They once were lost, but now they’re found… Crusty Hard Rolls

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Ah, there you are at last – the rolls I’ve been dreaming of lo, these many years.

My lost buns.

My… oh, never mind the superlatives. Let’s cut right to the chase.

Years ago Sue Gray, a long-time colleague here in the King Arthur Flour test kitchen, developed a recipe for light-textured, crisp-crusted, wonderfully flavorful, and truly elegant-looking hard rolls. They were featured on the cover of one of our catalogues; I remember the picture well, as it was one of those “I want that bread RIGHT NOW” shots.

Now, this was before online recipe boxes, or similar virtual storage methods. So I tore the recipe out of the paper catalogue and filed it… somewhere. Out of sight, out of mind. I made the rolls a few times, then forgot about them.

Until recently. In the process of having our office painted, the King Arthur Web team had to relocate for a few weeks; which entailed moving a whole bunch of stuff, including my collection of catalogues stretching back to the very first one, in September, 1990.

While trundling my catalogues down the hall to our temporary new home, I came across this one, from February, 2000:

There they are! Those rolls. The ones I loved so much.

But where’s the recipe? I’d already torn the page out of the catalogue, and my days of keeping manila folders stuffed with paper recipes is long gone.

Luckily, I found it online. With over 2,000 recipes on our Web site, it took a bit of searching; but the word “crusty” turned up 8 recipes, and I was quickly able to identify the one for these rolls.

Eureka! Made ’em. Loved ’em. They’re everything I remember.

And now, before I forget – I’m bookmarking this blog post!

Join me as I make Crusty European-Style Hard Rolls.

First, we’ll make a starter. Put the ingredients below in a bowl. The same bowl you’ll use the next day to make the dough is a good choice.

1/2 cup cool water
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

Mix until well combined. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight.

Next day – see those bubbles? Yeast, flour, water, and time, hard at work!

Add the following ingredients to the starter in the bowl:

3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

Mix everything together until cohesive.

Then knead for about 7 minutes (at medium speed in a stand mixer). Knead about 10 minutes by hand.

Your goal is a soft, somewhat smooth dough; it should be cohesive, but the surface may still be a bit rough. It may also stick to the bowl just the tiniest bit.

Of course, you can also do this whole process (including the first rise) in the bread machine set on its dough setting.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, or in an 8-cup measure, as I’ve done here. The measuring cup makes it easy to track the dough’s rise.

After 1 hour, it will have barely risen – the 3/8 teaspoon yeast in the recipe is working slowly. But that’s OK, we want it to, because we’re giving this dough a long rise.

Gently deflate the dough, and return it to the cup or bowl.

Wait another hour; ah, that’s better.

Deflate the dough again, and return it to the cup or bowl.

Wait 1 more hour (for a total of 3 hours since you started).

Better still. See those air pockets? Yeast at work.

Did you know that yeast doesn’t reproduce in a low-oxygen environment – e.g., when it’s in rising dough? It simply eats and releases CO2 (which makes the dough rise), and organic acids and alcohol (which give the bread flavor).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into 12 pieces. Shape the pieces into balls, firming them up by rolling them under your lightly cupped fingers.

Place the rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover them, and let them rise for 1 to 2 hours, until they’re puffy, though not doubled in size.

I was doing an experiment here, so divided the rolls between two baking sheets. You could crowd them onto one; but for best shape, six on a sheet is a good choice.

The rolls will flatten out a bit as they rise; that’s OK.

Very gently cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap, and refrigerate them for 2 to 3 hours.

This “cool rise” will increase the dough’s output of acetic acid, which will give them the merest tang; their flavor won’t be even close to that of sourdough, but will simply seem rich and more complex than that of the typical white roll.

Towards the end of the rolls’ chill, preheat the oven to 425°F.

Whisk together 1 large egg white and 1/2 cup cool water until frothy. Remove the rolls from the refrigerator, and brush them with the wash; you won’t use it all up.

Again, don’t be discouraged if the rolls seem a bit flat; they’ll pick up when they hit the oven’s heat.

Quickly and decisively slash the top of each roll.

Make the cut fairly deep; about 1/2” is good.

Immediately put the rolls into the oven.

Within minutes, they’ll start to puff up. WHEW. It’s always a scary moment when you slash risen bread dough and it starts to deflate…

Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re a deep golden brown.

Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack. Or, for best crunch, open the oven door, and allow the rolls to cool in the turned-off, open-door oven.

Is this not a thing of beauty?

As well as a joy forever.

Nice interior. And notice the thin crust – which by the way is crisp, not leathery.

What a difference a day makes… On the left, a roll baked after a 2 1/2-hour rest in the refrigerator. On the right, baked after an overnight (16-hour) rest in the fridge.

You may be tempted to think “more is better,” but my experimenting tells me that 2 to 3 hours in the fridge is just right.

A dip in flavored olive oil is a delicious final touch.

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Crusty European-Style Hard Rolls.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. corig123

    These look delightful – I will definitely have to make them! Do you have any recommendations on when would be good to freeze them, if you can’t eat them all at once? (Midway through the process, or post-baking?)
    Thanks!
    I recommend freezing them after baking. Enjoy! ~Amy

    You could also freeze the dough after its first rise; or shape the rolls, let them rise up to the point where they go into the fridge, then freeze.Once frozen, take them off the baking sheet, and wrap airtight. And of course, leave enough time to thaw overnight in the fridge when you’re ready to bake. Cheers- PJH

    Reply
  2. argentyne

    oooooh, my very very very favorite type of roll EVER… and I can’t make them because I have throat surgery next week. No hard items for at least 2 weeks…

    gonna go make chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel frosting instead. ;)

    (but I’d prefer the rolls, truth to tell.)

