German-style rolls (Brotchen)

The sun was not quite up yet when I got up this morning


the gibbous moon was still riding high in the sky ( I put this photo in because I was impressed that my small camera could zoom on the moon and I like the word gibbous, learnt reading The Moon of Gomrath when I was a little girl – now you know)

Saturday 23 Nov 2013

One of the many lovely bread blogs that I read is Brot & Bread written by Karin  (Hanseata).  I sometimes think that people who think and read most about bread  (and end up baking it!) are people who have moved to another country and find to their surprise that the foods of their mother country are either non-existent or just different in some way that does not please. Bread seems to be one of those foods that starts this journey.

Brotchen with sesame seeds

I grew up with a mother who couldn’t cook but complained bitterly about how horrible English bread was, it is too wet she used to say, or it has no substance. In her last years when she was in a nursing home, my sister and I would be sent on food missions, to find European chocolates, usually one particular variety which could maybe be found at an airport shop, or for the ‘right’ bread. Often when the ‘right’ bread was found it was left out to air and dry a little until it had the right textural qualities that she wanted.  It is a far cry from most people’s obsession with ‘fresh’ bread: wet and steamy, warm and squidgy, with that sweet and unique aroma – I can see its charms, but I tend to share my mother’s preference for the ‘right’ bread. It’s strange how these things work. I would have been so pleased to be able to take the ‘right’ bread to her, baked by me.


So when I read Karin’s post about how hard it was to find the ‘right’ sort of rolls in the US, I had great sympathy and I was curious to make her rolls and see what she meant. Like all my good intentions, there has been some delay but I finally made these rolls with a good soft 00 flour with 10 g of protein per 100g which is about the softest I could find.   I looked at a bag of plain (soft) flour from the supermarket yesterday and it had 11.4 g of protein, hardly a weak flour if that is what one goes by.

I found this discussion of what 00 flour is matches my understanding best. There are a lot of other explanations of what it is on the net, some of which I am not exactly convinced by and some are just plain wrong. I am neither miller, nor grower, nor pro baker, so if you want to discuss this, I probably know as much,or less, than you, based on what I can read on the internet and from conversation with other bakers.

Karin’s recipe and method are very detailed and I followed them exactly, adding slightly more water to the mix. You can read it here on her blog.→  Wiezenbrötchen – German Rolls  ←

When I had finished mixing and kneading the dough was very tacky, but after the four folds described it was fine.  I tucked it away in the fridge overnight and made the rolls this morning.

They could have been a tad more golden, I think I opened the oven to rotate the trays one too many times and lost heat, but they are delightful even so.

Brotchen made with 00 flour

The crumb is fine, soft and tender, without being wet or squidgy and I am very pleased to be able to add this to my white dough repertoire and to have a truly soft roll to be able to offer to people who want them.  Thank you Karin!

Brotchen crumb

Guten Appetit!

Breakfast Brotchen with cheese

26 thoughts on “German-style rolls (Brotchen)

    1. Joanna Post author

      I love seed topped breakfast rolls like these. It is a long time since I was in Germany, but I remember the rolls. Do let me know if Mr WBB likes them :)

  1. sallybr

    I don’t remember last time I baked bread, and miss it a lot. But Phil has been on a no-bread adventure for a couple of months now, and I joined in – solidarity. But I think I’ll refresh my starter and bake a loaf next weekend or during the Thanksgiving break. I can always take most of it to our department anyway….

    lovely little loaves, they remind me of some we used to buy on the street markets of Paris, there was a stand owned by a German lady, Phil was crazy about one of her rolls, full of seeds on the surface, just like yours

    1. Joanna Post author

      There is something very European about these rolls that is exceptionally pleasing Sally. I hope you get to bake bread again soon, even if it is to give away, it is such a pleasure !

