I got this particular recipe from a little cookbook complied by my mom and some of the other teachers and parents from Lincoln Elementary in Erie, PA. Every time I make this, I think about where I grew up in Wesleyville, and getting Pepperoni Balls from Arnone’s.
When my girlfriend came to my hometown for the first time, she discovered pepperoni balls and now has to have them whenever my parents make the trip to Florida.
For the dough, you can either use fresh dough from your local bakery or you can use the pizza dough recipe I will describe a little later. It just depends on how much time you have.
I like to serve the Pepperoni Bread with some marinara sauce for dipping and a small side salad.
- 1 ball pizza dough
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon parsley
- 1/2 pound pepperoni, (or, you know, more if you like)
- 2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Roll out pizza dough into a rectangle
- Make an egg wash by combining egg, oregano, and parsley. Brush dough with egg wash.
- Layer pepperoni on top of dough. Layer the cheese on top of pepperoni.
- Fold one side over 2/3 of the way, then fold the other side to the middle. Pinch the middle and end seams.
- Flip over and place on cookie sheet. Brush top with egg wash.
- Bake seam side down for 25 minutes.
- After removing from oven, let sit for 5 minutes to cool and set. Slice and enjoy with marinara dipping sauce.
A little bit of history
After doing a little research I discovered that this is also known as the pepperoni roll in areas of West Virginia and the Appalachian regions of Pennsylvania and Ohio. The concept is exactly the same: pepperoni baked in the middle of bread, the oils of the pepperoni seeps into the bread and it's darn tasty.
So even though I though that the pepperoni ball was created in my hometown, it turns out that it was invented by Giuseppe "Joseph" Argiro at the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont, West Virginia, in 1927. Since they don't have to be refrigerated, it was a convenient lunch for coal miners. They sold for a nickel a pop. It's now the state food of West Virginia.
This origin may be in dispute as there is another bakery claiming the creation if the pepperoni roll in 1925. Chico Bakery claims "Julia's Pepperoni Roll."
The pepperoni roll made its way to Detroit where workers had a fifteen-minute lunch break. This was before unions after all and like the miners, the workers wated something quick.
The military has also added pepperoni rolls as a MRE.
I'm not sure how the pepperoni roll made its bay to Erie, as my research has not resulted in any results. In fact, I can't find any agreement whether the pepperoni balls are baked or fried, but somehow along the way, they changed into balls rather than rolls.
If you want to make your own dough, you can use this recipe.
1 package active dry yeast, (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading and dredging
3/4 cup warm water, (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
Stir together yeast, 1 tablespoon flour and ¼ cup warm water in a measuring cup and let stand until surface appears creamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t appear creamy, discard and start again with new yeast.)Stir together 1 ¼ cups flour and alt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture, oil and remaining ½ cup warm water and stir until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour (about ½ cup) so dough comes away from side of bowl.Knead dough on a dry surface with lightly floured hands until smooth, soft and elastic, about 8 minutes. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 ¼ hours.
You don't have to use sliced pepperoni. The meat can be a stick, sliced, chunks or whatever you want. I would also suggest salami as an additional meat or as a substitute. You can also try a variety of cheeses. I like mozzarella, but there is no reason that any of the Italian cheeses wouldn't work: provolone, asiago, fontina, parmesean. Anything you would put on a pizza should work.