My dad grew up in West Virginia and every so often, we'd go back to Clarksburg to visit family and friends. I was always the most excited about coming home with pepperoni rolls – these fluffy little rolls stuffed with two neat little sticks of pepperoni are just plain perfect. I prefer my pepperoni rolls without cheese and that's usually how you buy them in corner stores. However, most West Virginians will tell you to toast them with cheese and then top with a generous helping of Oliverio Peppers and Tomatoes.
Makes: Approximately 20 rolls
Skill Level: Easy
Time to Make: 11 hours 30 minutes (10 hours 10 minutes inactive)
4 cups hot water
2 packets of active dry yeast (not instant)
4 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 tablespoons salt
2 large sticks of good quality pepperoni
Egg Wash: 1 egg, beaten and mixed with 2 tablespoons of water
In the Morning: Add the hot water to a large bowl and sprinkle the two packets of yeast on top. Let it set for 10 minutes until bubbly. Add the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of flour and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place for 8 hours. Note: The yeast mixture can set for as little as 30 minutes up to 24 hours. I recommend starting the yeast in the morning and finishing the rolls in the evening.
Slice the pepperoni into 4 inch long sticks (This will dictate how long your pepperoni roll is, so don't cut them too long) and keep covered in the fridge until ready to use.
In the Evening: Begin adding flour to the yeast mixture, one cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon between additions. You will probably add around 6-8 cups of flour total. Continue adding flour until the mixture is very thick and becomes difficult to stir. Once you're able to handle the mixture with your hands, dump the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface. Knead for at least 10 minutes, adding sprinkles of flour as necessary to remove the any stickiness from the dough. (Do channel your inner pizza maker and slam the dough on the table as often as possible!)
Clean out the bowl you originally had the dough in and drizzle it with a bit of olive oil and use a paper towel to evenly coat the inside of the bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 1 hour. The dough should double in size.
After the dough has risen, punch down to remove any large pockets of air. (This is my favorite part.) Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425ºF and sprinkle two baking sheets with cornmeal.
Make the Pepperoni Rolls: Tear out a section of the dough, a little smaller than the size of a tennis ball. Flatten the dough ball between your palms into a slightly oblong shape. Add one stick of pepperoni on the right side of the dough and fold the dough over just the pepperoni. Add a piece of pepperoni on the left side and fold over the dough to cover it. Pinch the center of the dough to seal the roll, using a bit of water if necessary to seal it closed. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Continue making the rest of the pepperoni rolls.
Cover the baking sheet with wax pepper and allow the rolls to rest for 30 minutes. Prior to baking, brush the surface of the rolls with the egg wash.
Bake each sheet of rolls for 20 minutes. I bake the sheets individually, but you can do whatever works for you! The rolls should be a nice golden brown and feel hard on the top.
Serve with Oliverio peppers and cheese or eat them on their own! Enjoy!
Designer and photographer living in NYC. I work as a design manager in ed tech and I make tasty recipes in my spare time!