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Toasted Pepperoni Rolls

    Toasted Pepperoni Rolls

    Buttery soft pepperoni rolls loaded with loads of pepperoni are delicious at parties and potlucks, and they originated in West Virginia and are popular all along the Ohio River Valley. Whether you’re looking for a quick and simple snack or a filling lunch, this pepperoni roll recipe from scratch will not disappoint.

    One of the greatest fortunes of my life was being able to snack on pepperoni rolls as a kid. While a latchkey child, I remember my mother periodically picking these up from Brownie Bakery, and I’d enjoy munching on one as I watched old episodes of The Flintstones. In order to get the most out of the pepperoni, I took it off the pizza on purpose. A ring of oil from the pepperoni rendered into the roll, painting the center a vibrant scarlet orange, and I’d carefully chew at the delicate white dough that had encircled it. I can’t think of a better way to spoil a meal.

    Moving two hours north of the Ohio River Valley, I was surprised to find out that pepperoni rolls are not a staple food in every region. They have an interesting and unique history since they are so regionally specific. Pepperoni rolls are a regional specialty of northeastern Appalachia, so if you’re familiar with them, I’m guessing you’re from there. Pepperoni rolls are your due no matter where you call home. Think of this as a crash course.

    image: Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

    Can you explain pepperoni rolls to me?

    Pepperoni rolls are white dinner rolls with pepperoni baked right into the soft dough. In a pinch, a single pepperoni roll can do, but if you’re looking for a hearty meal, two will do the trick.

    Yet pepperoni rolls are so much more than that. They are integral to one’s sense of self. In the early 20th century, Italian American immigrants were among the various groups that migrated to West Virginia to work in the coal mines, and it was during this time that pepperoni rolls were first created. Former coal miner Giuseppe “Joseph” Argiro is widely recognized as the man who invented the commercial pepperoni roll in 1920 in his Fairmont, West Virginia bakery. However, it is conceivable that Argiro did not come up with the concept on his own. “It is probable the initial makers of the pepperoni roll were home cooks—wives, in particular, of coal miners wanting to fill coal miner’s tummies,” Candace Nelson writes in The West Virginia Pepperoni Roll, a must-read for any serious pepperoni roll aficionado.

    Can you see yourself working in a grim, hazardous, and unclean environment? You put in long hours in a confined space. Consider how much more exciting it would be if you were anticipating a fatty, salty, puffy carbohydrate bundle. It’s nourishment designed to provide simple joy even in the worst of circumstances.

    This is why residents of the Ohio River Valley have a deep, abiding love for pepperoni rolls. The legislature of West Virginia recognized the widespread popularity of pepperoni rolls and designated them as the official state snack. I’m armed with a roll pin specifically designed for rolling out pepperoni. Goldbelly offers authentic West Virginia pepperoni rolls for homesick Mountain State natives living abroad.

    Pepperoni Rolls Are Appropriate Anytime

    What time of day is ideal for a pepperoni roll? At any moment that suits you! They’re a regular part of life around here, but you should treat each one as if it were the first.

    Pepperoni rolls may be purchased at corner shops, supermarkets, and even corner bakeries. Pepperoni buns cooked at home are another common dish brought to gatherings. Sourdough pepperoni rolls were presented at my friends’ wedding. As a means of raising funds, several schools offer them for sale. Pepperoni buns baked with care can elevate any ordinary day into a celebration, and now you can learn how to make them.

    Image: Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

    For those new to baking, this yeast dough is ideal.

    It would be hard to find a yeasted dough that is more forgiving than this one. With so much yeast, it’s certain to rise as long as you use active dry yeast. It is so soft and silky that you may knead it by hand without getting your muscles tired. Rather of using a stand mixer, I find that hand kneading yields better results. In case you’re using a unique mixer, give it 5 minutes on low speed and then finish by hand.

    Pepperoni rolls are a favorite among children to make. Older youngsters who are competent cooks may make this dish with little adult supervision. Younger children may assist with the kneading and shaping, which they will enjoy doing.

    The Finest Pepperoni for Pizza Subs

    Pepperoni rolls are the epitome of mass-appeal cuisine. Craft charcuterie should not be shown there. Pepperoni, whether it be basic or fancy, has the same effect of oozing its essential orange grease into the roll as it bakes, giving it a richness on par with top-tier brioche.

    Rolling up pepperoni is a breeze.

    Don’t stress over about making perfectly round buns. That is because there is no one correct approach. I’ve had several handmade pepperoni rolls in my life, and almost all of them were lumpy globs of salty, bready delight. If you want soft, tender rolls, don’t overwork the dough; instead, let it move in whichever direction it wants to.

    When making pepperoni pizza, some people like to completely encapsulate the pepperoni in their dough, but I like to leave a bit at the edges to serve as a visual lure and let people know they’re in for a treat.

