How to Make Brotchen (German Hard Rolls)

Brotchen- German rolls
Magdus / Pixabay / CC By 0
Prep: 18 hrs 30 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 18 hrs 55 mins
Servings: 40 servings

"Kipfen - wecken - semmel - weggli - schrippe - feierabend brotchen - rundstuck" - these are all German words for the very common small, white round roll that you see in breakfast bread baskets in Germany and Austria. A lean dough and steam in the oven help create the special taste of the crisp roll, and an overnight sponge gives these rolls a deeper dimension.

If you are serving brunch, these rolls can easily be ready in time. And you can always freeze them and re-crisp in the oven just before serving.


  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/3 cup cold tap water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast (divided)
  • 5 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/3 cup water plus more, if needed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Mix the bread flour, cold water and 1/2 teaspoon yeast in a bowl until it is smooth and lump-free.

  3. Cover with plastic wrap or plate (not airtight) and let this mix sit on the counter overnight.

  4. The next day, or 8 to 24 hours later, mix the sponge (the flour and yeast mixture) with 5 cups of flour, 1 1/3 cups water and 1 teaspoon yeast.

  5. Knead for 8 minutes, preferably with a stand mixer.

  6. Add up to another half cup of flour until the dough clears the bowl—meaning it doesn't stick to the sides much.

  7. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix for 4 more minutes You can decrease the salt to 1 teaspoon if you wish.

  8. The consistency of the dough should be smooth but tacky. Adjust with water, a teaspoon at a time, or flour, a tablespoon at a time.

  9. Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl or dough doubler, turning once to coat.

  10. Place a damp towel or plastic wrap over the top.

  11. Let the dough ferment for 2 hours at room temperature, or until it has doubled in size.

  12. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and form it into a log.

  13. Cut 2-ounce pieces with a bench knife or spatula. This will make about 40 small rolls. If you want them a bit larger, cut 2 1/2- to 3-ounce pieces. If you have a scale handy, weigh a few to be sure.

  14. Let the pieces rest for a few minutes, then form them into balls or any other shape you like.

  15. Coat the balls in flour and place on parchment paper about 2 inches apart.

  16. Cover with a damp cloth and let them rise for another hour.

  17. Preheat the oven, preferably with an oven stone, to 450 F for 1 hour. Place an old pan on the bottom rack.

  18. Slash the rolls with a serrated knife or razor blade.

  19. Place the rolls in the oven on the next shelf up, directly on top of the stone if available or on a baking sheet if not.

  20. Pour 1 cup of water into the old baking pan and close the door quickly.

  21. Spray the sides of the oven with water two or three times in the first 5 minutes of baking using a regular spray bottle. Bake for 15 to 20 more minutes, turning the baking sheet if necessary for even browning.

  22. Cool the rolls on wire racks so that the bottoms don't get soggy.

  23. Serve immediately; rolls should be eaten warm and crispy.

  24. Enjoy!


  • You can freeze and re-crisp the rolls in a hot oven if you are not eating them the same day they are baked.
  • To transport to a brunch or potluck, wrap them in a towel or fabric napkin in a basket.

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