    Put this recipe on the back burner, then – hopefully in a few weeks you’ll be good to go. Best of luck with your surgery – PJH

    Reply
  3. Darlene

    You have no idea how excited I am about trying these rolls. I’ve been searching and experimenting to re-create Danish rundstykker, which are literally translated to “round pieces.” Not very descriptive, but in essence they are hard rolls with billowy interiors. I’ve been able to re-create the billowy interior part, but the thin crispy crust has been elusive. From the looks of it, this may be them! Did I mention I’m so excited?

    Darlene, I hope these are the rolls of your dreams! :) PJH

    Reply
  4. ldrag

    I’d like to make these with the KAF sourdough starter I have in my fridge. How much of the starter should I measure out? And should I do anything special with the starter (e.g., feed it or let it come to room temp) before mixing it in with the other ingredients?

    Haven’t tried these with sourdough, and a lot depends on how thin/thick your sourdough is. But – I’d say try substituting 1 cup of FED sourdough starter for the overnight starter the recipe calls for, and go from there. You may need to add a bit more flour to achieve the dough consistency shown in the photos. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  5. red853

    I must make these this weekend. Are they anything like the German rolls Brotchen? I have been looking for a good recipe for those with no luck.

    Yes, actually – if you read the comments after the recipe, you’ll see one reader says they’re very close to brotchen. Enjoy- PJH

    Reply
  6. pyro98

    Yah, now I can make hard rolls. My very close grocery with the nice bakery closed mid summer. I have been missing the ‘european’ style rolls they made. (and I can’t remember the names to search for recipes). I might play with substituting some sourdough starter for the overnight starter so that I do it all in a day…

    That should work – make sure the starter is fed and at room temperature, OK? PJH

    Reply
  7. Cindy leigh

    Beautiful!
    I have been looking for a recipe for the dinner rolls at Bertucci’s. They are amazing. I thought maybe they have some semolina in them.
    I will give these a try!

    I wouldn’t doubt the Bertucci rolls could have semolina – gives them such pretty color… I think you’ll enjoy these, Cindy. PJH

    Reply
  8. emdh

    Hi PJ. Can’t wait to add these to my KAF bread/rolls repertoire! One quick question — the recipe says to knead for 7 minutes on medium speed. I thought the kneading speed (at least on a KA) is #2, which is of course low. Do you guys typically use a higher speed for kneading, or just in this case?
    Thanks!
    Emilie

    I typically use a higher kneading speed than KitchenAid calls for for, yes. On the KA, I don’t use the slowest, or the second slowest, but the next one up from that; it’s really hard to ascertain the numbers on a KitchenAid, so I don’t usually refer to them. It’s all just general guidelines, though – you really have to look and feel the dough to see when it’s ready. And there’s a lot of leeway there, too; the less you knead, the longer you let the dough ferment, as fermentation develops gluten every bit as good as kneading does. It’s all so flexible… that’s what I love about yeast bread. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  9. woglinde

    Oh, how delicious thye look ! I got to make starter today, so we can hae them tomorrow. Thank you posting the recipe. This is something I have been looking for long time. I shall let you know how I did. elizabeth

    Reply
  10. bskipton

    These look absolutely wonderful! Have you tried them with Whole Wheat or White Whole Wheat flour?
    I am not sure if Sue tried it with whole wheat but you certainly could make the substitution. Try replacing the AP with 1 – 1 1/2 c. of WWW or WW in the second addition. You may need to add 1-2 t. more liquid to balance the dough’s consistency. Elisabeth

    Reply
  11. sallybr

    Oh, these are too lovely!

    I am now tempted to try them with a sourdough starter – what do you think?

    I would have to increase the bulk fermentation time, but perhaps it would work well too….

    Do them with fed sourdough stepping in for the overnight starter. If you don’t add any yeast at all then yeah, you’d have to increase the bulk fermentation time quite a bit… PJH

    Reply
  12. maccourt

    Oh THANK YOU PJ! THIS is the recipe I’ve been waiting for. Read this at about 10:00 PM last night and almost stirred up the starter…wishing I had now. Will do it tonight and try them tomorrow. Thank you again!
    Good luck, hope you love them! ~Amy

    Reply
  13. gaa

    PJ, these look great. I would like to try the whole wheat variation mentioned by Elizabeth. I prefer to measure by weight when I bake. Can you tell me the weight measurement for white whole wheat flour for this recipe?

    Reply
  14. rcard

    The rolls look wonderful. I’m reminded of a neighborhood coffee shop that serves chili or clam chowder in a large version of these rolls. I believe they call them bread bowls. Would adding sourdough starter make these rolls into sourdough rolls?

    Substituting fed starter for the overnight starter would make these officially sourdough. They may not taste really sour; I’m thinking more of a tang instead… But they should be fine. Enjoy- PJH

    Reply
  15. sera00em

    These look great! I do have one question though – can I do the starter tonight and come back to it tomorrow around noon? Or is that too long for “overnight?”

    Do it this evening, should be fine till tomorrow noon… PJH

    Reply
  16. knitwitter

    Don’t you just love it when you find a recipe you thought was lost forever?

    Just yesterday I was wishing for a good hard roll recipe. I’ll definitely give this one a go!

