It really took me a while to find this recipe for original German rolls, which turned out perfectly every single time.I made a lot of attempts to bake rolls but failed for a long time to get the real German taste. I searched for the right recipe in my books, on websites, and Pinterest but finally found a video that showed how it’s done. And though I had expected it to be difficult, it turned out to be pretty easy if you know how and if you have the one crucial ingredient that adds that fantastic taste.
There are a lot of different rolls (= Brötchen) in Germany and as many recipes to bake them. The most common roll in the north of Germany though is the Berliner Schrippe. It has an oval shape and a long crevice on the top but most important, it has a very special taste that I couldn’t describe or name until now. The ingredient that gives that taste is MALT. There are different kinds of malt you can use and in the video I watched, the baker used “Caro Kaffee” which is a German coffee-like powder made from malted grains. I instead ordered Barley Malt Powder at Amazon which worked perfectly!
The malt has 3 functions:
- It adds a delicious taste.
- It adds some color (the more you use, the darker the rolls).
- It boosts the yeast.
So, if you don’t have malt I definitely recommend getting some before you try this recipe.
The thing that gave me the most headache about making rolls was when to start. Most of the recipes I read had long waiting times and since we mostly enjoy rolls for breakfast, it would have required to get up at 4 am to have the rolls in the morning. No way!
Now, here is the solution for this recipe. First of all: From start to having the cooled rolls ready to eat, one needs roughly 2 hours (including the proofing and baking time). That is not too bad and if you want to have the rolls for dinner this is absolutely reasonable. However, if you want them in the morning, you simply prepare them to the point where they should rise one last time before they go into the oven. Instead of letting them rise in the kitchen at room temperature, you cover them with a damp towel and put them into your fridge overnight. In the morning you take them out and let them get to room temperature (about 45 – 60 minutes while you preheat the oven, take a shower, sip a coffee) and then bake them.
Confused? Here is a cheat sheet that will help you: Timeline for baking German Rolls
This yeast dough is different
In the past I thought it is a given that you use warm water with the yeast and the order of the ingredients is first the flour, then the water, then the yeast … forget all that for this recipe! It really starts with the water and the yeast. It is important that the flour comes next, so the salt won’t touch the yeast mix at that point. Salt is the natural enemy of yeast so never let them get in direct contact.
Kneading the dough
I am very fortunate to have a KitchenAid machine that does the kneading for me. But I am very well aware that not everybody has enough space or the budget for this. If you knead with a hand mixer, you should know that your mixing time might be significantly longer than with the machine (and you might have to switch to hand kneading after a while). Same if you knead completely by hand. I’ll show in the video how you will know when your dough is ready. For baking bread and rolls, a long kneading time is important to get the gluten to react.
Gluten forms when water is added to flour and is mixed. During mixing, a continuous network of protein forms, giving the dough its strength and elasticity. By holding gas produced during fermentation, the protein network allows bread to rise.
The Temperature, Oven and more
- You can use your regular oven for baking the rolls. Start with a high temperature of 475°F when preheating the oven. Please preheat the oven for a long period of time, so the walls of the oven are really hot. I recommend getting an old baking pan from the thrift store, filling it with clean rocks (about fist size) and putting this on the lowest oven rack.
When the German rolls are just in the oven, you spray or pour about 50 ml (1/4 cup) of water onto the stones and quickly close the oven. Now, reduce the oven temperature to 425°F. Don’t open the oven before the rolls are almost done. The humidity in the oven will keep your rolls moist for a longer time, meaning they will not dry out during the baking process. At about 2-3 minutes before the rolls are done, you open the oven door and let the steam escape. This gives the rolls a nice crisp outside – just as we like it in Germany.
Increasing the taste of the German rolls
In my video, you will learn how to make the rolls within like 1.5 hours and they will taste very good. However, if you want to increase that taste, it needs more time.
There are in general two ways of proofing a yeast dough: a) Letting it proof fast at warm temperature or b) letting it proof slowly at a low temperature. The long, cold proofing will always result in an increased taste since there is more time for the chemical reactions.
So if you want to have the rolls in the evening, you might want to start the dough in the morning or if you want to eat them in the morning, make the dough in the evening and bake it in the morning.
Authentic German Rolls - Berliner Schrippen
- Put about half of the water into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the yeast to the water.
- Use a whisker to whisk the yeast with the water until it is completely dissolved.
- Now first add the flour, next the salt, malt and sugar.
- Add a little more of the water (but not all) and start mixing.
- Check your dough: Is it too dry, add a little more water, is it just right, keep kneading. Make sure you add the water little by littel until the dough has the right consistency.
- Knead the dough in the machine for another 12 minutes, knead by handmixeer or by hand for about 20 minutes.
- I you used a machine: Give it one more knead by hand.
- Dust the dough with a little flour on the top and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Let it rest rest for 10 minutes.
- Weigh your dough, it will be about 830 g. Devide by 10 (like 83) and make 10 portions of dough with this weight.
- Take one portion and with a hollow hand, circle it on the counter until a round shape is created. Tepeat with all dough portions.
- Let rest under a flour dusted towel for 5 - 10 minutes.
- Take each roll and press it down with a flat hand to create a flat, round shape. Flip one half over to the other half (creating half a circle). Roll to slightly close the seam (but not completely) and to make a football kind of shape.
- With the seam down, put each roll on a flour dusted towel, dust slightly with flour and cover with another towel.
- Fill an old baking pan with stones and put it on the lowest rack in your oven.
- Preheat the oven to 475°F, let the stones get really to that temperature while you work on the dough and rolls.
- Let the rolls rest a) If you want to bake them soon, let them rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes) b) If you want to bake them several hours later, let them rest in the fridge for several hours or overnight. Let them get to room temperature again before you continue.
- Put each roll with the seam upside on a baking sheet.
- Put in the oven on the middle rack. Pour or spray 1/4 cup of water onto the stones and immediately close the oven.
- Reduce the heat to 425°F and keep the oven closed for about 18 minutes.
- When the rolls are almost done (about 18 minutes), open the oven and release the steam. Then close the oven door and bake for another 2-3 minutes.
- Remove the rolls from the oven and let them cool before you eat them.