Chock-full of pepperoni and cheese, this bread is rolled into a big log, baked, and then sliced into small rounds just right for dipping in marinara sauce.
Prepare the dough by measuring the water (which should feel slightly warm to the touch) into a large mixing bowl and then sprinkling the yeast over it. Once the yeast starts to dissolve, have your child add the sugar and oil and whisk the mixture to blend it. Set the bowl aside for 5 minutes.
Stir the salt into the yeast mixture. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat it in well with a wooden spoon. About 25 vigorous strokes should do it. Add the rest of the flour 1/4 cup at a time, beating well each time, until the dough is firm and no longer sticky. Then scrape the dough from the bowl onto a flour-coated work surface.
Have your child rub flour on her hands and sprinkle some on the dough too. Then she should knead the dough for about 7 minutes, until it's springy and supple. TIP: To knead the dough, fold it over itself and push down with your palms, rolling the dough slightly forward as you do. Younger kids can stand on a step stool to get behind the push.
Place the dough in an oiled medium-size mixing bowl (it's fun to use a glass bowl so you can watch the dough as it grows), turning it over once to coat the top and bottom. Cover the bowl with oiled plastic wrap and set it in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough several times with your fist, then turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it for 1 minute. Cover the dough lightly with oiled plastic wrap and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, your child can dust a large baking sheet with fine cornmeal. Explain that this will keep the dough from sticking, so there's no need to oil the pan.
With floured hands, start pressing the dough into a large square. Switch to a rolling pin and roll the dough into a 12- by 14-inch rectangle. If the dough springs back when you're rolling it, let it rest for an extra 2 or 3 minutes. Keep your rolling pin floured so the dough doesn't stick to it.
Have your child lightly brush the surface of the dough with water, then, with dry hands, sprinkle the basil over the dough. Arrange the pepperoni in long rows over the entire dough, except for a 1-inch border on all sides. Then sprinkle on the cheese. TIP: When choosing a cheese for Pepperoni Bread, you can't go wrong with mozzarella but provolone or a combination of other cheeses will taste great too.
Starting at the long edge closest to you, roll up the dough snugly like a carpet. Tightly pinch together the dough along the seam to seal it, then pinch the ends closed and tuck them under. Transfer the log onto the baking sheet seam down and loosely cover it with oiled plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes in a warm spot while you heat the oven to 400°.
Remove the plastic and bake the loaf for about 35 minutes, until it's dark and crusty on all sides. Slide the bread onto a wire rack and let it cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting it into thick slices. Serve warm, with marinara sauce on the side for dipping. Makes 6 to 8 servings.