Oma's Traditional Brötchen – German Bread Rolls Recipe

This simple Brötchen recipe (Brötchen is the German word for little bread) is very reminiscent of the German bread rolls from Germany. It’s claimed that there are over a thousand different varieties of these little German breads throughout the different regions of Germany. They are all known for being WUNDERBAR!

The one I’m featuring here has an incredible crust, yet is moist and chewy inside. Since I like easy, I use my bread maker to make quick work of preparing the dough, but you can also prepare the dough using the spiral dough hooks of your electric mixer (See NOTES/HINTS below). The secret for the crispy crust? Egg whites and ice cubes!

Prep Time

3 hours

Bake Time

20 minutes

Total Time

3 hr 20 min


Makes 12


For the dough:

  • 1¼ cups (300 milliliters) lukewarm water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon (6 grams) salt
  • 1½ teaspoon (6 grams) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (14 grams) soft butter (room temperature)
  • 3½ cups (455 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra if needed
  • 1 tablespoon (10 grams) instant yeast

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg white 
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) milk

For baking:

  • 1 cup (about 150 grams) ice cubes


  1. Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. Put all bread dough ingredients, starting with 3½ cups of the flour, into the bread machine pan. (Follow manufacturer's recommended order.)
  3. Set the bread machine to the DOUGH setting. This will take about 1½ hours.
  4. NOTE: After the first few minutes, check that the dough isn't sticking to the sides and has formed a ball. If the dough is sticking, add a tablespoon of flour and let it knead; gradually add more if needed. The dough will be tacky, but should come together without sticking to the pan. See the IMPORTANT note above the recipe.
  5. When dough is ready, remove it from the bread machine.
  6. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and gently fold it several times. The dough will be very soft. If it’s too sticky, dust with a little more flour.
  7. Form into a roll, about 12 to 16 inches long, and then cut into 12 equal parts.
  8. Form each piece into a smooth ball by placing it into one hand. With the other fingers, pull up the outside edges and pinch into the middle several times, dusting fingers with flour if needed.
  9. Place each of the small balls, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  10. Fifteen minutes before baking, set oven temperature to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C). Place an empty baking tray on the bottom rack.
  11. When oven is hot, gently brush rolls with egg wash (mix 1 egg white with 2 tablespoons milk). Cut a fairly deep slash in top of each roll with very sharp knife or lame blade.
  12. Place rolls on the middle rack of the preheated oven and immediately place 1 cup of ice cubes on the hot baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven.
  13. Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully open oven door slightly to let any steam escape. Close the door and continue baking for another 3 to 5 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
  14. Remove to a wire rack and let cool for about ½ hour before serving.

Notes/Hints for Making Without Bread Machine:

  • If you don’t have a bread machine, you can make this bread rolls recipe with your mixer instead. When making yeast doughs, ingredients are usually added in a certain order. Since ingredients are added all at once to a bread machine, I mimic what the machine does and do the following:
  • Using my mixer with a dough hook, I put all the ingredients into the large mixing bowl, starting with the 3½ cups flour. Turn it on low for 2 minutes and then onto medium speed to knead for another 5 to 10 minutes until it no longer sticks to the side of the bowl and forms a ball.
  • Make sure the dough isn’t too sticky. If it is, add one tablespoon of flour at a time. The dough should be a bit tacky. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise about 1 hour or until it has about doubled in size.
  • Continue with the above recipe from where the dough is removed from the bread machine.

More Notes/Hints :

  • The amount of flour depends on things like the brand, humidity, altitude, etc. Whenever I use the bread machine for any baking or dough-making, I always check the dough after the first few minutes of kneading to see if extra flour is needed. Sometimes it’s needed, but other times not.
  • If desired, sprinkle the rolls with oats or seeds (such as poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or sunflower seeds) right after you brush them with the egg wash.
  • If you’re adventuresome, you can add a bit of diastatic malt powder. Don’t add more than 1 teaspoon though. This powder is considered the secret ingredient to promote a strong rise, great texture, and a lovely brown crust. However, if you add too much, things can get very sticky very quickly.
  • Another bread maker recipe? Try this rye bread recipe!

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* 03.14.2022 revision update