Real Recipes From Real Home Cooks ®

hard rolls

Recipe by
Sheila Schwartz
Orange, TX

You can ask anyone who ever lived in Germany what they miss most and get varying answers until Brotchen is mentioned or Berliner Schrippen or any number of regional names that the Germans have for their hard rolls. Then it's: "Oh, I miss those!", "They were so good!", "Why can't we get them here?", "Why don't my rolls turn out like the ones we used to get in Germany?" I became disappointed with all the recipes I had read and tested so I decided to write my own with the experience I had gained. This is the recipe that was inspired by the search for the elusive Brotchen. I hope you like them.

yield 12 serving(s)
prep time 2 Hr
cook time 18 Min
method Bake

Ingredients For hard rolls

  • 500 g
    bread flour
  • 7 g
    dry yeast
  • 300 ml
  • 1/2 tsp
  • 8 g
  • 2 Tbsp
  • 2 lg
    egg whites
  • 2 tsp
    diastatic malt (optional)
  • 1 lg
    egg white
  • 1 Tbsp
    water or milk
  • 1 pinch

How To Make hard rolls

  • 1
    I use grams because it's a more accurate measurement. For example, 500 grams is 17.637 oz. Also, I measure by weight because volume can be inconsistent and product results can vary. Beat the two egg whites to stiff peaks, set aside to be folded into the dough later.
  • 2
    Salt can inhibit the yeast if it comes into direct contact with it. I always add the salt on the opposite side of the bowl from where I'm adding the yeast. This makes sure the yeast will mix with the flour before coming into contact with the salt.
  • 3
    Start by putting the flour, yeast, salt, malt (optional), and shortening into a mixing bowl.
  • 4
    Mix adding water a little at a time until all ingredients are incorporated.
  • 5
    Fold in beaten egg whites. If the dough is too wet, add a little flour. Same with too dry, add a little water. Small increments work best. Knead dough until it is smooth and glossy. This takes about 8 to 10 minutes in a stand mixer. If kneading by hand, this will take significantly longer. If using a stand mixer, after 5 minutes, keep checking the dough every few minutes to test the gluten's strength. The dough should be stretchy and soft with some pullback. If it's not smooth and silky, keep kneading. Over kneading, however, will make the rolls tough and hard to chew.
  • 6
    If you are kneading by hand, I find that buttered hands and counter facilitate a better dough than a floured surface. This will prevent too much flour from being worked into the dough. If this happens, the dough will be dense and heavy.
  • 7
    (Note: Before adding your dough to your oiled bowl, place it on a scale and zero it. Then place the dough in it. This will give you the weight of the dough. Just divide by how many rolls you want to make. You should be able to get 12 rolls from this recipe.) Once the dough is ready, place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap (coat with a non-stick spray or oil before covering the bowl), it's better to leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight to develop flavor.
  • 8
    If you don't have time to wait for the dough, let it sit at room temperature for about 40 minutes or until it has doubled in size. Overproofing will result in flat rolls. If your kitchen is too warm, the dough will overproof and will not rise in the oven while baking.
  • 9
    Gently remove the dough from the bowl onto an oiled surface. I don't bother to punch it down. Cut the dough in quarters, once the dough is in manageable pieces then you can cut off about 85g or 3oz chunks. I use a scale to make sure I don't end up with a tiny roll when I'm finished with the rest.
  • 10
    Take each piece of dough and hold in both hands, fingers pointing away from you. Curl your fingers into the dough and fold it into itself. Do this over and over again until a smooth skin appears on the outside, it won't take much effort to get the desired texture. You will feel the dough firming up from being manipulated and the gluten strands stretched. It won't be completely smooth because it will have air bubbles in it. Fold the dough into a vague football shape and place on parchment paper or non-stick pan. Cover and leave at room temperature to proof a second time for about half an hour.
  • 11
    This last part is super important if you want the crunchy hard roll consistency. If this part isn't done right, then all you have are just bread rolls.
  • 12
    Place a pan filled with about 6 cups of water in the bottom of the oven. I use a disposable aluminum pan for this. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F for a minimum of 15 minutes. The water will start to boil and build up steam in the oven. Keep an eye on the water level!
  • 13
    While the oven is preheating, take a very sharp knife or a razor and gently make a slit in the top of each roll. This breaks the surface tension and allows the roll to expand.
  • 14
    Take the remaining egg white and whisk it with about a tablespoon of water or milk and a pinch or two of salt. I never measure this part so, whatever looks good. I add salt because I like the skin to be just a little salty. Using a pastry brush, brush each roll with the egg wash. Make sure you get the whole surface area.
  • 15
    Reduce heat to 425 degrees and place the tray of rolls into the oven being careful not to allow too much steam to escape. I generally cook one pan of rolls at a time to allow plenty of air movement in the oven.
  • 16
    If you have a cast-iron skillet or pan that can take the heat without being ruined, then place that on the bottom of the oven instead. Then after placing the rolls in throw a handful of large ice cubes into the pan. (I don't do this because, sadly, my icemaker is no longer amongst the living.)
  • 17
    Between batches of rolls, make sure to bring the temperature back up to 475 degrees and build up the steam again. The high temperature and the steam are what creates the crust on the hard rolls. Don't forget to lower the temperature again or you'll have hockey pucks instead of rolls!
  • 18
    Bake the rolls between 15 to 18 minutes depending upon your oven and what type of pan you are using. Dark pans cook faster than light ones. I can't tell you how many times I burned something because the recipe was written for use with a light-colored pan. I don't like using the dark pans anymore so this recipe is definitely written for the light-colored ones.
  • 19
    Surprisingly enough, this dough makes very good donuts too. I found out by accident when I had just a little dough leftover. I had a pan full of oil leftover from something else so I heated it up and made little donut holes. Rolled them in sugar and Bingo! My kids really liked them and they are some very tough critics!