The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Vogel's picture


I've baked several things during the last weeks and I really wanted to post some pictures here, but first I had a foodborne infection from bad olives, then my camera went to die. I hope I will be able to post more regularly during the next weeks.

Work in progress: rolls

In German bakeries you can buy a wide array of different rolls. Unfortunately, since the wholefood movement became popular, a lot of those rolls, especially the darker ones with seeds, are made from whole wheat, often without long fermentation. For a lot, maybe the majority, of people whole wheat is pretty indigestible, because in contrast to rye the unwanted substances in the husk of the grain aren't fully decomposed by fermentation. I am one of those people and prefer white wheat flour.

Of course making rolls isn't much different from making bread, but I didn't really succeed in creating the thin and crispy crust of rolls from the bakery. Especially on the bottom side they were just too thick and bread-y. Now I used a perforated baking sheet for the first time and it really helped me to achieve this goal. The hot air and steam can circulate through the little holes in the baking sheet, giving a more uniform and thin crust at the bottom.

This time I made rolls with seeds and a little bit of rye sourdough. I didn't really follow any recipe and just threw some ingredients together, so don't take the following recipe as the final recommendation. Personally I liked them very much. The rolls are not shaped but just cut from the final dough, similarly to making Ciabatta. I chose this method because that's how seeded rolls are mostly sold here, too.


crum 1

crumb 2

The recipe makes about 16 medium or 12 big rolls. The dough uses a total amount of 600 grams of flour and has 70% hydration (just relative to the flour, seeds not included) and is made with both rye sourdough and a wheat poolish. It is really cold here in the house (about 65°F/18°C or even less), so you fermentation times might be shorter.

rye sourdough

  • Produce 200 grams of ready 100% hydration rye sourdough (so from 100 grams of medium dark rye flour / Type 1150) in a way you feel comfortable with. I usually do a three-stage feeding over the course of about 20 hours.


  • 100g water
  • 50g all-purpose flour / Type 550
  • 50g wheat flour Type 1050 (I think it is similar to "white whole weat flour" - you can just use all-purpose flour here too, if you want to)
  • 0,3g fresh yeast (a tiny splinter about the size of a pine nut)

Disperse the yeast into the water until you can see the water becoming slightly coloured. Mix in the flour, cover and ferment for about 16 hours at room temperature.


  • 200g rye sourdough
  • 200g poolish
  • 50g medium dark rye flour / Type 1150
  • 350g all-purpose flour / Type 550
  • 45g sunflower seeds, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 45g pumpkin seeds, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 220g water
  • 12g salt
  • 4g fresh yeast


  1. Mix sourdough, poolish, flour and water (except for 10-20g of it) until combined to a dough. Cover and let rest for about 30 minutes.
  2. Disperse the yeast in the rest of the water, pour this mixture onto the dough. Sprinkle the salt onto the dough. Knead until the windowpane test shows medium gluten development. The dough will be a little sticky at first, but become good to work with later in the process.
  3. Put the dough into a bowl, cover and ferment for 3 hours, with two stretch and folds after 1 and 2 hours, respectively.
  4. Lightly flour the work surface and put the dough onto it, smooth side down. Degas the dough with your flat hands (flour your hands if the dough sticks). Keep the dough in a roughly rectangular or square shape and stretch it more or less depending on whether you prefer thicker or flatter rolls. Now just cut out rectangular or square pieces by using a dough scraper or cutter. Try not to squeeze down the edges of the dough pieces from now on.
  5. Put the rolls smooth side down on a baker's linen or towel, slip into a plastic bag or cover in another way you like. You can also sprinkle the towel with untoasted seeds and put the rolls on them (brush off the flour from the smooth side or spray it with water so the seeds stick, or place the rolls smooth side up so the sticky side is in contact with the seeds).
  6. Let rest until fully risen. It took me about 3 hours, but will probably take less for you in a warmer kitchen.
  7. Pre-heat your oven to about 445°F (230°C) in the meantime and prepare for steaming your oven. Gently put the rolls smooth/seed-side up on a baking sheet, preferrably a perforated one. Bake with steam for about 10 minutes at this temperature, then reduce to 390°F (200°C) for another 10 minutes, depending on how fast the rolls are colouring. Bake without steam for the last 5 minutes or so.
  8. Let cool on a wire rack.


