Crusty European-Style Hard Rolls

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Yield: 12 small rolls

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These rolls have a delicious crackly/crunchy crust, partly the result of allowing them to proof in the refrigerator, partly from an egg white wash applied just prior to baking. Their texture is light and airy, rather than substantial, which makes them a wonderful mini-sandwich roll. Make them slightly larger, and they're perfect for hamburgers or grilled sausage. Or serve them at breakfast, with butter and preserves, as they do in Europe.

Notice that this recipe includes just over 1/4 teaspoon yeast. Why so little? Because of the extra-long fermentation, key to developing the rolls' flavor. As the dough rests, the yeast will continue to multiply; thus there's no need to "front-load" with lots of yeast initially.

Crusty European-Style Hard Rolls

star rating (59) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 12 small rolls
Published: 02/02/2011




Egg wash

  • 1 large egg white mixed with 1-2 tablespoon cool water

Tips from our bakers

  • For larger rolls, divide the dough into 8 pieces, rather than 12. Bake for a minute or two longer.


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1) To make the starter: Mix the starter ingredients together until smooth, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight.

2) Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead them together — by hand, mixer or bread machine — until you've made 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.

3) Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 3 hours, gently deflating it and turning it over after 1 hour, and again after 2 hours.

4) Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into 12 pieces, shape the pieces into balls, and firm them up by rolling them under your lightly cupped fingers.

5) 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. They'll flatten out a bit as they rise; that's OK.

6) Cover the rolls, and refrigerate them for 2 to 3 hours. Towards the end of the rolls' chill, preheat the oven to 425°F.

7) Whisk together the egg white and 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 the hit the oven's heat.

8) Slash a 1/4" deep cut across the top of each roll. Immediately put the rolls into the oven.

9) 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.

Yield: 12 small rolls.


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  • star rating 04/06/2015
  • tracy from Pugh,pa
  • I've tried a lot of recipes for crusty rolls and these are the best ones definite keeper. Made them for Easter put leftovers in a Ziploc and still great to use for ham sandwiches. Worth the extra time and effort.
  • star rating 03/16/2015
  • Kristen from Alexandria, VA
  • Made these a couple weeks ago and they were EXACTLY what I was looking for (a hard, chewy, tear-with-your-teeth dinner roll). These are also very simple for beginner break-makers like me. I'm starting a new batch as we speak!
  • star rating 03/01/2015
  • agarusiecka from KAF Community
  • Amazing!!!! Taste just like German rolls. I have a two part question: 1) how do I double the recipe?; 2) can we form a one big ball, stick it in a Dutch oven and make bread?
    In general, if you're looking to double a bread recipe, you can double all the ingredients except for the yeast. More yeast means faster fermentation, which will leave you with too much dough to shape in too little time as well as a weaker flavor. (We love the deep, yeasty flavor that comes from homemade bread and we wouldn't want you to lose that in your big-batch of bread!) We have found that 2-3 teaspoons of yeast is sufficient for up to 24 cups (roughly 6 pounds) of flour. It may take your dough a bit longer to rise--look for the "belly button sign" to tell you its done rising: when you poke the dough with your finger, the indent should stay and not spring back. This means the dough is finished rising and its time to move on to the next step.
    You can certainly shaped this dough how you like--rolls, mini loaves, or one big loaf baked in a Dutch oven. The baking time will vary with the shape of your loaf so be sure to test for doneness using a thermometer. The internal temperature should reach 190 degrees when it is baked all the way through. Good luck and happy bread-baking! --Kye@KAF

  • star rating 01/25/2015
  • Debbie620 from KAF Community
  • I just made these for the first time and they turned out even better than I could have expected! Delicious! These will become a staple for the "bread-lover" in me! Thank you for such a wonderful recipe.
  • star rating 12/12/2014
  • Penny from Albany, NY
  • I was raised on NYC baked goods. This recipe is the closest I have ever gotten to replicating the taste and texture I grew up with!
  • 12/08/2014
  • Maraleta from Milwaukee, WI
  • I'm age 70! This was my first effort at baking bread since I was 16 and had to make bread in 4-H! The rolls turned out absolutely delicious!! I don't have but a tiny little electric mixer, so this recipe, I did all by hand, which was very easy. I followed the instructions, including opening the oven door to let the rolls cool. I will definitely make this recipe again!!
  • 11/17/2014
  • Jo from Mt
  • I need a pin button! Also will this bread be like the sandwiches you got at the train station? I really miss those.

    Hi Jo- There is a pin button on that page so maybe try accessing the page from another browser in case yours may be blocking it. I'm not sure exactly when kind of sandwich you are referring to be these are a very substantial, crusty, chewy roll that certainly would hold up well to all kinds of sandwich fixings. Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  • star rating 11/08/2014
  • member-csteidl1 from KAF Community
  • These rolls came out absolutely perfectly--just like the real thing from a German bakery (and probably many others). I used 1 cup of my own KAF sourdough starter instead of the overnight version in the recipe, and the subsitution worked quite well. As others have stated, the rolls really puffed up nicely in the oven--don't forget to slash them!
  • star rating 06/15/2014
  • Amy from Fremont, CA
  • I made these rolls for Father's Day. The "Chat With a Baker" was a great resource for questions since I was using my own SF starter. Was a bit disapoointed that the rolls didn't crisp up like in the picture and the crust was tough. Chatted with the baker and realized I didn't cut the 1/4" slit in the tops so the rolls steamed. So bummed! However, they have great flavor and full of air pockets inside. I will make these again and won't forget to cut the tops!
  • star rating 04/28/2014
  • fyrabarnsmamma from KAF Community
  • These rolls are delicious! My husband's mother is from Germany and he says these are perfect and taste just how they should. The recipe is pretty forgiving. I have left them in the refrigerator stage overnight and baked them first thing in the morning and they are still beautiful and delicious. It makes a perfect little breakfast bread.
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