Full disclosure: the primary reason I created this recipe was to find a use for the 6-cavity doughnut pan that's been wasting space in my kitchen since 2009. (It's just a happy accident that these stuffed pizza doughnuts and pretzels are delicious and perfect for football-watching season.)
When I bought the doughnut pan, I really did think I'd use it all the time—you know, for all those brunches I would host, all those crafty holiday gift baskets I would make, all those glorious, stock-the-freezer cooking sessions I'd have each Sunday. But the reality is that I only used it twice (once for a job, and once to make baked apple cider doughnuts). Ever since, it has been moved from apartment to house to house to house, crammed under stacks of cookbooks . . . or (at the moment) wedged awkwardly between a tower of Bundt pans and my KitchenAid mixer so I'm forced to confront it whenever I bake.
John has asked me many times if I really need the doughnut pan—usually when it clatters out of the cabinet as one of us tries to maneuver the KitchenAid mixer bowl back onto its base. And my answer is always an emphatic yes, though I've never asked myself why. Maybe it reminds me of my mid-twenties and my time in Brooklyn and New York City. Maybe it's a token of those years when saying "sure, why not?" to random things helped me suss out what kind of adult I wanted to be. (Do I want to be the Pinterest-perfect hostess? The adventure-seeking traveler? The successful executive editor? It was around the same time that I also got into quirky eyeglasses, joined a kickball league, and purchased a way-too-expensive trio of prints from a butcher-artist in California who signed his work with bacon grease.)
Almost ten years after making the seemingly ridiculous purchase, I've become the kind of adult who can whip out a doughnut pan and make stuffed pizza doughnuts whenever the mood strikes. And if that's just one facet of who I am today, then I think my 27-year-old self would be pretty damn proud.
So let's talk about these savory stuffed pizza doughnuts and pretzels, shall we? The idea is a mash-up of two previous recipes: Pizza Rolls and Stuffed Crust Pizza. You start by rolling out a ball of pizza dough into a large rectangle. Then, you cut it into equal-size strips, put a line of fillings down the center of each, and pinch the sides together to make long pizza ropes or tubes. Once you get that done, it's as simple as forming them into doughnut shapes, sprinkling with everything bagel spice mix, and baking them to golden-brown goodness.
Since I only have one doughnut pan (and John would kill me if I bought another), I made six pizza doughnuts and three pizza pretzels, which I baked on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Of course, you don't really need a doughnut pan at all—the only difference is that the doughnuts will be flat on the bottom if you bake them on a sheet pan. (And I'm pretty sure that isn't the end of the world.)
Savory Stuffed Pizza Doughnuts and Pretzels
- 1 (14 to 16-ounce) ball pizza dough at room temperature
- 1 cup super-easy marinara sauce plus more for dipping
- 1 cup shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup chopped pepperoni
- salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- everything bagel spice mix such as Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend
- extra-virgin olive oil for brushing
- ranch dressing for dipping (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush 2 doughnut pans with olive oil, or line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment. (If you only have one doughnut pan, which is impressive enough, you can bake half on that and half on a baking sheet. Or, you could do what I did and make 6 doughnuts and 3 pretzels.)
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to an approximately 17 x 12-inch rectangle. (If the dough resists and keeps shrinking back, let it sit for 10 minutes or so and try again.) Use a sharp paring knife and a ruler to cut the dough into 6 equal (12-inch-long) strips.
- Spoon a line of sauce down the middle of each strip, top with cheese and pepperoni, and season with salt and pepper or a shake or two of the everything spice mix.
- Bring the sides of each strip together and pinch to seal; when you're done, you should have six 12-inch-long tubes. Leave the ends open for now.
- If you're making doughnuts, cut the tubes in half. Curl the ends of each piece together to make a circle, and pull the dough from one end over the other to make a seal. Fit the filled dough circles into the prepared doughnut pans. If you don't have a doughnut pan, or if you only have one, you can use one or two parchment-lined baking sheets instead.
- If you're making pretzels, place a filled dough tube horizontally to you on the counter. Grab the left end, loop it up and to the right, and then press it down a little to the right of the center of the tube. Do the same with the right end to make a pretzel shape. Press the ends into the dough to make a good seal. Repeat with the remaining filled dough tubes, and transfer the pretzels to the parchment-lined baking sheets.
- Brush the tops of the doughnuts and/or pretzels with olive oil, and top with a few shakes of everything spice mix.
- Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then serve with marinara and ranch dressing (optional), for dipping.
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