A side note: It could also work not to degas the dough in step 4, but just cut out the pieces, let rest for 20 minutes or so and bake directly, without a final proofing. I've heard of this method but haven't tried it out personally yet.


LindyD's picture

The rolls look nice.

Sorry to hear about your illness.  Were the olives that made you ill harvested locally?

Vogel's picture

I bought them at the sales counter of a supermarkt. I'm not sure where they come from, but probably from Southern Europe, maybe Greece. But that's not the problem. I think this particular supermarket isn't too serious about hygiene. I don't usually buy at this place, but I was there in the street because I had to do some other things there and just needed the olives so didn't want to drive anywhere else just to get them.

This was the first time something like that ever happed to me, so I'm not too concerned. Well, I know where I won't go shopping again in the future :).

teketeke's picture

Hi, Vogel!

Yeah! You are back!!  I hope that you will feel better very soon.

They look so beautiful!!  Nice and moist crumb, too!

Take care,


hanseata's picture

Very nice looking rolls!

It's really not that easy to re-create German/Austrian type of rolls in the US. I'm working on that, too (see:

A question for you - why do you use a starter and a poolish (instead of a soaker)?

The US equivalent for German Typ 1050 wheat flour is "first clear flour". Comparing the ash and protein contents I would use 1/2 all-purpose or bread flour and 1/2 whole wheat, if I don't want to mail order first clear.

Gruss aus Maine,



Vogel's picture

Thank you for your comment and clearing up the issue about converting the flour types. I'm not too familiar with the different types in different countries yet so help is well appreciated.

Well, why I use both a poolish and a sourdough starter? Well, maybe I am wrong and it is just a fantasy, but in my mind pre-ferments have the following purpose: They inject the whole dough with the specific characteristics of the particular pre-ferment. For the dough I wanted both the slight sourness and taste of rye breads and the fluffyness/softness/lightness of yeasted breads/rolls. So i took both of them.

Using a soaker for the seeds would probably a good idea. As I understand it soaking seeds isn't as important as soaking grain and can be omitted. But probably it would create a moister, softer roll here, too.


Vogel's picture

A little more about German rolls:

I guess it's generally hard to exactly imitate the German "Brötchen" (like this (click)) in the home kitchen. They are baked in very special conditions, in ovens with rotating sheets and things like that in order to achieve a very uniform and thin crust all over the surface of the roll.
Furthermore today most of these rolls are made with a direct dough method, so without pre-ferments but with malt and a lot of yeast. This results in only a very small portion of the starch in the flour being consumed by the microorganisms, therefore giving a very wooly and light crumb. The negative aspect of this is, of course, the lack of shelf life. After only a few hours after being baked they already taste like nothing.

I think to produce a good compromise between the texture of authentic "Brötchen" and the taste of artisan baked goods you could use a long fermentation with pre-ferments and maybe a retardation, try to prevent the dough from drying out and then bake them with lots of steam through almost the whole bake and on a perforated sheet. Use flour with rather low protein content (about 10%) and watch that the shaped rolls don't have a lot of flour attached on the skin. All these things combined should result in rolls with a lot of aroma and a uniformly thin and crispy crust.

Maybe I should start a little project and try to bake these standard white rolls at home and experiment with imitating the original "Brötchen".

hanseata's picture

You're right, those are the rolls you get in gas stations and many chain bakeries. They taste good, when they are warm from the oven and a few hours later like Dutch tomatoes - nothing-with-some-fibers.

