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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pepperoni Rolls - For beginners

I have found the PERFECT, NO-FAIL recipe for pepperoni rolls and want to share it with all of you.

Pepperoni Rolls are typically found in West Virginia and surrounding states at gas stations and local bakeries.    They are a soft bread dough with a pepperoni (and/or cheese) filling.  The bread surrounds the pepperoni, keeping it safe at room temperature, making it an easy grab-and-go snack.  It's especially popular with coal miners, and construction workers that don't have access to microwaves and refrigerators.

There are many recipes online for pepperoni rolls, but the dough is made up more of a pizza dough.  Pizza dough is more chewy and crusty, and does NOT resemble the super soft bread-like dough that is typical of a West Virginia pepperoni roll.    I've been using THIS recipe for awhile to make homemade dinner rolls, and it never fails me.   Low and behold it is the perfect dough for pepperoni rolls also!  So, before I continue on with the recipe, I want to give credit where credit is do.   Go here to check out the original "our best bites" DINNER ROLL RECIPE.  

Here's what you will need:

  • 2 cups Vitamin D milk ( do not use skim!)
  • 1/2 cup + 1T sugar (divided)
  • 3T butter or margarine
  • 3T vegetable oil 
  • 2t salt 
  • 2 pkgs or 4.5 tsp active dry yeast 
  • 2/3 cup warm water 
  • 8- 9 cups all-purpose or bread flour (I recommend King Arthur's unbleached bread flour)
  • 3 beaten eggs 
  • 12 ounces sliced pepperoni 
  • Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil spray 


  • mozzarella Cheese
  • garlic powder 
  • sesame seeds
  • dried oregano flakes 

In a saucepan, mix together your Milk, Butter, Oil, Sugar, and Salt, and heat, stirring constantly.  Do NOT bring to boil.  

Set your milk mixture aside to cool.  Meanwhile, put your yeast and 1T sugar in a cup and give it a little stir.  Add 2/3 cup warm water.  (The water should feel warm to the touch, but not hot)   Pour the warm water in over the yeast and sugar.  Do not stir.  Let this mixture sit for about 15 minutes .  If it doesn't get frothy and bubbly, you'll need to start again with new/different yeast.  
In a large bowl, carefully measure out 3 cups of flour.  This is how you measure flour:  With a spoon, fluff up the four in the bag until it's light and air-y.  Sprinkle your flour into your measuring cup until it's piled high.  Then, with the flat edge of a butter knife, scrape off the excess until it's even.  Scrape the excess back into the bag of flour.   Each time you measure, you need to do all these steps.   Fluff flour in bag, sprinkle into measuring cup, and then scrape with knife ;c) 

By this point, your milk mixture should be warm, not hot.  Don't pour your milk mixture in if it is still hot, because it will kill the yeast.   Pour in your milk mixture, and blend together with an electric mixer.  

Add in your yeast mixture.  Use a spatula to get all the yeast out of the cup and into your bowl.   Mix on medium speed for a minute or two.    Beat eggs with mixer first, and then add to flour mixture.  Use a spatula to scrape the sides of bowl to mix well.

Add in an additional 5 cups of four, being careful to accurately measure.  

Stir with a knife, or large spoon.  You want to start blending the ingredients, and activating the yeast slowly. 

If your dough is still sticking to the sides, and looks wet, you need to add more flour.   Starting with 1/4 cup of flour at a time, continue adding flour until your dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.   Typically it takes me about 5.5 additional cups (or 8.5 cups total) flour.   But depending on your humidity level, it will vary from kitchen to kitchen.  

Pour out some flour on a clean, flat surface.   Push the majority of the flour to the side, and leave just a sprinkle of flour in which to knead your dough.   Pour out your dough on your lightly floured surface.  You don't want a very dense dough, it will still be kinda sticky, but if you use too much flour, your rolls will be dense.  So don't add TOO much flour.  The dough will be easier to work with after it has risen.  

Knead your dough until it is smooth.  Flour your hands, and knead until it is no longer sticking to your surface and hands.   If you have never kneaded bread dough before - check out this tutorial from King Arthur Flour

Spray your bowl with cooking spray.   Put your dough in the bowl, and coat dough with more cooking spray.   Cover with plastic wrap that is also coated with cooking spray.  

After about an hour, your dough should have doubled in size.  

Pour out your dough on to your lightly floured surface.  Knead out all the air bubbles.  

With a sharp knife, divide your dough in half, and then in half again, and then again.  Keep dividing until your dough is about golfball sized.  Work with about 8-16 pieces at a time.  Put the rest of the dough back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap so it won't dry out.   

Flatten out one of the dough balls with your fingers (you can use a rolling pin, but be careful not to add too much additional flour at this point, because you want the dough to be sticky so the rolls won't bust open in the cooking process)  

Add 2-4 pieces of pepperoni, covering the surface of the flattened dough.  Starting with one end, roll the dough over the pepperoni.  

Keep rolling.  

...Keep rolling.  

Starting with the outside edges, tightly pinch off the openings closed.   Pinch all around the folded edge of the dough, to ensure that the rolls will not bust open during baking.  

With the bottom of your palm, and with very little pressure, smooth out your rolls by rolling them with your palm.  You only need to do this a couple times. 

To add cheese to your pepperoni rolls, sprinkle  the cheese over the pepperoni ( a little goes a long way here)  I like to start with the edges first, and wrap the filling up like a blanket.   

Then roll and pinch off the ends.  The cheese will make these rolls slightly larger, but the baking time will be the same.  

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  
Lay out your rolls so that they're at least an inch apart on your baking sheet.  (I'm using my electric toaster oven so my baking sheet is smaller in this photo)   You can set them farther apart if you don't want them to bake together on the edges, but I kind of like that extra bit of softness on the sides.   
Spray your rolls with cooking spray, and sprinkle on top garlic powder, oregano, sesame seeds, and/or cheese.   The sesame seeds and cheese need to be pressed into the dough a little bit to ensure they stay put during rising and baking.    
Cover your rolls with a soft towel or loose piece of pastic wrap for about 20-30 minutes to let your dough rise.   Preheat your oven to 375.   

Cook your rolls at 375 for 15-20 minutes (until golden brown.)  Remove, let cool for 10 minutes and enjoy! Serve with marinara, pizza sauce, or garlic butter sauce.  
This recipe can also be cut in half.   If you want to do a half recipe use 3 Tablespoons of fat (oil or butter) and 1 large egg.  Start with 1.5 cups of flour, and then add an additional 2.5 to 3 cups flour.
Let me know if you have any questions.

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