It’s not every day you get a text such as this: “Yeehaw breakfast biscuits: truffle mayo, scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, balsamic caramelized leeks, parm … I’m obsessed!”
For several weeks now, I’ve received a series of random messages extolling the joys of savory swirly buns. One, from Dan Fiocco of Moose’s Tooth Pub and Pizzeria in Anchorage, included photos of a perfectly cooked egg balancing on a savory roll. Apparently, Fiocco’s wife, Cassie, was inspired by a recipe from Deb Perelman — of the Smitten Kitchen blog — for a savory breakfast bun made with a homemade pizza-like dough.
“At the beginning of the pandemic,” Cassie wrote, “my daughter Finley and I were craving cheddar buns, and we had what seemed to be all the time in the world but yeast had disappeared from every grocery store in town. I asked Dan to bring home a medium dough ball from Moose’s Tooth.” With the ready-made dough they’ve been making the rolls more often and have experimented with everything from smoked gouda and crispy prosciutto to mirepoix, dill and bacon. They’ve even made them into cinnamon rolls.
Another friend, Cindy Berger — author of the above “Yeehaw” biscuit text — has made these more than 20 times, adding in whatever bits she has from previous meals. “Everyone I’ve made these for love the ones filled with kimchi sautéed in butter until caramelized … Or with Moose’s Tooth buffalo sauce, pesto, leeks, and cheese!” Clearly there are as many options for fillings as there are cooks and eaters.
Isn’t the best part of eating a pizza that first bite that immediately tells your brain more, more, more? The same for these pinwheels; they’re a little deceptive in that they come in small packages, but it’s hard to stop at just one or two.
If you feel the need to knead some dough, make your own. But if you’re mostly inspired by the heart of the matter, then call ahead to your favorite pizzeria or bakery and pick up a few portions of dough — it freezes well, too. For testing purposes, I used a medium-size dough ball from Moose’s Tooth, which ends up making 12 to 14 pinwheels, and made a few versions with whatever I could forage in my kitchen. A well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or glass pie plate works best, greased and lightly dusted with a sprinkle of cornmeal or semolina for a nice, crunchy bottom.
So you might want to pull on some looser pants, buy up some dough balls and start filling and rolling. While perfect warm out of the oven, they travel well and are equally addictive at room temperature or lightly toasted the next day for breakfast.
Makes 12 to 14 pinwheels
14 to 16 ounces pizza dough, homemade or ready-made
1 cup marinara sauce (or other favorite sauce, see suggestions below), plus more for serving
1 to 1 1/2 cups/4 to 6 oz. shredded mozzarella (or provolone, fontina, Parmesan)
1 cup optional ingredients: sliced pepperoni; sliced mushrooms; sautéed kimchi, olives, etc.
Marinara sauce, for serving (optional)
-Kimchi sautéed in butter 10 minutes/until caramelized + cheese + black sesame seeds
-Pesto + provolone
-Cooked bacon/lardons + sour cream + onion + grated nutmeg/fresh thyme
-Mozzarella + fresh basil + garnish with arugula
-Cinnamon + sugar + melted butter + chopped pecans
-Almond paste + maple-cream cheese glaze
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour. Roll or push/stretch pizza dough into a rectangle about 10 by 14 inches. Gently press fingertips all over to make dents; this will help prevent air bubbles. Spread with a layer of sauce, if using, and sprinkle with mozzarella and pepperoni (or other ingredients). Starting from the longest side, roll (as you do with a cinnamon roll or jelly roll) into a log and pinch edges to seal; place on a baking sheet, uncovered, and let chill in refrigerator 15 minutes (this will result in a cleaner slice).
2. Lightly grease with butter or cooking spray two (8- or 9-inch) pie plates or a large heavy cast-iron skillet (or a baking sheet). Dust bottom of skillet/pie plate with cornmeal, if desired. Remove logs from refrigerator and cut, using a serrated knife, into 12 to 14 pieces. Place pinwheels close together, leaving some room for them to expand, in skillet/pie plate. NOTE: consider adding a dusting of more cheese or herbs or pepper. Bake 30 to 35 minutes and until tops are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes. Serve, if desired, with more marinara sauce.