~ Mel's Rotolo di Pizza (Stuffed Pizza Rolls/Bread) ~
This rolled sandwich, containing a savory combination of antipasto staples, is in the top five of my family's any-time-of-day snacks -- it's a perfect lunch too. My kids always called it pizza bread, because before it's sliced it looks like a loaf of bread. Once sliced, it reveals a cross between everything they love about a pizza and everything they love about a baked sub (hoagie) -- sans the shredded lettuce and sliced tomato. I'd been making it for years before I heard Mary Ann Esposito refer to it as "Rotolo di Pizza" on her Ciao Italia TV show.
From a family-friendly standpoint, mine will eat their "pizza bread" any way I serve it: slightly warm, about an hour after it's baked, with marinara sauce for dipping. If it's on the counter, they'll pick up a room temperature slice as they pass by, and, if it's in the refrigerator they'll eat it cold while standing in front of the open refrigerator door (sigh). Before you can say "pizza delivery", for a late night snack, they'll pop a piece or three into the microwave or toaster oven.
From a practical standpoint, it's in my best interest to make several, 4-6 at a time, and keep a few in my freezer for those times when I run out of time to make something to take to a get-together, or, have guests showing up with little lead time. When sliced and placed on a platter, accompanied by an assortment of Mediterranean olives and a glass of Chianti, it's a delicious and beautiful deli-tray all by itself. I've passed it around at upscale cocktail parties, casual TGIF happy hours at our rec room bar, and, because it travels well, I've taken it to tailgates too. I always feel better going into the Fall/Winter season with these appetizers in my freezer!
I'm wed to my meat and cheese choices -- they're the ones my family and friends rave about. Substitute what you like, just remember: Don't overstuff it or the dough will split and the filling will ooze out while it bakes. If you've never made "pizza bread", I want you to succeed on the first try, so follow my recipe "to the letter", as written, because it is very specific -- and that includes the dough. Everyone's dough is a bit different, and, I can't vouch for anyone else's when it comes to making rotolo di pizza. You can make my dough via conventional hand mixing and kneading, you can make it via a stand mixer or a food processor, or, you can do what I currently do: make the dough in my bread machine, which simplifies the process considerably!
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon each: garlic powder, Italian seasoning and cracked black pepper
1 packet granulated dry yeast
2-4 additional tablespoons olive oil, for preparing baking pans
For the filling (ingredients as fills 2 rotolo di pizza): (Note: Request your deli person to to do two things: 1) Slice each item as thinly as possible without it falling apart, ripping or tearing. This is very important. The meats and cheeses can be neither too thin or too thick. 2) While slicing the meats and cheeses, have them stack neatly on top of each other so they lay flat.
12 slices deluxe ham (the large, rectangular shaped ham)
12 slices provolone cheese
16 slices Genoa salami
12 slices mozzarella cheese
20 slices pepperoni (the larger, round deli-style pepperoni)
12 slices Cooper CV sharp cheese, or white American cheese
1/2 cup finely-grated Asiago cheese
~ Step 1. To prepare the dough, place all of the items in pan of bread machine in the order listed, except for the yeast. Using your index finger, make a small indentation ("a well") on top of the dry ingredients, but not so deep that it reaches the wet layer. Place the yeast into the indentation. Insert the pan into the bread machine, plug the machine in, press the "Select" button, choose the "Pizza Dough" cycle, then press "Start". You will have 2 pounds of dough, ready to use, in about 55 minutes.
Note: Before layering the meats and cheeses on the surface of the dough, carefully review this diagram I drew. As you layer the meats and cheeses on top of each other, you must leave a 3" strip of untopped dough on the side farthest away from you, almost no untopped dough on the side closest to you, and, about a 1/2" border of untopped dough on the remaining two sides. (See - I can sketch too!)
~Step 3. Place 6 slices of ham on the dough as pictured above in the diagram. Continue layering the cheeses and meats, on top of the ham, as follows: Place 6 slices of provolone cheese on top of the ham. Place 8 slices of salami on top of the provolone. Place 6 slices of mozzarella cheese on top of the salami. Place 10 slices of pepperoni on top of the mozzarella. Place 6 slices of the Cooper CV cheese on top of the pepperoni. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of Asiago evenly over the layered meats and cheeses. Sandwich heaven!
Set aside and repeat this process with the second pan of dough.
~ Step 4. To roll the rotolo, starting with the filled, lengthwise side closest to you, roll dough up, jellyroll-style, gently, but firmly, pulling and tugging towards you as you work, to form a tight cylinder. When you reach the 3" strip of untopped dough, pull and stretch the untopped dough over the top, as taut as you can, without ripping the dough, as if you were using plastic wrap to make a tight seal. Roll the cylinder over, so the seam side is located directly at the bottom. Using the heels of both of your hands, gently but firmly rock the cylinder gently back and forth a few times, to insure a sealed seam. Return the cylinder to seam side up and carefully stretch and pull the flaps of dough on the left and right sides up and over the top, press to seal both ends and roll the cylinder over, facing seam side down.
~ Step 5. Set both pans of rotolo aside, uncovered, to rise slightly, about 1 hour. Just prior to baking them, prick the tops of the rotolo with the tines of a fork at approximately 1" intervals, deep enough to almost reach the center of the filling in each roll.
~ Step 6. Bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree, 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on pans for 45-60 minutes prior to transferring to a cooling rack to cool an additional 46-60 minutes or to room temperature, 1-2 more hours.
Note: Completely cooled, uncut, room temperature rolls can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for 2-3 days, or refrigerated until well-chilled then frozen. Remove the plastic wrap, place on a sheet of paper towels, thaw completely and/or return to room temperature prior to wrapping in aluminum foil and reheating in a moderate 325 degree oven about 15-20 minutes.
Patience is a virtue my friends. Let them cool to perfection!
Special Equipment List: bread machine; 2-cup measuring conainer; kitchen scale; pastry brush or paper towels; 2, 15 1/2" x 10 1/2" rectangular baking pans; fork; cooling rack; serrated knife
Cook's Note: ~ My Fresh & Spicy Tomato-Basil Sauce (Marinara) ~ recipe can be found in Catetories 8, 12 or 22. I make it every Fall and it's in small containers, in the freezer, right next to a 3-4 Rotola di Pizza -- how convenient is that!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)