    Reply
  17. DebSmithMoore

    Why, oh why do you guys hate me? I am trying SO HARD to be good and follow a “food plan for weight loss” and exercise and THEN I see THIS recipe. *SIGH* Bread very well may be my downfall…

    Bake & share. Bake & share. Repeat after me: bake & share… :) PJH

    Reply
  18. marietta

    I cannot wait to try these rolls. They remind me of Vienna Rolls. Since I left RI there is nothing remotely close to this type of roll in GA. Although I am fairly new to bread baking, I find it to be very satisfactory compared to the overpriced soft rolls from the market.
    Thank you King Arthur Flour.

    Good luck with these, Marietta – I think you’ll find they’re very close to Vienna rolls… PJH

    Reply
  19. DebSmithMoore

    PJ,

    Share with my hips, you mean? ;) I think I may have gotten “does not play well with others” on a report card somewhere along the line!

    Actually, I love to make stuff for others, so that’s a very good idea. I just need to get it out of the house before I eat it all! Not much I like better than to eat bread fresh out of the oven with lots of creamy butter. Oh man! Now I’m doing it to myself! LOL

    Reply
  20. omaria

    PJ Did anyone ever tell you you are a poet at heart ? The way you describe recipes is such a pleasure to read. Even if I am not interested in the recipe itself I still will read what you say about it. Of course I am very interested in this one. Love crunchy rolls.

    Thanks so much, Ria – I’ve always liked to think I’m part of Garrison Keillor’s (imaginary) organization, POEM (Professional Organization of English Majors); I actually did major in English in college… I just like words, and have for my whole life. Thanks again – PJH

    Reply
  21. Lisa

    This is my first yeasted bread of any kind. My dough was matching your pictures exactly until the point of turning out after first rise. They just seem too wet and sloppy. Couldn’t roll into tight balls as pix show. THey are in for the cool rise now. And I will eat them no matter what. As you’ve said, there is no “bad” home baked bread. Any ideas where I may have gone wrong? I mixed in KA for over 10 mins. on medium speed, and could not get the dough to form around the hook. Thank you for this great awesome web site!

    Lisa, I suggest you call our hotline: 802-649-3717. It’s much easier to get to the bottom of this kind of issue via a back-and-forth, live conversation. I’m sure they can help you. Hope they’re tasty anyway – PJH

    Reply
  22. yiuma

    which step/steps are actually contributing to the crisp crust? The egg white and water wash? No need for steaming/ice cubes/water spray etc…
    I cant wait to try it!Will certainly report back the result.
    Thanks King Arthur

    Yes, the egg white/water is mostly responsible – you’ll notice thre’s much more water than is usual in an egg white wash, so it’s equivalent to spritzing or brushing the rolls with water, which is equivalent to the ice cubes/steam in the oven process. Looking forward to hearing your experience with these- PJH

    Reply
  23. omaria

    ok, I am sitting here typing with 1 hand because I am eating the lovely crunchy roll. I even let it cool in the oven, which was hard to do. Now I need to go and deliver them to daughters’ house and nieces’ house before I give into temptation !

    Hope you liked them as much as I do, Ria- PJH

    Reply
  24. skeptic7

    These are beautiful. I am amazed in your courage in slashing the rolls. I have to bake my bread without slashes because I just know the knife will be unable to cut the bread and just smash it down, or will catch on the roll and deform it to and oval or ……. Do you have a special knife to do the actual cut?

    Just a really sharp one… Nothing special, though – a chef’s knife. It’s more the action – you have to be assertive yet controlled. Iron hand in a velvet glove. Slash! Slash! Then quickly – QUICKLY – into the oven. I’ve shaped baguette dough and then just practiced slashing it. It was worth it to get the “feel” of it. PJH

    Reply
  25. Holly

    Made the rolls today – a huge success!

    Holly, thanks for sharing. Isn’t it fun to find a new “go to” recipe? PJH

    Reply
  26. permfloat

    I knead my bread doughs in my Cuisinart DLC-X -I find the best thing for slashing buns and shaped bread doughs is the steel blad from the processor – serrated and very sharp!!

    What a neat idea! Thanks for sharing here- PJH

    Reply
  27. cartvl219

    I first had rolls like this when I was visiting Caribbean islands. I was a travel agent and made many visits on ‘fam’ trips and always looked forward to the crusty, spherical rolls. They were usually white but at times whole wheat. Always delicious!!! :-)
    When I lived outside of Boston, we could buy larger rolls, looked like kaisers but were very crusty and sold as Bulky Rolls. I used them to make submarine-type sandwiches. Here in NC they only seem to have one type of bread and rolls – soft, soft, softer. I will have to try this recipe, forming them as Bulkies.

    Reply
  28. davidssa

    PJ, I have a question. In your recipe, you say that yeast doesn’t reproduce in dough. But in the 200th anniversary cookbook, it says “By the end of the first rising the dough will contain almost twice as much yeast as it did when it started. … Because there is twice as much yeast working, the second rising will take about half as much time as the first.” A boo boo in the book?

    I can’t wait to try these rolls. I have been looking for good hard rolls for a long time. And by the way, yesterday I made your chocolate bar thingies from earlier this week, and my family deeply and dearly thanks you. My husband came upstairs last night when he got home and as I was nursing the baby and said, “I really like this PJ person.” You’re a hero here.