The Weizenbrötchen I made - either with paté fermentée or with stretch-and-fold and overnight retardation - never came out right (the crumb was more like French bread), until I used Italian 00 flour - the equivalent of Typ 450. This made the crumb loose and fluffy, instead of chewy. In the meantime I found that unbleached pastry flour works as well.

With the crust I didn't have such a problem, using steam and a baking stone to keep the heat. Thanks to the overnight fermentation the taste is excellent.

This is the link to my recipe (stretch-and-fold version):

But, of course, good as they are, they are not exactly the same as good Hamburger Rundstücke.


Vogel's picture

Thank you for your further explanation. I've read your recipe and the rolls look really good. I actually have a little bit of dough left in the fridge from my Ciabatta bake. It didn't fit on the baking stone. Maybe I should just go ahead and use this as a pâte fermentée for rolls.

It's kind of interesting to use Type 405 (our "cake flour") for bread-like stuff. I always thought it wouldn't be strong enough or flavourful enough for this purpose. But actually it makes a lot of sense. "Brötchen" are very soft and white inside. And a long fermentation should add a lot of flavour anyway.

You know what? I just go into the kitchen right now and make a dough. Let's see how it turns out.

hanseata's picture

look very much like the "real thing", Dillbert. I think we have to be satisfied with achieving great taste, right crumb and a good crust - even if it's not the optimal crust like the one from your Village bakery.

When I was in Germany a year ago, I bought rolls from different bakeries, and unfortunately not all of those were worth the money - exactly as Vogel said - nice looking but not much taste.

Vogel, good luck with baking the Weizenbrötchen, and, please, let me know how they turned out!


Vogel's picture

Okay, now I've baked them. I used the basic idea of your recipe, Karin, and made a few adjustments here and there. Everything worked more or less fine. The dough was very slightly overproofed after I had taken it out of the refrigerator, but it was still alive. The biggest mistake I made was not to flour the bottom side of the rolls before baking them. Thus some of them sticked a little to the baking sheet, creating a flat and not really beautiful instead of a slightly rounded bottom. But these are things that are relatively easy to adjust, I guess.

Obviously I didn't score deeply enough. Only the one on the right really looks how it wanted it to. They are still cooling, so I cannot provide a crumb shot yet *hopes*, but here some first pictures:

Brötchen 1

My favorite one:

Brötchen 2

The crust even started to crackle and is still doing so as they are still cooling:

Brötchen 3

Thank you really much Karin for helping me doing these, providing all the helpful advice! Of course I still have to see the crumb and taste them, but I am quite happy so far.


Vogel's picture

A picture of the crumb here. Not as wooly as the ones from the bakery, nonetheless with a considerable pull-out-the-crumb-quality. The flavour was quite similar to the bought Brötchen. It was slightly off due to the dough being slightly overproofed after the bulk rise. The malt is missing too, which is noticable. On the positive side the eating quality, I mean the crunchiness, softness and mouthfeel and things like that, really felt like it should be.

Still a lot to improve, but it is a start.

Brötchen 4

hanseata's picture

Vogel, your rolls look just like they should! If you found your dough slightly overproofing in the fridge - reduce the yeast in 1 g (or fresh yeast by 3 g) steps the next times you bake them. To prevent your rolls from sticking to the baking sheet - use silicone treated parchment paper to line the sheet. (You can reuse it several times, until it eventually starts crumbling).

Dillbert, your information on scoring is interesting - I haven't been able, yet, to score Berliner Schrippen as deep as they are in bakeries. Next time I will try your technique.

