Pepperoni Pizza Rolls with Marinara Dipping Sauce

About once a week, I bring a sweet treat or dessert into work. While my coworkers always appreciate whatever I show up with, one of my friends suggested that I switch things up and bring something savory this past week. I had just brought cinnamon rolls into work so his idea was for a pizza flavored roll. And that’s how these delicious little rolls were created.

I brought these rolls in on Friday (because we all know that Friday = pizza day) but I wanted to make this as easy on myself as possible, so I actually started on Wednesday by making the dough. I decided to use a soft, bread-like dough rather than an overly fluffy dough or a flaky puff pastry. I still wanted the rolls to be soft but also wanted it to be reminiscent of pizza dough, so the dough includes olive oil, dried oregano, and garlic powder to really drive home the pizza flavor. For me, oregano is a necessary part of pizza – pizza is just not the same for me if it’s not accompanied by the scent of oregano.

Anyway, I let the dough ferment in the fridge from Wednesday night all the way until Thursday night when I formed the rolls. If you don’t want to wait an entire day for the dough, you could let it rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours before rolling out and making the rolls instead of sticking it in the fridge. But if you do have the time, I think letting the slow rise in the cold fridge really gives a chance for the flavors to all meld together.

To ensure that the rolls did not dry out in the oven, I spread a thin layer of marinara sauce over the rolled out dough and then topped it with a ton of mozzarella and pepperoni. I always make my tomato sauces myself, but you can substitute with a jarred sauce if you prefer. For this, I put together a quick sauce in the Crock-pot during my lunch break on Thursday and let it simmer away all afternoon to really develop deep flavors. If you’re running short on time, just let it simmer for about an hour, either in the Crock-pot or on the stove-top.

The rest of the marinara sauce was reserved and served on the side for dipping. And because I’m slightly ridiculous and get carried away easily, I actually brought a mini Crock-pot into work, plugged it in in a cubicle to keep the sauce warm, and made the entire area smell like pizza…

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil

Sauce

  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • Oregano, basil, salt, and pepper to taste

Filling

  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella
  • 4 oz pepperoni
  • Grated Pecorino or Parmesan for topping

Directions

Make the dough. Mix the warm, yeast, and sugar together and let sit until foamy.

Mix the flour, salt, oregano, garlic powder, and olive oil together in the bowl of a stand mixer. When the yeast mixture is foamy, add to the flour mixture and knead with the dough hook on low for about 5 minutes or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and place in the fridge overnight or up to 24 hours before using (or let rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours).

Make the sauce. Add all ingredients to a Crock-pot or a heavy bottomed saucepan on the stove top. Simmer over low heat for a few hours, until deep red (or about 1 hour while the dough is rising). Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Make the rolls. If your dough is in the fridge, take it out and let it come to room temp. Roll out into a rectangle about 22×15. Spread about 1 cup of the marinara over the dough, leaving about 1/2 inch uncovered at the top of the dough.

Top with all the shredded mozzarella. Line the pepperoni slices in three or four rows across the length of the dough.

Roll the dough up lengthwise into a log as if you were making cinnamon rolls. Slice the log into 20 pieces and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic and let rise in the fridge overnight or on the counter for about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. If your rolls are in the fridge, take them out and let them come to room temp before baking. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until done. Dust with Pecorino or Parmesan right out of the oven and serve with the reserved marinara for dipping. Enjoy!

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