Last Updated on 6 months by Tim
Crispy on the outside, fluffy and airy on the inside. This pretty accurately describes the perfect German bread roll. They’re easy to bake and take only very little practice to master.
Bread rolls used to be a special treat for Sunday breakfast. Many people in Germany used to go to the bakery on Sunday morning to buy fresh bread rolls and a loaf of bread that would last the entire week.
Times have changed of course. People nowadays like to enjoy fresh bread rolls on any day of the week. The quality of the stuff that is sold in German supermarkets is very debatable. Often, the wheat bread rolls have little to no flavor at all.
I’ll promise, these ones won’t disappoint! They’re honestly better in taste and texture than any other bread roll that I’ve tasted so far. And I’m only using a very basic recipe. It is super easy to bake bread rolls better than the ones sold in your local bakery at home.
The Building Blocks of German Cusine Series
This article is part of my basics series, which will introduce you to key ingredients and preparation methods. You can find all these articles in the ‘Basics’ category of this blog. Listed below are the articles that have yet been published in this series:
- Swabian Pretzels (‘Schwäbische Laugenbrezeln’)
- Kratzete, Eierhaber
- Duchess Potatoes (‘Herzoginnenkartoffeln’)
- Ribbon Noodles (‘Bandnudeln’)
- Muesli (‘Müsli’)
- Breakfast Bread Rolls (‘Weizenbrötchen’)
- Potato Puree (‘Kartoffelbrei’)
- German Potato Dumplings Bavaria-style (‘Bayerische Kartoffelknödel’)
- German Potato Dumplings Thuringia-style (‘Thüringer Kartoffelklöse’)
- German Bread Dumplings (‘Semmelknödel’)
- German Potato Pancakes (‘Reibekuchen’)
- Potato Noodles (‘Schupfnudeln’)
- German Boiled Potatoes (‘Kartoffeln’)
- Homemade Beef broth (‘Fleischbrühe’)
- German Pancakes (‘Pfannkuchen’)
- Homemade Semolina Soup Noodles (‘Hartweizen-Suppennudeln’)
- Chicken Broth (‘Hühnerbrühe’)
- Spaetzle (‘Spätzle’)
How to prepare the dough for bread rolls
I like to use a poolish to give my bread rolls a little more flavor. It doesn’t help much with freshness as bread rolls are so small. Eaten fresh they taste the best. If you have any leftovers, freeze them.
The poolish is 100 g of flour combined with 100 g water and 1 % fresh yeast. Yes, it needs to be fresh yeast. And yes, this is part of the reason why the bread and pastries in Germany taste so astonishingly good.
The next day, you can assemble your dough. As this is a basics recipe, the hydration level is 60 %. That is very easy to work with. If you’re more experienced, you can go up to 65 % to get a fluffier crumb.
The secret ingredient to get your bread rolls flavorful is barley malt. I use the enzymatically inactive variant, as I only add it for flavor. You will instantly recognize its flavor after taking your first bite of the finished bread rolls. However, if you can’t source barley malt, you can also omit it.
The lard can be substituted with butter or neutral vegetable oil. I use it because it is traditional and I love the taste of animal fats.
It’s important that you knead the dough until it is smooth and less sticky. Otherwise, the dough won’t have enough strength to hold its shape and rise properly.
How to rise and proof your dough
You will have to let your dough rise two times. The first time you are looking for it to double in size. After that, you can deflate your dough, divide it, and form it into smooth dough balls.
The smoother the dough balls, the better they will look at the end! You can achieve smooth dough balls by rotating the dough under the palm of your hand.
Let the bread rolls proof until they have doubled in size again, 20-30 minutes, in a warm spot. Always cover them with a wet paper towel, to prevent the surface from drying out.
How to bake the bread rolls
Just before baking, score your bread rolls deeply with a serrated bread knife by cutting across a diagonal line. Spray the surface with water before putting them into the oven.
The bread rolls are baked at 230 °C (450 °F). You will need a lot of steam to get them to expand properly. Therefore, for the first 10 minutes of baking, open the oven door every two minutes and spray the surface of the bread rolls with water. This will make them super fluffy and give you a good crust in the end.
The last 15 minutes of baking are for crisping the bread rolls and to get some color on the crust. Just pull them out when you feel they are ready.
Once they are out of the oven, lightly spray them with water. This will give them a nice sheen. Let them cool down for at least 20 minutes before cutting them open. Bread rolls are perfect when they’re still a little warm on the inside.
I like to eat these with a little jam on them. But you can also eat them savory with some cold cuts of meat or cheese. Once they go stale, they’re perfect for German bread dumplings.