    Thanks for your kind comments! Much appreciated. I wouldn’t say it’s a mistake in the 200th cookbook; but in the 20 years since that was written, yeast research has come a long way. We JUST learned that about yeast reproduction last month, from the folks at SAF. So – I’m going with current info. from the experts. PJH

    Reply
  29. omaria

    PJ, the picture is up. Yes go to “Community”page and I think you type in my “omaria” name and you get to my page, then click on “more pictures” (For others who don’t know how to get there and want to have a look)

    Ah, and lovely rolls they are, too – hope you don’t mind my sharing the link – thanks for posting! PJH

    Reply
  30. Sheri

    I made two minor mistakes, did rise in the pan on the counter, before I chilled them in fridge, also I had a minor oven issue (I forgot I was slow roasting tomatoes) and had to keep opening the oven to remove spilled charred tomatoes, the taste is great, the outsides never got crispy brown, due to the oven door being opned and closed so many times.
    Will try again, when I am not distracted by children or my own stupidity

    Reply
  31. Kathy

    I just recently found your blog and I just had to try these beautiful rolls. My family couldn’t wait for them to come out of the oven! My husband is raving about them – says these are the kind you get in a fancy steak restaurant. Now he wants a filet, creamed spinach, and a nice piece of cheesecake to go with the rolls. I think I’ve created a monster. Thank you for the recipe!

    Reply
    1. Barbara

      Kathy,

      When hubby says he wants “a filet, creamed spinach, and a nice piece of cheesecade to go with the rolls,” you might want to ask him which two of the four items HE is going to make. :) Don’t worry if he is a non-cook, as mine could cook only scrambled eggs until I had a very serious back surgery recently and he HAD to cook. He managed quite well under my tutelage, and even became quite good at making sauteed baby spinach with minced garlic and a splash of fresh lemon juice. If Jim can cook, your hubby can! Worth a try. :)

  32. tmsyd

    These rolls are absolutely amazing! I made them as instructed in the recipe. They are so delicious! It was difficult to stop with one…OK, it was difficult to stop after two.. After reading previous comments, I am anxious to try them with my sourdough starter. What would be the amount of fed starter to use? Thank you for sharing!!

    You can substitute 1 cup (about 8 ounces) sourdough starter for the overnight starter. Glad you like them! PJH

    Reply
  33. maccourt

    My husband and I live in WI, but lived in NH for years. When we used to visit friends in VT we always made a stop to get Ba Ba Louis rolls. I made these yesterday and various issues kept delaying the process. I was doing all the various steps, just not in a particularly timely fashion. Anyways, we finally got to bite into our first roll at 9:00 PM (!) last night. My husband and I each took a bite, chewed a few times, then with mouths still full, mumbled, “Ba Ba Louis! rolls!”. I am just thilled to have this recipe. One question though. Considering the considerable time investment required, can one double this recipe? Is it just a matter of doubling everything, or am I safer making two separate batches. Ba Ba Louis rolls always came out of the freezer fine and I’m sure these would too.

    You can double everything except the yeast in the starter – use the same amount of yeast in the starter, but double the yeast to 1/2 teaspoon in the dough. I think that should work well. Glad they floated your boat! :) PJH

    Reply
  34. camhel

    I hear the Germans add some type of malt to their rolls at times (I guess from beer production). Would the addition of maybe some diastatic malt have a positive effect? What about using bread flour?
    Thanks for your help.

    You could try adding 1/2 teaspoon diastatic malt – it might give you a slightly higher/faster rise. If you use bread flour, increase the water by a couple of tablespoons, or enough to make the dough look like the photos in the blog post. PJH

    Reply
  35. maccourt

    Thanks for your repsonse on doubling the recipe PJ, though I want to clarify. Would I double the other ingredients in the starter (water and flour) or do you keep ALL your starter ingredients the same, and double everything beyond that?

    Double the starter ingredients EXCEPT for the yeast – keep that the same. Sorry for the confusion! PJH

    Reply
  36. "4importantmail@gmail.com"

    I have a Zo and would like to use it to knead the dough. First, can I mix the starter in the pan of Zo (in one corner, gently) and leave it overnight so I’m all ready to continue in the pan the next day? Second, how do I adjust the rise times for using the bread machine? Do I press the dough button as usual and then shape the dough when it finishes, or would there be more rise time required beyond the standard dough setting time? Can I actually use that special button for setting your own times for the different steps if it needs more time? I’ve never been brave enough to create my own program, but I may as well learn to use it. Thanks.
    I checked the blog and you can make the dough in the machine on the dough cycle. You can use the bread pan to make your starter in, then leave it lightly covered overnight. Pop it into the machine, add the other ingredients and set the dough cycle. Then at the end of the cycle, pick it up where you begin the second 1 hour rise. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  37. LOIS

    I made these using the dough cycle of my Zo. I shaped the rolls and froze for three days. Then I thawed them in fridge for 18 hours. The rolls came out looking exactly like your photos, and the flavor was terrific! But the crust was definitely more on the chewy/leathery side than the shattering side. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    Hmmm… might have been the freezing part; the crust might have become a bit gummy during the freezing/thawing process. This would thicken it a bit, which would make leathery rather than crisp. Also, if your oven wasn’t hot enough, this would have the same effect… PJH

    Reply
  38. yiuma

    I made it last saturday and intended to bring it to a friend .But we ended up tasting it during the ride and it was almost gone by the time we reached my friend’s home.These got great comment but one thing I wish to improve is that the crust is not as crusty and shaterry crisp as I wished for. Can I get it by increase the oven temp? Will keep trying.Thanks!
    Yes, it may be that the oven wasn’t quite hot enough. Try bumping it up 25°F and keeping a close eye on the baking time. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  39. MelonNet

    Are there any adjustments I have to make to bake this on a broiler pan? No sheet sheets or parchment about the place (T_T)

    Broiler pan would be just fine… just don’t get carried away and broil the rolls! :) PJH

    Reply
  40. marietta

    I made these rolls today and although they weren’t the prettiest things, the taste was fantastic. I have trouble slashing. I made eight rolls and put them on my half sheet pan. It wasn’t quite big enough so they became attached. I will definitely be doing this recipe again. It seems that I never get the oven spring shown on the blog but I’ll keep plugging. Also I cooked them at 450 as suggested in order to make sure I got a shattering crust for 22 minutes and allowed them to sit in the oven for an hour. Thanks for the recipe KAF.