I never used diastatic malt in white breads, yet, only in Vollkornbrot. I looked what Peter Reinhart has to say about it ("Whole Grain Breads") and found this:

"The effect of diastatic malt on bread is to promote crust color and release enough sugar from the starch so that fermentation is lively and the dough becomes naturally sweet. ... can make a big difference in the size and flavor of a loaf, especially when the flour is lacking in enzymes or damaged starch. .. [But] long overnight fermentation... seems to encourage ample enzyme activity and flavor development [so that the addition of diastatic malt is not necessary]. However, for those who mill their own flour, [or] find that their dough does not seem to rise in a timely manner nor brown as described, the addition of a small amount of diastatic malt could make a difference. The usual amount is about 0.5% of the total flour weight, so 16 oz [454 g] of flour would require about 0.8 oz [2 g] (1/2 tsp).

I wonder whether with overnight fermentation this addition is really necessary - and not something that professional bakers use just to "enhance" their product?




Vogel's picture

About scoring: I'm not really good at scoring yet in gerneral. I actually find this to be one of the hardest parts of baking. Often I feel like I've scored two loaves in an identical way, but the result is totally different. I've read all the tutorials and I guess it just takes a lot of practice.
I share your fear about cutting too deeply. Especially when scoring rolls or smaller loaves (and it was the case with the above Brötchen) it feels like I am already cutting right through the bottom, so I want to be extra careful. I guess the best way is to bake several things of the same type, score them all differently and see what's the best way to do it.

About sticking to the sheet: The idea was the following: I used a perforated sheet so that air and steam can circulate a little on the bottom of the dough. Before I often had the experience that when baking on a stone or a non-perforated sheet with parchment that the bottom crust got a little too thick. That's okay for loaves, but not wanted for rolls. After switching to the perforated sheet these problems immediately disappeared. The sticking is easy to prevent. I do the final fermentation with the smooth side down, so I have to turn them for baking anyway, so I can just brush the sticky side (the one that will be in contact with the sheet) with a little bit of flour before doing so. That should solve the problem.

About the malt: Thank you for taking the time and doing the research. I've also read in German blogs that you have to be very careful about using malt together with retardation. You need to go for very small amounts. I would say the intentions why to use malt vary in industrial mass production. In most cases you are correct. It is used shorten the fermentation an just produce higher amounts in less time and with less effort. That deteriorates the quality. However, you can also find white sourdough bread (if you are lucky enough to find them in Germany, since they aren't really common hear) with malt. The malt adds a very specific quality to the crust (we call it "Rösche"), very crisp/crunchy, but without being leathery, with a slightly reddish colour, and of course a specific flavour. That is something that you can't really achieve with "only" a long fermentation. The latter will produce more "bready" results.

Thank you both for your input. I really appreciate your helpful adcive and the fact that you participate in discussing all these little details. This is extremely helpful and inspiring.

hanseata's picture

Next time I bake these rolls, I'll make two batches and add a little diastatic malt to one in the ratio P. R. suggests to see the difference.

My husband thinks I am a bread snob, too, the way I sniff disdainfully when I look at breads in supermarkets...

Vogel, where are you from in Germany?


Vogel's picture

Haha, this sounds familiar. When I go to the city with someone I always drive them crazy by having to stop at bakeries to look for new kinds of bread and reading ingredients in supermarkets, mumbling things like "Look: they make it the cheap way and use sodium acetate instead of sourdough!"

I would be pleased if you could present your results from your experiments. A side-to-side-comparison is one of the most valuable ways to learn and therefore also very valuable for other members here.

Where I live? In a very rural area in the Wetteraukreis/Hessen, between Frankfurt and Gießen, with a lot of agriculture and gardens everywhere and a very wide 360° view (it is a rather flat landscape). From my perspective of someone in the mid-20s it feels a little bit like the perfect place for retirees, but I guess I like it that way.

hanseata's picture

but I know only Frankfurt's Airport. The area around Hamburg, my hometown, is also rather flat, but now I live on Mount Desert Island in walking distance to the Acadia National Park.

Thanks to the mouse-gene-engineering Jackson Laboratories we have not only lots of tourists in summer, but also a year round population that wants to eat good food (including my breads), and see interesting movies, too. (Ich hab gerade "Soul Kitchen" von Fatih Akin gesehen).


