Pepperoni Rolls, Simple and Delicious

pepperoni rolls
   

Pepperoni rolls, the simple yet impressive combination of bread and pepperoni (and sometimes cheese).  This uniquely West Virginian recipe was originally created by miners’ wives as a filling lunch that could be eaten in the coal mines. Pepperoni rolls were first commercially produced in 1927 in a Fairmont, WV bakery owned by Italian immigrant Guiseppe Argiro. 

While you can find some variation of this Mountain State treat in other parts of the country now, we thought it was time to produce some in Kentucky in our CVap® ovens.

pepperoni rolls

Ingredients

  • 2 bags of frozen rolls (approximately 73 in a bag)
  • 40-50oz of sliced pepperoni
  • 6lbs shredded colby jack cheese
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • All-purpose flour
  • Melted butter
This party size recipe makes approximately 140 rolls. 

Preparing

Start with frozen bread rolls. Unless you have time to make fresh dough, this is the easiest way to get started. Plus the rolls are already perfectly portioned for individual rolls. Place the frozen rolls into a large hotel pan and cover rolls with non-stick cooking spray. This will ensure that they do not stick together while thawing. Place the pan in CVap Holding Cabinet at 100F Vapor/103F Air for about 30 minutes. Once the rolls are soft to touch, it is time to roll and fill them with pepperoni and cheese.

With a healthy amount of flour at your side for the purpose of rolling the dough, use a rolling pin to flatten the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and about 5 inches in diameter. Place a large pinch of cheese in the center of the dough. Add about five slices of pepperoni over the cheese. Fold in the sides and roll until the dough is like a burrito. Trap the filling in on all sides to prevent leaks.

pepperoni rolls
pepperoni rolls
folding
pepperoni rolls

Baking Pepperoni Rolls

Spray a large hotel pan with non-stick cooking spray and place the rolled dough into the pan. There should be about an inch of space between each roll for expanding purposes. Brush each roll with melted butter to prevent sticking to each other and to add a nice golden crust.

Once the pan is full, place it back into the CVap Holding Cabinet at 100F Vapor/103F Air for about 30 minutes to finish proofing or until the dough has expanded about 1/4 inch all around. The rolls may be touching slightly. In the meantime, preheat a CVap Retherm oven or a CVap Cook and Hold oven to Zero Vapor/350F Air. When the proofing process is complete transfer the pans to the CVap oven. Bake them for about 20 minutes or until they have reached a golden brown on top.

pepperoni rolls

Pair them with some marinara or create the OG West Virginia school lunch with baked beans, chilled peaches, and chocolate milk. Do you have a CVap recipe that you want to share? Post your recipes and pictures on the CVap Operators group!

Baking Bagels in a CVap Oven

Reading a post on social media about New York-style bagels got me thinking…can I do that in CVap oven? We were already proofing in our CVaps, but I wanted to know if I could mimic the step where the bagels are boiled.

I found a generic recipe on King Arthur Flour’s website. This was an easy, straightforward recipe. As usual, there’s a point in the recipe that calls for the bagels to be boiled. As a test, I chose to go with tradition and boil some, and prepare the others in a CVap oven. I also prepared the water with honey instead of lye, baking soda, malt powder, or other ingredients that people often use, simply because I was aiming for a sweeter bagel.

Next, I prepared my bagels, let the dough proof, shape, and rise again. The next step was to boil.

I brushed the proofed bagels with the honey water, and placed them in the CVap Cook & Hold. The unit was set at 200 Doneness and 1 Browning, Constant Cook ON. I elevated the bagels on a baking rack to ensure that the vapor would reach all sides of the bagel for five minutes.

Surprise, Baking Bagels Works!

The CVap results were better than expected. The bagels were very similar to the ones that I boiled, but they didn’t rise as much as the boiled bagels.

The next step involved baking. I reserved a few bagels to bake in a conventional oven, and baked the rest in the CVap (90 Doneness, 10 Browning, Constant Cook ON). The recipe recommends baking the bagels, then removing them from the oven to add toppings. This was a bit difficult – the bagels were hot and had to be sprayed with water to make the topping stick. I chose to make a variety of flavors; everything bagel, asiago bagel, asiago jalapeno bagel, and a few plain bagels. The bagels destined for the CVap were much easier, as I was able to top the bagels right after boiling them.

Not only were the CVap bagels easier to prepare, they also browned more evenly.

The Bagels are Delicious.

When they had cooled just enough to not burn my mouth, I dug in. The boiled/oven-baked bagels were much chewier on the exterior, and the toppings fell off. The CVap bagels were a little denser and crisper on the exterior. Both were delicious! A bit more tweaking of recipe and technique would probably result in a seamless process in the CVap. No boiling, no adding toppings mid-bake – painless and delicious!

It’s All in the Proof! CVap Focaccia

proofing focaccia

Focaccia bread (Italian pronunciation: [foˈkattʃa]) is one of the most versatile breads. The bread can be baked thick or thin, and the endless array of topping choices compounds flavors in complex ways. Focaccia can be used in many ways, including as a pizza base, sandwich bread, or even as a cake.