    Marietta, are you using SAF instant yeast and King Arthur Flour? Watching the amount of salt closely? I’m trying to figure out what might be affecting your oven spring. Is your oven up to temperature, measured on an independent thermometer (aside from the oven temperature dial)? Keep at it- experimenting is always delicious, isn’t it? :) PJH

    Reply
  41. marietta

    Hi PJ! I am using SAF and King Arthur Flour. I measured my salt according to the recipe and the dough rises properly. After slashing, it deflates. I may need to check the oven as you suggested because it seems the spring just isn’t anything like the rise shown on the blog.

    Slash quickly – don’t fuss over each roll, as by the time you’re done, the first ones will have deflated a lot. And be sure to put the rolls directly into the oven – once you ascertain your oven is indeed accurate, I think this will help. One more thing – if the rolls have risen too much, they won’t have much oven spring. So don’t let them rise to their “ultimate” height before slashing, OK? Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  42. gaa

    Thank you PJ for another winner of a recipe. I made these yesterday, followed your directions (your photos are always helpful!) and ended up with a dozen absolutely beautiful, yummy hard rolls! Golden brown, crusty with soft billowy flavorful interior. Spread with soft butter, they were perfect with the split pea soup and salad that we had for dinner. Because of you, my baking skills have soared. Practice makes perfect and with each KAF blog post looking better than the one before I am getting lots and lots of practice! So many recipes, so little time! My husband and my friends thank you!

    So glad we’re enhancing your reputation as your family’s best baker! :) PJH

    Reply
  43. sophia

    Can i make the starter and the bread using “bread flour” instead of AP flour? are they interchangeable? Thank you!

    Bread flour is stronger (higher protein level) it is designed exclusively for yeasted bread baking. Loaves and rolls come out a bit chewier with bread flour. You may substitute freely between the two. Give it a try. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  44. kcalla

    Just ate two! Delicious. I became confused on the final rise time. I second guessed myself whether the rise for the formed rolls was 1-2 hours on the counter Plus similar time in the refrigerator or not. I ended up with about 2 hours on the counter and 30-45 min in the refrigerator. No matter. They were delicious. While my crust was not “shattering”, it was wonderful. Next time I will chill longer in the refrigerator and bake at 25 degrees higher as suggested. I did use a teaspoon of diastatic malt. I made some of them oblong because we had them as rolls (brotchen) for bratwurst. They were fabulous. Glad to hear they freeze well. Next time I will make a double batch. I’m saving a couple of “round” ones to have with strawberry preserves!

    Yes, let the rolls rise until they’re quite puffy, then refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, to develop their flavor. And maybe “shattering” is misleading; the crust is thin and crisp, though doesn’t slake off in shards, like a baguette does. Enjoy the preserves – sounds wonderful! PJH

    Reply
  45. smilemore

    PJ, your blog inspires me to bake! I keep making your trusted recipes knowing they have your creativity and taste signature. I have been hunting the web this week hoping for more posts from you only to find none. So, instead, I went back a couple weeks for more inspiration…which led me to this recipe! Great digging to breathe fresh life into this recipe. I loved it! Would you call this ciabatta rolls? I would like to make these into bigger loaves or mini baguettes, but I do not know what I could use them for since they are so chewy and crusty. Any thoughts? They were delicious! Bravo once again!

    Thanks so much – the word “inspire” makes ME “smile more,” as that’s one of our three chief goals here at King Arthur. We have this plastered on signs all over our buildings: “Inspire. Educate. Bake.” So, glad I could help. MaryJane and I pretty much divvy up the blogs, and it just so happened she had several in a row; I’m kicking back into gear this week (Tuesday), and will be posting frequently again.

    I wouldn’t call these ciabatta rolls, as their interior isn’t full of large holes, as a ciabatta would be. I’d call them more of a Vienna roll. And I think they’d be great for sandwiches. If you think they’re too crusty/chewy, use a soft sandwich filling (chicken salad, tuna salad, etc.), wrap tightly, and let rest in the fridge for several hours; this will soften them a bit. Enjoy! PJH

    Reply
  46. Dave

    These rolls are GREAT!
    I just finished my second batch, since the first turned out picture perfect. This time I decided to double the recipe (per recommendations above) and go for bread-bowls for soup.
    It worked pretty well, I divided the doubled dough into 8 “bowls” which were just a little bit too small to be properly a bread-bowl, but worked just fine just the same. :)

    Also, a little tip. In my haste to get them ready, I completely forgot about the egg wash, and didn’t remember until I checked on them probably 10 minutes into their baking. My wife suggested brushing on some Olive Oil, and sure enough it created a VERY good crust and color. Not exactly the same as the egg wash would’ve been, but an excellent save if you forget.

    Thanks again for the great recipe, It’s a lot of time invested but completely worth it. :D

    Dave, these would indeed make wonderful bread bowls – thanks for the inspiration, I’ll have to try that next time. And thanks for the olive oil tip, as well- bet that makes a tasty crust… PJH

    Reply
  47. irleshay

    PJ, I’ve made these twice and they were delicious and the exterior was wonderfully crunchy. But there’s one problem — I can’t get them to look nearly as beautiful as yours!

