Pepperoni & pineapple pizza braid
Between the allure of Goodwill’s mismatched bowls and several enticing lunch options, I love spending weekend afternoons just wandering around my neighborhood. I often stop in at When Pigs Fly Bakery for a pretzel or a giant cookie, and one of my recent trips introduced me to a magical bread with pineapple pieces in a slightly sourdough base. With immediate visions of pizza and egg-washed braids flooding my brain, I headed down the street to the Italian shop for pepperoni and then home to start experimenting.
But the origin story of this bread actually traces back to high school and the Pizzicato across the street. I loved the pizza almost as much as the pastel-covered mints in a bowl by the register, and on lucky days they had my favorite: pepperoni and pineapple. It’s like Hawaiian, except actually good. And while this bread doesn’t achieve quite the same pepperoni-to-everything-else ratio or the same level of beautiful greasiness, it does manage to evoke the warm and fuzzy memories of scarfing pizza in order to get to biology class on time.
With this somewhat contradictory jumble of tastes and textures as my guide, I started figuring out how to create the vision I’d had in the bakery. It took some testing and I left behind the original pizza dough for a slightly lean brioche, but eventually it all came together in a rich but light bread with pockets of pepperoni and roasted pineapple nestled inside. Along with plenty of cheese, of course.
Plus it’s gorgeous. Egg wash is always a good idea.
Lessons I learned the hard way:
- Roll your dough strips to about 1/8” thick and 4” wide for ease of rolling up the fillings.
- Roast the pineapple to dry it out and avoid soggy pockets in your bread.
- Baking evens out all of the imperfections of your braid. Don’t even worry about it.
- ½ c. flour
- ¼ c. lukewarm water
- 1 T. sugar
- ¼ t. instant yeast
- 1½ c. flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 T. sugar
- 1¼ t. instant yeast
- ½ t. salt
- 5 T. butter, room temperature, sliced
- 4 oz. mozzarella, sliced
- 4 oz. pepperoni, chopped
- 1 c. pineapple, chopped
- 1 egg
- Make the sponge: Stir together all ingredients. Cover and let sit at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Make the dough: Add the flour, eggs, sugar, yeast, and salt to the sponge and mix until fully incorporated. Add the butter one slice at a time while kneading in an electric mixer or by hand. Continue to knead until the dough looks satiny and feels elastic, about 3 minutes. Cover and let rise 1 hour. Gently deflate the dough and chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roast the pineapple until it just starts to brown, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
- Divide your chilled dough into three equal portions. Roll each into a long oval about 4" wide and ⅛" thick. Cover the middle of each dough strip with cheese, pepperoni, and pineapple, making sure the dough will fully enclose the filling. Fold each side toward the middle and press together to seal.
- Arrange the three filled dough strips next to each other and press all three ends together at one end. Cross the left outside strand to the middle of the other two strands, then cross the right outside strand to the middle. Continue in the same pattern, crossing the outside strand to the middle and alternating sides.
- Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
- Beat the remaining egg in a small dish, and brush it over the entire top and sides of the loaf. Bake for 35 minutes, until deeply golden on both top and bottom.
Didn’t grow up with long hair? Check out this braiding video.
Bread dough adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum via Epicurious.