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I'm Kristin and I'm a chef, freelance writer, recipe developer, and cookbook devourer based in southern California. I hope you enjoy reading the site. Please grab a snack and stay awhile.  Questions or inquiries? Reach out at kfrieder@gmail.com.  

Recipe: Deluxe Brioche West Virginia style Pepperoni Rolls

Recipe: Deluxe Brioche West Virginia style Pepperoni Rolls

America is full of regionally specific baked goods, hidden gems based on local history, cultural traditions, and family recipes. Before the internet, you may have only discovered these treasures if you were a traveler passing through on a layover or a road trip. Or, if you were really lucky, you may have had a relative living in another state who was generous enough to ship you some of their homemade versions of the treat.

Fast forward to the time of Instagram and online recipes and now we can find a way to create our version of almost anything without tasting the original. While nothing can really replace the time-honored mom or grandma or grandpa version of a recipe, we have almost all the resources one could hope for at our fingertips if we want to try. I would never diminish the special nature of a local family recipe, but as someone fascinated by recipe research I do appreciate that so much information sharing is possible

Many years ago, I crossed paths with a few coworkers from West Virginia and discovered the pepperoni roll, a traditional coal miner’s lunch originating in that state. The rolls consist of a simple white bread roll stuffed with pepperoni— designed to provide 1920’s workers with a quick and hearty lunch to get them through their days. A few dozen were shipped as a care package to our office, hand-packed by someone’s mom sending them a taste of home. I liked the pepperoni roll immediately but I never got my hands on the original recipe. Fast forward to today and I’ve adapted to my favorite version of the humble pepperoni roll. This recipe version uses buttery brioche dough as its base, a deluxe modern version in direct contrast to the original miner’s lunch. Chef’s Note: If you’re feeling experimental, chorizo would probably be an excellent filling substitute. If you’re on a schedule, you can break this recipe up into two days by allowing the bread to rise overnight in the fridge.

Recipe: Deluxe Brioche West Virginia style Pepperoni Rolls

Yield: about 14 two-ounce rolls

Ingredients:

  • All purpose flour, 2 3/4 cup

  • nonfat dry milk, 1/4 cup

  • sugar, granulated, 2 Tbsp

  • kosher salt, 1 1/4 tsp

  • instant yeast, 1 Tbsp

  • large eggs, 3 each

  • warm water, 1/4 cup

  • butter, unsalted, room temperature, 10 tbsp

  • pepperoni slices, approximately 60 pieces

  • optional: dusting flour for shaping dough, if needed

  • optional: one egg for egg wash

Method: Combine yeast and warm water in a small bowl. Using a standing mixer with a dough hook attachment, mix all ingredients (including yeast mixture) together on low speed for 15-20 minutes. Prepare a greased bowl and store the dough ball covered. Allow to rise in a warm place for one hour, or let rise in the refrigerator overnight.

Prepare two cupcake pans with pan spray. Using a bench scraper and a digital kitchen scale, divide your dough into 2 ounce pieces, resulting in about 14 rolls. Flatten rolls and insert about 4 slices of pepperoni in the center of each, then wrap the dough around the pepperoni so its hidden in the center of the roll. Shape each piece of dough into a smooth ball (using dusting flour if necessary to prevent sticking), then place in the pan. Cover the buns with a dish towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for about one hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 F (350 if using a convection oven.) Brush with egg wash and bake for 14-18 minutes (approximately 8 minutes in a convection oven using a high fan setting). Bake until golden brown and an instant read thermometer inserted into the bread registers at least 190 F.

If you’re intimidated by making bread, brioche is a good beginner’s variety to start with. It’s fairly easy to make and the results are crowd-pleasing. What version of pepperoni rolls is in your recipe book? Please holler at me with any suggestions, interesting modifications, or controversial opinions.

Cookbook Spotlight: The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves by Linda Ziedrich (+a rhubarb orange jam recipe)

Cookbook Spotlight: The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves by Linda Ziedrich (+a rhubarb orange jam recipe)