Pepperoni Rolls are ever so popular in Western Pennsylvania where I grew up, being a staple at high school football and basketball concession stands or local delis. And, for good reason. These soft-baked subtly sweet and buttery rolls wrapped around two slices of salty, spicy cured meat are nothing short of delicious – and quite addicting. The few bite snack triggers that warm, cozy feeling when eaten, or for me, fond memories of my carefree adolescent autumn days.
When I thought to make a savory treat for a friend’s annual Birthday Skate at the Bryant Park Pond, Pepperoni Rolls seemed like a fun recipe to resurrect. It was the perfect choice! As a pre-dinner nibble and a contrast to the sugary Magnolia Bakery birthday cupcakes, they were received with great enthusiasm. Having arrived with nearly 50 warm rolls for a handful of folks, every last one was enjoyed. A few butter-stained spots on the empty brown paper bag remained as the only sign that they had ever existed.
You could take a shortcut and use refrigerated crescent roll dough, but I wanted to do everything from scratch since attempting this recipe for the first time. There is a deep satisfaction in successfully homemaking dough instead of store-buying. And, by doing so, you’ll find a new appreciation for the art of kneading and the women who perfected the craft long before effort-saving kitchen gadgets took precedence.
I ran into only one glitch when initially making the dough as it simply didn’t rise. This may be attributed to the extra large metal bowl where I first rested the dough. The interior temperature of the bowl may not have been warm enough for the yeast to properly activate because of the excess space and conduction of the outside cold temperature. After a nonresponsive first hour, I transferred the dough to a smaller plastic bowl and re-covered with a light towel. Problem averted as it seemed to do the trick.
Pepperoni is the traditional standalone filling, but I added hard salami for a complimentary flavor. Think of the roll as a calzone. Any combination of ingredients can be added – meats, cheeses and vegetables – and it should turn out well. I’m eager to experiment with a sausage and sauerkraut filling that closely follows a few Eastern European recipes I’ve found. With positive results, you will hear about that, too.
Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.com
1 cup warm water (about 100 degrees F)
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
50 slices sandwich style pepperoni
50 slices sandwich style hard salami
1. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon sugar in 1 cup of warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over the water and let stand for 5 minutes.
2. Mix flours, 3/4 cup sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the yeast mixture, beaten eggs, and melted butter. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
3. Lightly oil a large bowl, then place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a light cloth and let rise in a warm place (80 to 95 degrees F) until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.
4. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet.
5. Punch down the dough, and divide it into 40 equal pieces about half the size of a golf ball. Flatten each ball of dough into a disc shape using your hands. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 4-6 inch square. Place 1 slice of pepperoni and 1 slice salami at the center of the dough square.
6. Roll the dough around the pepperoni and salami slices, so it is in the shape of a log. Pinch the edges closed. Tuck one end in and roll into the shape of a bun. Place the roll on the prepared cookie sheet.
7. Bake the rolls in the preheated oven for 14 to 16 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned and the tops are barely golden.