    Do you have any slashing tips? Most of my slashes disappeared even though I tried to go deep enough. Should I flour or wet the knife in between cuttings? Is a serrated knife better? I tried the first batch with a paring knife, and the second with kitchen shears (barely slightly better result). I also plan to try the olive oil tip!
    –Shirley

    Shirley, we hope to have a video of slashing techniques in the near future. I used a sharp chef’s knife, held at a 45° angle to the surface of the roll, and slashed quickly, decisively, and probably 1/4″ to 3/8″ deep. Really, it has to be fast, like swatting a fly; you can’t hesitate, or the knife will get stuck and drag. Practice makes perfect – or, at least better! :) PJH

    Reply
  48. sktyra

    I’ve always been a lurker on this blog but I have never commented before but these rolls were spectacular! After the first bite I was hooked and this will never become a lost recipe! The last batch I made I baked in a round loaf and it is just as glorious as the rolls. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Serena

    Serena, thanks for stepping up and posting your thoughts here – welcome! Glad the rolls (and loaf) were a hit for you- PJH

    Reply
  49. DebWoud

    I made these twice with great results and then used the same dough to make baguettes which also worked well. I bake in the UK and our flour is different (as you know). For your all purpose flour I substitute half-in-half our plain flour (low Protein) with high protein imported Canadian flour. It seems to work.
    In 1987 and then in 1994 I spent two separate semesters at Dartmouth while my husband taught there and I have very happy memories of your Vermont store. It is lovely to have found this blog. I use my King Arthur anniversary cookbook all the time.
    We are glad to be part of your good memories. Thank you for sharing this with us. ~Amy

    Reply
  50. maccourt

    PJ, I’ve made these three times now. First time followed the recipe to a T. They came out perfect. Second time, doubled the recipe using your instructions. Didn’t have enough AP flour, so I subbed in 2 cups of white WW. Still wonderful. The third time I doubled the recipe again, but used 3 cups white WW flour. Still good, but better with only 2 cups – they seem to be getting kind of heavy with three cups. Ok, so the question is, I was looking at the catalog last night and noticed that your Artisan Bread Flour has the same protein content as AP, but with a touch of white whole wheat. Do you think this would work well for these rolls, or is the additional cost of the flour not compensated for with additional great taste? Thanks!

    Hmmm… Tough question. The Artisan flour would work very well in these rolls; the touch of white wheat, the mix of winter and spring wheats, and the ascorbic acid all combine to replicate, as closely as possible, the European-type bread experience. I’d say it’s up to you (and your finances) to decide if the extra cost is worth it… You could substitute KA AP flour, plus white wheat and ascorbic acid, if you wanted to make a homemade version to try. PJH

    Reply
  51. "Tom in California"

    I appreciate the photos in the blog even though I made my first batch without seeing it. Next time I will use the same bowl as my mixer for the starter and cut deeper into the roll before baking. I couldn’t fit two baking pans on the same level and made the mistake of putting one tray on the bottom of the oven; burned on the bottom.
    The good news: the rolls came out great and probably the finest tasting bread I have made so far.
    Thanks KAF.
    I am glad you liked the flavor. These are tasty and beautiful rolls! Elisabeth

    Reply
  52. MelonNet

    I made this recipe on a broiler pan, they came out deliciously! Problem I’m having right now is that I prepped the starter but it spent about 12 hours on the counter and then a house mate decided to pop it in the fridge where it was been for close to 24 hours.

    Question is, should I (sadly) toss it and start over or is it still usable?

    Should be just fine if you used a good strong yeast (not Fleischmann’s RapidRise). Give it a try; it may take longer to rise. If you’re worried, you could also add another teaspoon of instant yeast. Thankfully, it takes a lot to “disable” yeast dough. Enjoy! PJH

    Reply
  53. Kathy

    Can you use ADY in place of the instant and still leave overnight? Do I follow the recipe as is using the ADY?

    Absolutely, Kathy; your rising times may be a bit longer, but no changes in ingredients are necessary. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  54. Steph

    I nearly cried when I saw the photo of these!! I’ve been looking for this recipe for years!! I spend two weeks in Portugal 18 yrs ago and ate these every morning with the most delicious coffee!! I passed over the sweet rolls for these!! Thank you so much! I can now make the rolls I’ve been telling my children about all these years!!

    Steph, SO glad we could help. I hope these match your happy memories… PJH

    Reply
  55. LL

    When I was young, we lived in Germany for about three years. My sister and brother used to get up early in the morning to stand in line at the local bakery to get the Brötchen fresh from the oven. I wasn’t one to give up my sweet slumber for any food (you name it), but I got to enjoy the wonderful warm Brötchen anyway, thanks to my diligent siblings. The indescribable sensation of biting through the somewhat chewy crust to the soft but substantial warm crumb, combined with melting cold butter and thick jam, lingers in my memory to this day. I just sampled one of the beautiful rolls I made today following your recipe, with the starter started last night, with 2 cups of the flour replaced by KA Bread Flour, 2 extra tablespoonful of water added, some plain and some with the cornstarch glaze that you suggested. I think the plain Brötchen we had in Germany had somewhat more character to them, but your recipe is definitely a keeper. I read somewhere that one should use the KA Italian flour to make the Brötchen. Will you kind people be developing a recipe specifically for Brötchen in the near future?

    So glad these come close. To develop a specific Brötchen recipe would be tough, as everyone’s idea of it (and their memory) is slightly different. I’d guess you could develop more flavor in this roll recipe by letting the dough rest in the refrigerator even longer. Give it a try, let us know how that works, OK? PJH

    Reply
  56. LL

    You’re right, PJH. Every bakery has its own way of making the various versions of Brötchen. Your hard rolls recipe will serve as a good starting point for my experimentation. Thanks again.