Vogel's picture

I've just googled some pictures of Mount Desert Island. Wow, it seems to be a very beautiful and diverse place. Especially the shores. I guess you belong to the group of persons who can't live without being close enough to the sea to easily go there when you need to or else feel really claustrophobic. I've been to Hamburg and in more northern places (Flensburg) about twice, too. It is really comforting to stand at the water and let the wind blow around your body. Totally different feeling from living in more central areas where far mountains shape the skyline all around you. Very different air, too.
What made you move to America (if the question is not too personal)?

I kind of envy that you sell your own breads. That would be a little dream for me. Have you learnt baking on a professional level or do you live in an area where you don't need an officially certified technical training in order to have the licence to sell self-made baked goods? I would like to sell some loaves on a marked or for our natural food store, but it is not allowed in Germany without being an official master baker.

hanseata's picture

Sunrise over Frenchman's Bay/Bar Harbor


Vogel, I married a Mainer, and moved to Maine in 2001. I now have dual citizenship.

When I first came to Mount Desert Island I thought that it was the most beautiful place in the world, a lot like Norway - but with far better food! I feel the same, a holiday in a mountain valley is fine, but I like being near the sea.

When my husband retired from his furniture business, we moved to Bar Harbor into a "fixer-upper" and during the next two years I learned more about mudding and sanding walls (wallpapers are not usual here) than I ever wanted to know...

Here in poor, rural Maine government encourages small home based businesses, people sell homemade soap, quilts, ice cream, pies, or breads from their kitchens or garages (regulations vary in different states, if you read the thread "from hobby to business" you will find some comments on that).

I only need a so called "home processors' license" ($ 20.00), an inspector came to look at my kitchen, and told me right away, that he never found a hygienic issue with private homes, but would lose his appetite listening to other inspectors' experiences with commercial kitchens....

It is a pity that in Germany Handwerkskammern (guilds) enforce such strict regulations no matter what the nature of the business is. Maybe you could find a way around having to be a master baker. I know a guy who is a self-taught carpenter and builds futons. As long as he calls himself "Bettenbauer" (bed maker) and not "Tischler" (carpenter) he is allowed to sell his beds.

There might be also something like neighborhood help, exchanging services without payment or selling breads only to "friends" or members of a "bread club". I spent some time thinking about this, because I enjoy my little business so much, that this issue would be a serious obstacle to returning to Germany for good (in case my husband declares our April 1 wedding as an "April Fools" joke, or politics here get even more obnoxious as they are now).



Vogel's picture

You really want me to do a holiday trip to Mount Desert Island. The picture just suggests a gorgeous landscape. Beautiful enough to forget my fear of aeroplanes for a moment.

Often there are indeed ways to sell "illegal" products. For example, as you might know, traditional light bulbs with a high need of energy are slowy taken from the market by the EU governments, so the people start buying (supposedly engergy-saving) halogen lamps. The problem: Many people, including me, don't want to use halogen lamps for their homes, because their light has an inferior quality without a full light spectrum. They can exhaust the eyes very quickly or can deteriorate other body functions. Once I lost the ability to sharply focus objects with my eyes for several weeks after having spent up to 12 hours a day in the university in rooms without windows but with halogen light. Now there are some clever people who start importing traditional old lamps from non-EU countries and sell them not as lamps but as heating objects, only supposed to warm your room. And this is legal. Strange world we are living in.

However, things are a little different with food. This is more strictly regulated. If you want to really accurately follow the laws then you aren't even allowed to make a bread and give it as a present to your neighbour, because you don't officially have the license to make bread. Of course regulations are important, but a little more trust towards the average customer would be nice sometimes.
Therefore I like how it seems to be regulated at your area. This leads to a more social cooperation, using all the specific talents of individual persons in order to help each other.