The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Hard Rolls

dablues's picture

Hard Rolls

When I lived in Upstate NY I used to buy hard rolls that had a crust that shattered and the inside was nice and soft.  Covered with poppy seeds.  Toasted they were to die for.  I tried every recipe going and could not find the right recipe.  I was told it was the water.  I don't believe that.  The crust was very thin when baked.  The last time I went to my hometown, which was Albany, NY and ordered my hard roll, what I got was nothing like I used to get.  I asked the waitress this isn't the hard rolls I was used to getting and she said they couldn't get them anymore.  Kind of hard to believe but who was I to say anything.  I would imagine they are still being baked in a bakery probably somewhere in NYC but not sure because I didn't know where they bought there rolls.  You could go into any eatery and get the same rolls but no longer.  No, longer.  I haven't been back to my hometown in about 8 years since hubby won't travel that far anymore.  So does anyone have a recipe that I can get a very thin crust, and hard on the outside but soft on the inside.  Also these rolls were larger than what you get now.  Maybe 4 to 5 inches.  Don't know since I never measured them but they were big.

Dannabis's picture

Hard Rolls are or were a NJ NY east coast tristate specialty.

True hard rolls have been hard to find for a decade.

It seems the recipe/techniques have been lost or have fallen out of popular baking.


Nothing compares to a true hard roll.


I will post back if I figure out how to make them right or get more info on it. Been looking for hard rolls for a looooong time.

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Read though the post to find Norm Bergs formula! Alas, his shaping video no longer available. Fear not plenty for Keiser roll videos on YouTube.

dablues's picture

You are correct!  That's what New Yorkers called them, anyway upstate NY did, and it figures NJ would know what I mean.  In NY they were called Hard Rolls and it was the crust that made them so great.  I looked for a long time, gave it up, made all kinds of rolls from different recipes but nothing comes close to those!

bonnibakes's picture

kimmelweck rolls or weck rolls. Instead of poppy or sesame seed on top they're sprinkled with caraway and coarse salt.

dablues's picture

Have you made them?  Do you have a link for a recipe.  I know I can google but am looking for someone who has a tried and true recipe of what I am looking for especially the thin crust that shatters when bitten into.

bigcrusty's picture

Dear dablues,

I grew up in Queens and my job on Sundays after church was to get the Kaiser rolls and a loaf of Sour Rye from our local bakery. They were to die for crusty outside and super soft inside.  I've been all over the country and out during my career and unfortunately, wound up in places that for the most part made "bread rolls"  (soft mushy things like Wonder Bread).  When I retired 10 years ago I was determined that the days of commercial bread were over and after a long search came across George Greensteins "Secrets of a Jewish Baker".  It had this recipe for Kaiser Rolls which I adapted.  When I bake I usually bake 4 loaves at a time so I show 1X, 2X and 4X times the basic recipe.  I've  shown the volumetric basic 1X and a metric which is what I use for my ingredient measuring.  Greenstein's method for shaping eluded me but a found a good video a gal did on You Tube.  Her son was the cameraperson and did a pretty good job.  Her shaping technique for Kaiser Rolls was simple to follow.  The taste was like I was timewarped back to Queens.  Friends and family love them.  Here's the recipe.

Kaiser Rolls   
  gms (454 gms = 1 lb.)gms (454 gms = 1 lb.)gms (454 gms = 1 lb.)gms (454 gms = 1 lb.)   
Warm Water1/4 Cup591181772361  
Yeast1.5 TBSP16.53349.5662  
Cold Water3/4 Cup1773545317083  
Eggs (Large)224684  
Vegetable Oil2 TBSP2856841125  
Malt Syrup2 TBSP42841261686  
Sucanat or Sugar2 TBSP204060807  
Bread Flour3.5 - 4 Cups479.59591438.519188  
Salt2 1/4 TSP15.7531.547.2563   
Sprinkle the yeast over warm water, stir to dissolve, add the cold water                                                                                                            , eggs, oil, malt syrup, sugar, flour and salt  
Stir the dough until it comes away from the sides of the bowl, adding more flour if necessary   
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work top.  Knead vigorously adding more flour in small  amounts if the dough is sticky.  This should be a stiff dough.  Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic and the gluten in fully developed (12-15 minutes)   
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn to coat.  Cover and allow to rise for 30 minutes.  Punch down and allow to rise once more until doubled in volume (20-30 minutes)   
Punch down the dough again, divide into 3 pieces, cover and let stand for 15 minutes.Roll out into ropes.  Cut into 6 equal pieces from each rope.     
To seed rolls brush the dough pieces with water and arrange rolls with tops down on a pan with seeds.
Shape rolls according to the attached diagram

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Add 1 quart of boiling water to a roasting pan in the bottom of the ovenLightly  grease a baking sheet(or use parchment paper) and carefully move rolls onto sheet right side up.  Place rolls in the oven bake 15-20 minutes depending upon how brown you want them.   (Brushing rollswith a malt syrup & corn starch solution will give them a golden brown color)

If you have any issues with the recipe feel free to post again.  Hope is works for you like it did for me.




Big Crusty

justkeepswimming's picture

My family lived in NJ when I was young (early 60's). My mom always had hard rolls and a variety of fantastic deli meats on hand. After we relocated to New England, she couldn't find anything remotely close. Any time family or friends would come from NJ for a visit, they were tasked with going to the deli the morning they left. They brought fresh hard rolls, a whole hard salami, half of a lebanon bologna, and a variety of other delicacies. Those rolls were gobbled up within 24 hours of arrival, in part because they didn't stay fresh long. People in NE would try to convince her that "these are hard rolls" but no, not even close. Only people who have had the real deal understand what they are supposed to be like. You are absolutely right about the crusty outside and soft inside. 

Thank you so much for this recipe. I just bookmarked it, and will give it a try in the future. Hopefully I can make something close to my fond memories. 


lawrence1l's picture

Sometimes things just disappear from the market.  I bought Kaiser rolls at a local IGA for years.  I am sure they baked them 'in house'.  They made the most wonderful hamburger buns.  I think it was about 20 yr. ago, they just were no longer there.  To my discredit, I didn't ask what the story was. 

I used to buy some things called 'raisin buns' from a local bakery in Lansing, MI.--Paul's Pastry, by name.  They were a baked cinnamon roll.  The crew in the lab loved them.  It was always a special occasion when they were brought in.  Then, one day, Paul was gone, and his two adult children, who had been his apprentices, decided they didn't want to be in the bakery business, and Paul's Pastry, and all the wonderful things made there, became another casualty of the passage of time, and the informational age. 

dablues's picture

for NYS hard rolls and NONE come close to what I used to be able to get, so I gave up.  What I made from all the recipes I tried was good but not like what I was used to.  So No luck and I don't look anymore

Gerri's picture

Best recipe I found is Peter Reinhart's Kaiser Rolls.  The Bread Baker's Apprentice is the recipe book I use.

dablues's picture

I have that book.  I tried all kinds of recipes from that book, other books, etc., and NOTHING is like the NY Hard Rolls I grew up with.  None compete!