    :) PJH

    Reply
  57. kathi2044

    Looks wonderful. Am living in Switzerland, and believe it or not, having trouble finding brotchen that we like! That being said, I always have the flour issue here – this recipe calls for KA AP flour, would it work out with a flour with a lower protein content (9%)? I ask because other attempts at making rolls haven’t been too successful, and I thought maybe the flour was too heavy due to higher protein content. Of course, I could be completely wrong! also, can one substitute fresh yeast for the dry yeast? Will try later today, first I need to search and see what flour I have on hand!

    Yes, Kathi, you can use flour with a lower protein level; be sure to reduce the water a bit, so the dough isn’t too sticky. The rolls may not rise as high nor be as chewy, but they should definitely be tasty. Good luck! PJH

    Reply
  58. Leah1962

    Can this be doubled?

    In general, doubled recipes that use up to 8 cups flour do not need yeast doubled as well. If the doubled recipe uses 8 cups of flour or more, then do double the yeast as well. Enjoy the journey – happy baking! Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  59. JennaLynnD

    Make these! Make them NOW! Make them frequently! lol These are seriously the best crusty rolls I have ever made. My starter sat for a total of 24 hours before I used it without problem (it was lovely with inflated bubbles the size of large gumballs). I used my Pro-Line Heavy Duty Kitchenaid on the lowest setting for 7 minutes. I started with my scraper paddle to get everything mixed evenly (about 2 minutes) and then switched to my hook. All 12 rolls fit on my sheet pan without crowding or problem. I let them cool in the oven – PERFECTION! Don’t skip that part if you don’t have to!

    Glad to hear that you enjoyed the rolls, nothing compares to a hot, crusty roll with breakfast, lunch or dinner!-Jon

    Reply
  60. Opa K.

    Growing up in Milwaukee many years ago, every bakery featured Hard Rolls. A crusty outside and a light inside with a single deep groove. So, they were called “Buns.” also “Semmel.” I especially remember warm hard rolls and ham on Sunday mornings. Alas, those days are gone forever, I thought. Until I found your recipe! How would you compare this recipe
    http://www.jsonline.com/features/recipes/145709925.html?ipad=y
    And would you suggest adding malt?

    Opa, I’m surprised at the amount of yeast in the linked recipe, which is reflected in the short rising time. I prefer a longer rising time to develop flavor. But if you like it – use it. When you find something you like, there’s no “right” or “wrong.” It’s right for you. As for malt – I like our hard roll recipe exactly as is. Were you talking about perhaps adding malt to the linked recipe? I’m a bit confused, sorry… PJH

    Reply
  61. jenigerman

    Do I understand correctly…this is a total of 6 to 8 hours rise? Once they are shaped, they rise 1-2 hours on the counter, then afterwards another 2-3 hours in the fridge?
    Fingers crossed…my husband made some killer soup today, am hoping these will make it even better!
    Thanks!

    I’m betting they were delicious. And yes, it’s a total of 3 to 5 hours (1 to 2, then 2 to 3). Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  62. soren bredsdorff

    I live in Denver Colorado and was exited to try the rolls!
    Didn’t work!
    The dough was kind of dry but after sitting for 3 hrs it did rise but after the 2 hours in the fridge they never came to life again. They tasted great but did not have the light appearance I see in your picture. Each one was a meal and not light at all! We are 5000 feet here in Denver. Could that have something to do with the outcome. How about skipping the time in the fridge? Also should I use more water?
    Looking forward trying again after your answer,
    Søren.

    Søren, so sorry these didn’t work out for you. Yes, baking at altitude does require some adjustments; please read our high-altitude baking tips, scrolling down to the yeast bread section; you should find the help you need there. Or, call our baker’s hotline: 855-371-BAKE (2253). The folks there will be happy to talk this through with you. Good luck – PJH

    Reply
  63. Ron Polzin

    I have finally found some crusty hard rolls.I am from Milwaukee & I too remember Wilbers bakery on the northside.Just about every Sunday when we would come home from church we would stop at the store & get hot baked ham and crusty hard rolls.Out of this world I live in Hobe Sound,FL now not much German rolls down here.Thank you so much for the recipe
    Ron

    Ron, I’m so glad we were able to connect you with some happy (and tasty) memories. Enjoy! PJH

    Reply
  64. kathy

    These look so good………….I’m going to call them Amazing Grace rolls because your name reminds me of the song! Thanks!

    Reply
  65. Hope

    I made these and they turned out too dense and leathery crust. What went wrong? I followed the recipe religiously but the dough seemed not as soft as you describe. Help! I’m desperately trying to reproduce my boyfriend’s Italian grandma’s legendary hard rolls. Any tips?
    Usually a dense interior and a leathery crust indicates that the dough proofed for too long. Try shortening up on your rising time by about 15-20 minutes. ~Amy

    Reply
  66. Joe

    I would like some clarification if I could. After 3 of those 1 hour segments, you divide into balls and put 6 on each sheet of parchment paper and let it rise for 1 to 2 hours. Then the next think says cover with an oiled plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.
    After making 12 balls do you let it rise room temp covered for 1 to 2 hours, THEN oil plastic wrap and put in refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours, or do you make 12 balls, cover with an oiled plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. The first sequence would take (3-1 hour rises, covered for 1-2 hours then in refrigerator for 2-3 hours). That’s about 7-8 hours before it hits the oven on the second day.
    Anyway that’s what I did, (3) 1 hr rises, 1 1/2 hours covered at room temp, then oiled plastic wrap and refrigerated for 2 1/2 hrs, then egg washed, slit, and in oven. Cooked 23 minutes, until golden brown. Came out beautiful but the bottoms were really hard and NOT close to being burnt.
    I guess to improve on that next time, I should cook for less time, maybe 18-19 minutes? Taste was absolutely delicious.

