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This Weekend was the kick off of college football, and here in the south they take their college football. Growing up in West Virginia I became a WVU Mountaineers fan. Several years ago I lived in Knoxville TN, where my son was born, and I also grew to love the TN Volunteers. I don’t remember them playing each other in the past so I didn’t have to choose sides. All that changed this weekend as the two teams kicked off the season in Charolette and I had to choose sides.
If you have never been to WV, you may have never heard of the WV Pepperoni Roll. It is sometimes know as the unofficial state food. My first exposure to pepperoni rolls goes way back to when I was about 8 or 9. I got to go to my first West Virginia University football game in Morgantown with my neighbors. My friend’s Grandparents were second generation Italian immigrants. They attend the huge Italian festival in Clarksburg each year. On the way to the game we stopped at bakery in Fairmont and grabbed a big bag of them to take to the game. My love for these would never leave.
Now that I live in Georgia, I have yet to find anyone that sells these delicious treats from my childhood. This weekend I decided to make my own. I had tried a lot of the recipes that I have found online over the years, and was never satisfied with the results. I decided to go with a sweeter bread for this version. I also cut down on the Pepperoni a little, using slices rather than the more traditional sticks. The ratio of pepperoni to bread seemed to be well balanced. It allowed the bread to absorb the grease from the pepperoni and give a good meaty flavor to the sweeter bread.
I made the dough first thing in the morning so that it would have the proper time to rise. This allowed me to run all my morning errands and picked up the last minute items for the grill this weekend. I start off with the whisk attachment in my stand mixer. Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and 1/4 of an ounce of active dry yeast into the mixer bowl. I use an instant read thermometer to make sure the water is 110 degrees. Any hotter will kill the yeast. Start with the whisk attachment in a stand mixer. At low speed whisk together all the ingredients and let them rest, to allow the yeast to bloom, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Once the yeast has bloomed set the mixer to the lowest setting with the whisk attachment still on. Add the remaining ingredients, except the all purpose flour and mix until combined. At this point switch to the dough hook. A great time saver when cleaning up is to spray your dough hook all over with nonstick cooking spray. With the dough hook on and mixer at the lowest speed, add the all purpose flour. Then allow the mixer to do the work kneading the dough, this will take about 6 to 8 minutes. Once the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, place into a glass bowl with a few tablespoons of oil. Cover it with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Allow it to sit in a warm place and rise until doubled in size about 2 hours.
After the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough down and turn it out onto a well floured surface. Using a bench knife cut the dough in half. Take those two halves and cut in half again. Continue this process until you end up with 16 equal size pieces of dough.
With a rolling pin, roll each of the dough balls out into roughly an oblong shape. Place 3 slices of pepperoni into the center of each piece of dough. Roll them up pinching the ends closed and tucking them underneath. Place the rolls seam side down onto a parchment lined baking sheet about one inch apart. once they are all rolled they go into a 375 degree over to bake until golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes. They are best when they are warm and fresh from the oven.