According to West Virginia folklorist and food blogger Emily Hilliard, the first pepperoni roll was created in 1927 by Fairmont, W.Va., baker Giuseppe "Joseph" Argiro, who came from Calabria, Italy, and was a former miner. He had observed miners eating pepperoni with bread, and decided to combine the two, to make it more portable. The bakery he founded, Country Club Bakery, is still in operation today.
Homemade Pepperoni Rolls
Recipe by Emily Hilliard, adapted from Kendra Bailey Morris
Makes about 20 rolls, depending on size
For the rolls:
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1⁄2 cup warm water
1⁄2 cup plus 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar
1-2 white potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, very soft
1 teaspoon salt
7-8 cups all-purpose flour
1-1⁄2 (about 1 pound) pepperoni stick, cut into thin slices
For the glaze:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons sugar
1 large egg
In a small bowl, combine yeast, warm water, and 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar until yeast dissolves. Let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes until foamy.
Meanwhile, place potatoes in a pot with at least three cups of water (enough to make approximately 2 1⁄2 cups leftover potato water) and cook until tender.
Pulse cooked potatoes and 2 1⁄2 cups potato water in a blender. Add the 1⁄2 cup sugar, butter, and salt, blending well. Add the egg and blend 5 seconds more. Let mixture cool to lukewarm.
Once cool, pour potato mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitting with the paddle attachment, mixing in the yeast. Slowly add 4 cups of flour and beat until smooth. Add 3-4 more cups of flour and knead until the dough is fairly stiff but still a little sticky. Place dough in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight. (Note: the dough will keep in the fridge for 5 to 6 days. Be sure to push down the dough at least once per day.)
When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400°F. Turn dough onto a floured board and cut into quarters. Continue to cut into roughly 20 small pieces. Take a piece of the dough and push it flat into a rectangle. Place 2-3 slices of pepperoni in the middle (overlapping and not stacking) and roll, pinching the ends of the dough to hold the pepperoni inside. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat until you've used up all of your dough and pepperoni.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and sugar. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Add your egg and mix well. Brush tops of the rolls with this mixture, then bake them until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Enjoy!
Recipe by Emily Hilliard, adapted from Kendra Bailey Morris, as published in "The West Virginia Pepperoni Roll" by Candace Nelson (West Virginia University Press), in Trade Paperback format, available via Amazon.
- Emily Hilliard's blog, Nothing in the House
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