    Image: Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

    Different Types of Pepperoni Rolls

    West Virginians and those in the eastern Ohio River Valley have their own preferred take on pepperoni rolls, beyond the classic version (lots of pepperoni cooked on a single-serving fluffy bun). Appalachians are known for their generosity and politeness, especially when it comes to food; even arguments over the best method to make a pepperoni roll are handled with respect.

    • Pepperoni: Slices are the norm, however thin sticks, cut in half lengthwise, are occasionally seen wrapped in dough with two pieces per roll. The pulverized pepperoni sticks have even been placed into rolls.
    • Cheese: You may add whatever sort of cheese you choose on top of or inside a pepperoni bun before baking it. No one will take offense at your unique cheese riff. When it comes to food, I am a purist who would rather not eat cheese.
    • During the springtime ramp season, a Buckhannon bakery stuffs pepperoni rolls with wilted ramps. A good buddy of mine from Randolph County elementary school days says they used to offer heated pepperoni bread with spaghetti sauce on the side.

    Rhodes Roll Dough Pepperoni Rolls

    It’s perfectly okay to use Rhodes frozen dinner roll dough to create pepperoni rolls in and around West Virginia. Most pepperoni roll recipes online call for stuffing frozen balls of Rhodes dough with pepperoni. Here are some suggestions for modifying the recipe for use with frozen roll dough:

    • Allow the dough balls to defrost in the fridge overnight, covered; then let rise for 1 to 2 hours on the counter, or until they have doubled in size.
    • Crush two of the dough balls for each pepperoni roll. To make 18 pepperoni rolls, you’ll need a 48-ounce bag containing 36 dough balls.
    • Roll dough out and let it rise as directed in the instructions. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees (the Rhodes dough bakes faster than the homemade dough). It’s possible that you’ll need a little more pepperoni for 18 rolls; just eyeball it.
    • Brush the rolls with melted butter before and after baking for an additional special touch.
    Image: Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm


    • Toasted bread and a quarter cup of hot water
    • 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast (1 ounce)
    • Total: 3.5 cups (451 g) all-purpose flour, divided; additional may be added if necessary
    • a single teaspoon of salt
    • 8 tbsp. of unsalted butter (113 g), split
    • Approximately 2 teaspoons of honey
    • Buttermilk, Three-Quart
    • Size: 1 extra-large egg
    • 8 to 9 ounces of pepperoni, cut thinly (approximately 144 pieces)


    1. In order to proof the yeast and weigh the flour:

    Sprinkle the yeast over the 1/4 cup of warm water in a small basin. Wait approximately 5 minutes, or until it is dissolved and creamy.

    Meanwhile, whisk together 3 cups (387g) of flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing basin.

    2. Butter melts, then milk, honey, and egg are added.

    Butter, about 4 tablespoons’ worth, should be melted over low heat in a small pot. In a small saucepan, heat the honey and buttermilk while whisking until heated (do not boil). Put the pan on the stove’s cool side and add the egg while whisking.

    3. Preparing the dough

    Add the yeast water mixture and the buttermilk mixture to the flour and stir to combine. With a wooden spoon, stir until the dough almost comes together. It will be rather sticky at first. Gradually add the remaining half cup (64g) of flour if necessary. Avoid the urge to add too much flour; a kneadable dough should be on the soft side.

    Place on a clean surface and knead gently for 5 minutes, or until smooth and pliable. It is unnecessary for me to flour the counter since more flour will be required if the dough adheres to the surface. Cover the dough and let it rest in a warm, draft-free place for 1 to 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

    4. Turn on the oven to 350°F.

    Bake on two parchment-lined baking sheets with racks in the top and lower thirds of the oven.
    To prepare for baking, divide the dough into equal halves.

    5. Cut the dough into 12 pieces

    Then let it rest for 10 minutes on a floured board

    Put the remaining butter in the microwave to melt. Make 12 nearly equal stacks of pepperoni.

    6. Make the dough into rolls, and then let it rise:

    Pat out a square of dough that’s about 4 or 5 inches on a side. Here, flaws are not just tolerated but encouraged. Leave a 1/4-inch border around the dough and shingle the pepperoni slices over the top. Roll the dough into a log, and then pinch the seam at the bottom to seal it. Arrange it on the baking pan with the seam side down. Put the leftover dough through the process again. There will be six rolls to a sheet in the end.

    Spread half of the melted butter on the buns. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes with a clean dish towel covering each baking sheet. They won’t become noticeably bigger, either.

    7. Put the buns in the oven, and then serve:

    Put the sheets in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, flipping them halfway through, until they are gently browned. Brush with the remaining butter as soon as you take it out of the oven; you may need to rewarm it somewhat.

    It’s OK to serve either hot or cold. The cooled rolls may be stored for up to three days in a plastic bag or covered in plastic wrap at room temperature.

    Once the rolls have cooled fully, they may be frozen. Store the rolls in a sealed plastic bag, then wrap each roll in foil. Keep frozen for a maximum of one month. Defrost on the counter, and then reheat in the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds for optimal eating pleasure.

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