Pepperoni Rolls

I could not think of a better way to get back into blogging and start the new year than with these amazing pepperoni rolls. These fabulous rolls are apparently the official food of West Virginia. They were first served at a bakery in 1927 as a lunch option for coal miners. The first time I ate these rolls was on the beach in Wilmington at my bff’s bachelorette party. Her mom is an expert pepperoni roll maker from WV. I was instantly addicted. They really are the perfect on the go food. So this story should kind of explain my absence from blogging… We took a lot of trips this year. WV, Mexico, Austin, Houston, Wilmington, Durham. We also built a house and made a human who will arrive sometime in March. Excuses,  excuses. But I have a number of amazing new cookbooks that I am beyond excited to dive into and share on the blog. Now that we are moved into our new home with our incredible kitchen I’ve made a long to-do list from Vivian Howard’s new book, the Poole’s diner cookbook, Dorie’s Cookies, ad hoc at home, just to name a few.

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There are some arguments about what makes the best pepperoni roll. Most west Virginians seem to prefer the chopped up stick pepperoni. But I kind of like layering the sliced pepperoni with shredded mozzarella cheese, as in the recipe below. You can obviously use whatever pepperoni and cheese you have on hand. Some people believe these should be made with Colby jack, and I’m sure you could substitute this or cheddar or whatever cheese you have in your fridge. There are also some recipes out there that use cubes cut from blocks of cheese. So, make this basic roll dough and stuff whatever delicious meats and cheeses you have in your fridge inside, and I think it will probably be good. Not to mention, you can throw them in a big ziplock and take them to the beach, the park, skiing, wine tasting, tailgating, float tripping. The possibilities are endless!

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I have tried some Italian bread recipes for these rolls and I just really prefer my basic soft dinner roll. This roll recipe is simple and nearly fool proof. Unless it’s Christmas, you’re hosting 14 people, and you forget to put the salt in your bread dough. Everyone still seemed to like the dinner rolls but for me they were a mega failure. You can use your stand mixer to knead the dough and save yourself frustration/time/mess. The dough will seem really sticky when you set it aside to rise, don’t worry. Do use plenty of flour when you go to form your rolls. This recipe should make 24 pepperoni rolls. So just divide your dough into 4 pieces, divide those in half, and divide the 8 pieces you have now into thirds. This video will give you some idea of how to form your rolls. I admit that this batch during the video really had a bit too much flour. The dough should really be stickier and you will be patting it out more than rolling it in your hands.

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As far as wine pairings go, there are a number of options here. If you are eating these in the winter or at a football tailgate, serve them with sangiovese or pinot noir. But if you are eating these on the beach or during a day out on a boat… three words: Rosé all day. You really cannot go wrong with most rosé wines if you spend about $12. Justin makes a fabulous blush wine for about $20 if you want to spend a little more. You can also impress your wine loving friends and go for a côtes du rhône rosé such as E. Guigal. I would hazard to say that any rosé sparkling wine will pair excellently with these pepperoni rolls on a hot day.

Pepperoni rolls:

1 1/2 cups milk (can sub 1/2 cup cream and 1 cup water)
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup (100 grams) white granulated sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 cups ( 820 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for forming the rolls
Olive oil for the bowl and brushing
6 oz package sliced pepperoni
8 oz shredded mozzarella
Italian seasoning and Kraft grated Parmesan cheese for the tops (optional)

Make the bread dough:

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, bring milk to a simmer. Remove from heat and mix in the butter salt, and sugar. Allow this to cool for 10 min while you measure the rest of your ingredients. Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water, making sure it foams up.

Fit your stand mixer with a dough hook and pour the milk/butter/sugar/salt into the bowl of the mixer. Pour in the 3 eggs, yeast dissolved in water, and about half the flour. Beat on low speed until this is all incorporated.

Add in the rest of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of bowl. Knead with the dough hook, on low to medium speed, for 5 minutes.

Oil a large bowl with olive oil and dump the dough from the mixer into this, turning to coat the dough. Lightly cover with a towel or Saran Wrap. Allow the dough to sit in a warm place for at least 90 minutes, or until it doubles in size.

Make the pepperoni rolls:

Line a 9 x 13 inch metal pan with parchment (or foil/release paper) or butter/flour the pan.

On a well floured surface, dump the dough out of the bowl. Divide the dough into fourths. Divide these pieces in half. Divide each of these pieces into three. You should get 24 pepperoni rolls.

Flatten each piece of dough with your hands and press 4-5 pepperoni slices and pinch of mozzarella cheese into the dough. (I try to jam in as much pepperonis and cheese as I can.) See the above picture for reference. Pull the bottom dough around the pepperonis and cheese, pinching together. Flip it over and mold into a ball as best you can. Place into the pan with the pinched side down.

Allow the rolls to rise for 30-40 minutes until they are poofed up. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and adjust a rack so it is in the center of the oven.  Sprinkle with shredded parmesan and Italian seasoning if you desire. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through, until they are golden brown.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

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