Rather than maneuvering our favorite whole-wheat pizza dough into a typical circle, for this recipe, you'll want to stretch the dough into a long rectangle. Once it is a big enough rectangle, picture the dough divided into thirds, the long way - pick out the center third and that will be your landing strip for the toppings. First up was a smear of a garlic and herb cheese spread - I opted to use those creamy swiss-based Laughing Cow cheese wedges since we already had some in the refrigerator, but you could use a flavored cream cheese spread or certainly a product like Boursin.
Pepperoni rounds were then layered on top, followed by shreds of mozzarella cheese and a light scattering of salty Parmesan. To form the unique appearance on top, slits are cut down the long unfilled sides of the dough about 1" apart and then stretched down at an angle over the filling to the other side, alternating side to side. For a glossy shine and an enriched golden color, an egg yolk is whisked together with a few drops of water, then is used to bathe the dough all over, taking care to brush all the nooks and crannies. We sprinkled the filled braid with black sesame seeds, but regular sesame seeds or even poppy seeds would be good additions.
If you have a big enough pizza stone, feel free to slide this onto it instead to bake - I was tempted to try with ours, but glad I decided against it as one end would have flopped over the edge... not good! Because the cheese inside will be quite hot and molten, give it a good 5 or 10 minute rest before you slide your knife through to cut the portions out. While it looks like it took a lot of effort, it was really a snap to assemble and a lively way to perk up pizza night. That thin layer of herb cheese was a snazzy way to impart extra flavor like a sauce would, but makes for a much cleaner presentation. Instead of trying to stuff the sauce inside, just fill up a dish on the side for dunking! I'm thinking a couple batches of this would be a good finger food to lay out and serve as an appetizer or on a buffet - everything is encased in its whole wheat pizza shell and at room temperature, the cheese won't ooze out everywhere!
Braided Pepperoni Pizza Bread