  2. Karin Anderson

    Joanna, I’m sure are absolutely right. Yearning for a kind of food you can’t get in the area you moved to is a great instigator for DIY. After experiencing Bangor High School cafeteria lunch instead of her mom’s home cooked one, my 14-year old daughter started to cook…
    Your Weizenbrötchen look great and your dreamy landscape photos lovely (as usual).
    And, of course, I am very happy that you like my little rolls. I’ll link your post to mine, too.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Like them? Karin I adored them! I was wondering if one could use soft wholemeal flour in the same way, the sort they sell for pastry, or make a part mix of white and wholemeal. They shaped up beautifully I thought, very pleased with them. Good for your daughter starting to cook, one of life’s most important skills :)

  3. heidiannie

    Those are beautiful and I love the texture. I like all different types of bread- and these look quite good for just plain butter or cheese on top. I may give these a try. Thanks again, Joanna, for highlighting another style.

    1. Joanna Post author

      They are perfect for breakfast Heidi, you have to imagine a basket of them all waving at you, saying,

      ‘.. go on…just have one more, I am only small and you could have a slice of cheese or maybe a little ham in there?’

      (Officially crazy, the bread basket talks to me…. )

  4. hotlyspiced

    I wish your mother had been able to taste your rolls and see what a baker you have become. Interesting how your mother couldn’t cook yet she certainly knew what she wanted in terms of bread! xx

    1. Joanna Post author

      It would have amused her I think, though she would probably have said that it took rather a long time :) My mother loved restaurants and she was very fond of activity food, preferably food that involved peeling things, artichokes, prawns etc…

  5. bidness44

    Thanks for this great post…it’s on my list to try soon also! I remember what we called breakfast rolls when we visted Germany, they were just so perfect with cold cuts and cheese or just with butter. I was in heaven, since I prefer savory to sweet breakfast things. Mmmmm….!

  6. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    Delicious. Delicious, delicious, delicious. I love all the seeds on top too. I would serve it with the new English cheese which we’re all hooked on, a West Dorset cheddar! I think of all of my English friends ever time I take a bite… :) xxx

    1. Joanna Post author

      Temporarily abandoned toast and it’s great to have a change! The seeds are part of the gestalt of the brötchen – Brian is eating them with a little ewes milk cheese in the lat photo. Like the sound of your West Dorset cheddar, does it have a maker’s name?

  7. Ann

    Those rolls look fantastic – another thing on my “must try” list.
    Thought of you in your incarnation as Goddess of Small lost things when my neighbour lost his glasses in his garden – still not found!
    Love the dawn pic.

    1. Joanna Post author

      These are a definite must, use the softest flour you have Ann. Glasses are surprisingly hard to find. I have a new pair which are frameless and become quite invisible, and end up at funny angles, reflecting sky and light, almost camouflaged. I haven’t taken them out yet. Often one picks glasses up and then puts them down again, by a phone or the kettle or tucked on a shelf to keep them safe, I find most things get lost when we put them somewhere safe. We have had a few cold mornings, yesterday was the first proper frost in the city this autumn/winter.

  8. cityhippyfarmgirl

    I’m another one here that sees those bread rolls and thinks…cheese! It must have some cheese on there! (I still think my breakfasts while living briefly in Germany were the best breakfasts I ever had…they do know how to do that bread.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Yes, cheese is just lovely with breakfast rolls. I am also very fond of the brown brötchen, I might experiment with some wholemeal pastry flour mixed in and see how that goes. I love breakfast in other countries, though I don’t travel these days – yoghurt and honey in Athens with fresh bread with nigella seeds is another that never tastes quite the same at home.

  9. ardysez

    Lovely photos Joanna. Travel always inspires me to bake. I want to be able to taste again that which I enjoyed in other countries. Occasionally it even works! X

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thankyou! Have to take advantage of that early morning light when it turns up. Today it is quite misty again. Travel inspires people in lots of ways doesn’t it?

  10. narf77

    You are going to have to change your blogs name to “A Zeb Bakes”! You are number 222 in my RSS Feed Reader (dead last) and so if I can’t wade through them all the last few get left…and left…and left…and I miss out on these gorgeous rolls…we can get that 00 flour here in Tassie (don’t faint) so hopefully these rolls will be mine ASAP, but first I have to take a road trip with my daughters in search of the elusive butterfly of happiness (well, not really…we are off to hunt out Asian food shops and do some Christmas shopping but the happiness butterfly sounds better ;) ). Wish me luck…I was never very good at seeing what was right in front of my nose ;)

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