    Hope you can clear the confusion up for me.
    Place the 12 rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover them, and let them rise for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature, until they’re puffy, though not doubled in size. They’ll flatten out a bit as they rise; that’s OK. Then cover the rolls, and refrigerate them for 2 to 3 hours. Towards the end of the rolls’ chill, preheat the oven to 425°F. I hope this helps, Joe! ~Amy

    Reply
  67. Karen K

    My daughter takes a warm crusty roll in her school lunch each day. I usually buy par baked rolls and heat for 10 minutes in the morning. Would like to use this wonderfully sounding recipe instead. Would you recommend freezing the rolls at a certain point in the rising process? Or would it be possible to par bake, freeze to re-bake another day? Any input is much appreciated.

    Sounds like you favor the quick and easy process of warming rolls in the morning for that fresh baked aroma and delight. To do this with your recipe, bake the rolls for 75% to 80% of the time listed in the recipe. The rolls will rise, but not brown. Once completely cooled, they can be frozen. Refresh or complete the bake at the same temperature until the rolls are browned to your liking. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

    Reply
  68. Ceci

    Your pictures and comments made it easy for me to follow this recipe. The rolls turned out beautiful and the taste was great. I added crushed unsalted sunflower seeds and raw oats to the rolls before baking for the extra crunch I enjoy.
    I am pleased you enjoyed the pictures and comments (and the bread!). Elisabeth

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Frankly, Stacy, I wouldn’t – even dried cranberries will change their light texture. But if you want to give it a try, knead them in after step #3, before you divide the dough into rolls. Good luck – PJH

  69. Dave

    while really tasty, mine were flat. they never formed a ball or rose to the occasion as it were. Yeast was not old, but the packet kind. any thoughts?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It sounds like your rolls were not properly shaped. It is important to make sure your rolls are tightly shaped into balls before rising and baking. Otherwise they are likely to spread out and flatten! Jon@KAF

  70. hydropsyche

    I’m glad you put the weight of the second round of flour in your version of this recipe. 14 3/4 oz doesn’t come near to 3 1/2 cups with the flour I’m using but it comes out perfectly moist with just a bit of sticking to the sides as you describe. I’ve read that when it comes to flour, always use the weight, if given. Maybe that is the problem some of the other posters ran into. They went with cups and ended up with a dough that was too dry.

    Btw, I made these yesterday for a dinner party. Came home and started another starter right away. Wow. I didn’t get a flakey crust but it was crunchy and chewy and wonderful. Thanks so much. I can’t wait for this batch to come out of the oven.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Nice work crusty-roll-baker! We compute the flour ounces based on 4.25 ounces per cup of flour. You’ll find more consistent results using the weights for recipes versus the volume or cup method – we’re glad you’ve found the method that works best for you. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  71. Katherine Kurzyniec

    God Bless, I’m totally hooked. Came out just like your picture’s. Thankyou, Thankyou, Thankyou!!!!!
    Gave some to neighbor, she called back to order a dozen more. We both laughed. We are in the country of NC. 16 miles to town. Therefore bake a lot for ourself. Had one this morning, with egg, bacon, and cheese. No resterant could match these. lol sent your way.

    Reply
  72. justgloria

    Do you think using Quick Shine Spray instead of egg white wash will still give a crusty hard finish? (Running low on eggs out here off grid)

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Yes! This product should work fine to give similar results to an egg wash! Happy off grid Baking! Irene@KAF

  73. Sibyl

    My rolls are in the oven and they are smelling great! But I am nervous because my starter looked very dense for a starter. I measured out 1 cup flour and it seemed to be to much, anyone else have this problem?

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      If you are scooping your flour into the cup, it packs the flour in more tightly and gives you too many ounces per cup. Try fluffing up the flour, sprinkling it into the cup and then leveling it off for a lighter more accurate cup of flour. Thick starters can always be thinned with a bit of extra water too, they are very forgiving. ~ MJ

  74. Henny Ava

    I want to make these rolls but don’t have a bread machine. If I was to do it by hand how long should I knead it for.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If kneading by hand, knead for at least 8-10 minutes until the dough is soft and somewhat smooth. Enjoy! Elisabeth@KAF

  75. Pat Hankins

    I’m fairly new to bread baking and looking forward to making these rolls. I just have a question about deflating after the first and second rise. Is the dough turned out onto a floured surface or a greased surface?

    Reply
    1. Amy Trage

      You can use either surface- whichever one works best for you! I prefer using one that is greased. ~Amy

  76. Lea Fullerton

    Made these today. Turned out okay despite my missing the part about letting the rolls rise for 2 hours at room temperature. I put them in the fridge for 3 hours. Thank you for the recipe. I will try these again tomorrow and follow the rising instructions.
    Obviously, you did fine, Lea. Long, slow cool rises are great for doughs like this; they really help to develop flavor. It will be an interesting experiment to see what the difference between the 2 batches turns out to be. Susan

    Reply
  77. Amy Dawson

    I made these today for Father’s Day. They came out ok. I forgot to cut the slit in the top so they came out tough and didn’t crisp up like in the picture. I called the help line and they explained the importance of cutting the 1/4″ slit. The flavor is great, so I will make these again and won’t forget to cut the tops!

    Reply

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