Seriously Delicious Pepperoni Rolls
February 1, 2014
These Pepperoni Rolls look & taste like you spent all day in the kitchen, but they're super easy to make. Takes about 30 minutes of active prep time, then you've got about an hour to enjoy a cup of coffee & check your email while the rolls rise in their little pans, then they spend about 15 minutes in the oven. Voila! Your friends will be impressed.
They're great fresh from the oven, cold from the fridge (think leftover cold pizza), or warmed up in the microwave. This recipe is quite versatile, and you can add whatever extras you'd like.
This makes about 48 mini-muffin sized rolls or 18-20 regular rolls.
Here's what you need:
Bread dough. I use the Beautiful Burger Bun recipe from King Arthur Flour (http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/beautiful-burger-buns-recipe), but you could buy frozen bread dough at the grocery store. Be sure to defrost it in the fridge so it's soft when you're ready to make the rolls. If you buy frozen dough, just defrost one loaf for this recipe.
Pepperoni. One package of pre-sliced pepperoni, any brand. I cut it up into small bits (smaller than 1/2") with a sharp knife so they can be scattered over the dough. This can be done a day or two ahead of time. You'll be tempted to skip this step and simply scatter the whole slices over the dough, but the whole slices make it nearly impossible to slice the soft dough into rolls before you bake them.
Sauce. Buy the good stuff. Putting tasteless sauce in pepperoni rolls is like putting cheap peanut butter into peanut butter cookies. Your end result will suffer. Quite often your favorite pizza shop will sell their sauce, and they will definitely be flattered if you ask! I don't use much sauce - probably about 1/2 cup. It looks like very watery finger paint on the dough. If you use too much, most of it will end up in the bottom of the pan.
Cheese. I like to use shredded mozzarella (about 1 cup) and Parmesan or Romano (about 2 tablespoons). You can use more or less, depending on how cheesy you want the rolls to be. Don't get too crazy with the cheese or the rolls will be greasy on the bottoms.
Extras. I'm a purist. I only want pepperoni & cheese in my pepperoni rolls. You could add cooked sausage, other kinds of shredded cheese, mushrooms or vegetables*, as long as they're cut into small pieces. You can leave out the meat & just go for veggies if you wish. You can add fresh or dried herbs, too. I'm just giving you the basics. It's up to you to make it your own.
*A word of warning about vegetables. Fresh mushrooms & veggies need to be cooked first to get some of the water out of them; otherwise - disaster! All of their water will release while they're baking, resulting in a mushy rolls. Microwave or sauté on the stove, allow to cool, then blot thoroughly with paper towels before adding veggies to the rolls.
What else? Flour (about 1/4 cup), a rolling pin, nonstick muffin (or mini muffin) pans (or rimmed cookie sheet & parchment paper for larger rolls), plastic wrap, oven.
What to do:
Sprinkle a tablespoon of flour over a 1' x 2' area of your counter. Flatten bread dough a bit so it's easier to roll out. Sprinkle additional flour on top. You just want enough so the dough doesn't stick to the counter or the rolling pin. Don't worry, if you use too much flour, simply brush it off before you add the sauce.
Put a bit of flour in the palm of your hand and rub it all over the rolling pin. This helps keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin. When you begin rolling the dough, it may resist your efforts. Don't worry, and don't keep fighting it. It's letting you know that it needs to relax. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap & let it rest for about 10 minutes. Try again, and it will be much easier to roll out.
Decide whether you want to make large pepperoni rolls or mini-muffin sized rolls. This will determine how you roll the dough. If you're making large rolls, your rectangle should be about twice as wide as it is deep (front to back). If you're making mini-muffin size rolls, the rectangle should be much wider than it is deep. The diameter of your finished pepperoni roll will be determined by how deep (front to back) your rectangle is rolled. The smaller the front-to-back measurement, the smaller the roll. For mini muffin size, don't make your rectangle any deeper than 9".
Carefully roll out the dough into a wide rectangle, making sure it is even-thickness throughout. The dough should be about 1/4"- 3/8" thick. When you're almost finished rolling the dough you can carefully lift and stretch the corners to make it more rectangle-shaped. Seems silly, but it's easier to roll later up later if it's a rectangle and not a big amoeba.
Spread sauce over the dough, keeping 1/2" bare across the top long edge of the dough. I find my hands work best for this step, and it's fun - like finger painting. Remember, you just want a thin layer of sauce.
Sprinkle cut-up pepperoni over dough, but continue to leave the top edge bare.
Sprinkle cheese over the dough, plus any additional ingredients. Use as much or as little as you like. Your dough will be rolled up & sliced, so make sure you don't have any large naked areas in the middle of the dough.
Carefully roll dough like a cinnamon roll, starting with the long edge nearest you and working toward the "clean" edge at the back. You may need help to do this step. Sometimes it tries to unroll when you first begin. Just keep trying, and it will eventually start cooperating. Once you get the first couple of inches turned under, it rolls fairly easily.
When your roll is almost to the top edge, flip the "clean" edge up onto the roll & pinch it to seal it onto the dough. Use your fingers to seal along the entire edge. It doesn't need to be pretty, just pinched together so it doesn't unroll again. Mine is usually fairly messy. If I poke a hole into the dough, I just use a piece of dough to patch it. Doesn't matter. This will not show in the finished product.
Use a very sharp knife to cut the roll into slices. Mini rolls should be about 1/2" thick. Larger rolls should be 1" or a bit thicker. Yes, some of the stuffing will fall out. Just put the bits on top of the rolls when you put them in their pan. The "rogue" pepperoni pieces will add lovely crispy bits on top.
I use non-stick mini muffin pans for my mini rolls. Place rolls cut-side-down into muffin cups. (For larger rolls, place cut side down onto parchment lined baking sheet, leaving at least 1" between the rolls. They will rise & expand, so this is an important step.) Yes, buy the parchment paper. You'll thank me later. Nothing sticks to it, not even sticky cheese or pizza sauce, so cleanup is a breeze. No matter which size rolls you're making, cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Set in a warm place to rise for about an hour, or until they feel puffy when you touch them with your finger. I call it the "Pillsbury Dough Boy test". Feel free to giggle while you poke the dough.
Preheat oven to 350° about 15 minutes before you plan to bake them.
Bake mini rolls for 12-15 minutes, larger rolls for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with extra pizza sauce for dipping.