Some folks are unaware that CVap® Cook and Hold Ovens and CVap Retherm Ovens are ideal for baking bread. In short, you can customize the oven’s environment to create the ideal proofing conditions.

Recipe:

  • Bread Flour – 1.82 Kilograms
  • Water – 845 Grams
  • Fresh Yeast – 60 Grams
  • Olive Oil – 140 Grams
  • Salt – 60 Grams
  • Sugar – 58 Grams
proofing dough punch and dock

Method of Prep:

  1. First, preheat Cook and Hold Oven to Vapor 90°F/Air 95°F.
  2. Next, mix the water and flour. Autolyse for 20 minutes. Autolyse is a fancy word for mixing flour and water and allowing the mixture to rest for a few minutes.
  3. Add sugar, olive oil, and yeast, and mix for five minutes.
  4. Add salt and mix for two minutes.
  5. Transfer the dough to a half-sheet pan greased with olive oil.
  6. Place dough in the center of the pan. Stretch the dough into a flat oval. Be sure both sides are coated with olive oil.
  7. Finally, place the dough in Cook and Hold Oven to proof for an hour and 15 minutes.
  8. When the timer goes off, pull the dough from the oven.
  9. Punch and stretch the dough to the shape of the pan. Make indentations in the dough with your fingertips.
  10. Place the dough back in the oven and set a timer for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove the dough from the Cook and Hold oven and preheat to Vapor 200°F/Air 350°F.
  12. Top the dough with desired toppings and place back into the Cook and Hold Oven. Bake for 45 minutes.

One of our focaccia loaves was topped with charred ramps, roasted garlic, and rosemary. The other was topped with dried figs and fennel seeds. Both were seasoned with Maldon sea salt.

Consistent, efficient proofing is crucial when preparing leavened bread. CVap ovens create a consistent proofing environment. Their ability to maintain a stable, moist environment at a relatively low temperature makes them perfect proofers. Consequently, this generates the fermented smell and flavors of great bread. CVap ovens can adjust the cabinet environment to tailor the proof. As a result, you can create compound flavors while the bread is fermenting (or proofing).

focaccia dough - 2nd proof
focaccia dough - 2nd proof topped

The Results

The crumb on the finished product was excellent. It created a light, soft finished product, without making the exterior of the bread too hard.

You might notice in the pictures that one of the pans of focaccia was too close to the top elements. This was due to my portioning of the dough between the two pans. My bad.

focaccia bread
focaccia bread

Focaccia Fundamentals

Focaccia has a rich history. As you probably know, it’s Italian. Or to be more specific, it’s Roman. In ancient Rome, panis focacius was a flat bread baked on the hearth. The name is derived from Latin panem (bread) and focus (hearth, place for baking). The basic recipe is widely associated with Ligurian cuisine. The name focaccia first appeared in 1300C.E. But to be honest, breads have been baked on hearths for millennia. There are similar historical recipes throughout Turkey, Greece, France, Spain, and throughout the Middle East.

The popularity of focaccia spread with the Roman Empire. It was probably considered a poor man’s meal, baked to feed peasants and slaves. Today, savory, and sweet variations of focaccia can be found throughout Europe and the Americas.

It Ain’t Pizza

Because it’s a classic flat bread, focaccia is sometimes considered to be a kind of pizza. The key difference is that focaccia is left to rise after being flattened, whereas pizza dough is baked immediately. It’s worth noting that the flat bread of ancient Sicily was called pitu, a variant of the Greek pita. There’s a good chance pitu etymologically evolved into pizza. But as The New York Times’ Eileen Weinberg described it, “focaccia connotes bread with a little topping and pizza connotes topping with a little bread.”

Focaccia

Variations of Focaccia

Because it’s so versatile, there are many variations of focaccia. Here are just a few.

Fugassa

The OG focaccia, this Ligurian staple is seasoned with olive oil, rock salt, and herbs.

Recco Focaccia

From the Recco region, this version is made from unleavened dough. It’s worked thin, filled with fresh cheese (usually crescenza) and closed again, then fired.

Focaccia Barese

From the southern Italy town of Bari comes this version, made with durum wheat flour, and topped with rosemary, tomatoes, olives, and salt.

A Fugassa cö Formaggio

(focaccia with cheese) – Traditionally a specialty reserved for All Saints Day celebrations. It’s a layer of melted soft cheese sandwiched between two paper-thin layers of dough. It’s so revered in Italy that it was granted IGP (protected geographical indication) status by the European Union in 2012.

Schiacciata

Originating in the Tuscan region, this bread is usually thinner than the Genoa-style focaccia and is often topped with rosemary. It ends to have a soft interior yet be crispy on the outside. During the harvest months it’s common to make schiacciata all’ve where the bread is sweetened and stuffed with wine grapes.