There’s nothing like a classic German brotchen to warm your heart.
When I was a little girl, I used to periodically go spend time at my grandparents’ for weekends. I have such great memories from those little vacations in southern Wisconsin.
First, my grandfather would tell his stories about “Little Ollie.” Little Ollie was a character my grandfather made up and he would come up with all sorts of crazy adventures and tales about him. I can’t remember the stories any more, but I do remember being enthralled by them. I just loved listening to Grandpa tell stories – whether they were of little Ollie, or from his youth. Some times on those stays in Lake Geneva, I would accompany my grandpa to go searching for lost golf balls. Grandpa was an avid golfer – even had a practice green built in his front yard – and we would walk around the perimeter fence searching for all of those balls that golfers had sliced right off the fairway. Grandpa would take all of those treasured balls and sell them to the golf course, which they used as shag balls.
Something else that happened now and again, was a trip to the A&W where Grandpa would treat me to a root beer float. Those floats always tasted so much better than the ones made at home in the Tupperware glasses.
And another thing that I could always count on when I went to Grandma & Grandpa’s was there would always be a bag of “hard rolls” for me to devour. There in Lake Geneva there was a traditional German bakery and they of course sold the German staple – brotchen. I called them hard rolls as a kid because they had a nice chew to them. I remember many a morning grabbing one of those rolls, cutting a hole in it with a knife, and then cramming a ton of butter down inside. I would just sit there watching the Bozo show and munching away. Or I might run out the door with a roll in one hand and my make shift bow & arrow in the other. Grandma & Grandpa always let me be about as adventurous as I wanted to be. And Grandma Dahl? Well, she had the patience of a saint. One year I discovered my uncle’s trumpet, and buddy I ran around the house blowing that thing as hard as I could, for hours!
One of my greatest memories with Grandma though, was sitting beside her on the piano bench while she played – and she could play well. She had both an organ and a piano. She would let me plunk away on those things all day long too – and that I did. The great thing about the piano though, was that it was a player piano. You opened a little door on the bottom and pedals came out. On top, there were doors as well, and inside you placed different scrolls. The scroll would roll on the dowels and as you pedaled, the piano would begin to play which ever song’s scrolls you had placed in there. It was so much fun, and man did I burn a gazillion calories doing that! Grandma knew what she was doing there.
I miss Grandma & Grandpa dearly – they’re both gone – have been for years. This is one of my favorite photos of them. It was Christmas 1994 and they gave Jennifer a set of play dishes. She played with them throughout her childhood.
When we moved to Germany, I again was able to enjoy brotchen – and boy was I ever! You can even buy brotchen with little bratwurst or bacon and cheese baked right inside of them! I was in heaven. Any time I have brotchen, I am reminded of Grandma & Grandpa Dahl though. Since the Sunday Supper team is honoring Grandparents for Grandparents Day today I thought that brotchen would be the perfect recipe to share.
But first, I can’t go on to the recipe without sharing a photo of my other pair of grandparents – Grandma & Poppy Engels. “Grandma E” had the best kitchen, and some day when we buy our own house, I will have a black & white checkered tile floor just like the one she had in her kitchen.
On to the brotchen…
To begin, in a mixing bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon of fine salt. Stir them together and make a well in the center.
In a small dish, stir together 2 tablespoons of warm water, 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast and a teaspoon of sugar.
Pour the mixture into the well in your flour, but to not mix it in. Cover the bowl with a cloth and let it sit in a warm place for 15 minutes.
When you yeast has proofed, it will be bubbly.
Pour in 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of warm water.
Add in a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. Stir this all together to combine.
Turn your dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 8 – 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add flour as needed to keep from sticking while you knead.
Place the kneaded dough into a lightly oiled bowl, and turn the dough over to coat it. Cover the bowl with a clothe and let it rise in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.
Punch the dough down and divide it into 12 pieces. Form those portions into balls and place them on a greased & floured baking sheet, or one lined with a silpat.
Let the rolls rise, covered in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. In a small dish, whisk together one egg white and a teaspoon of water until frothy.
Brush the egg wash onto the rolls. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden.
- 2 1/2 - 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 2 1/2 tsp yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 c warm water, divided
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 egg white
- 1 tsp water
- To begin, in a mixing bowl, combine the all-purpose flour and salt. Stir them together and make a well in the center.
- In a small dish, stir together 2 tablespoons of warm water, the yeast and sugar.
- Pour the mixture into the well in your flour, but to not mix it in. Cover the bowl with a cloth and let it sit in a warm place for 15 minutes.
- When you yeast has proofed, it will be bubbly.
- Pour in 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of warm water.
- Add in the extra virgin olive oil. Stir this all together to combine.
- Turn your dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 8 – 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add flour as needed to keep from sticking while you knead.
- Place the kneaded dough into a lightly oiled bowl, and turn the dough over to coat it. Cover the bowl with a clothe and let it rise in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.
- Punch the dough down and divide it into 12 pieces. Form those portions into balls and place them on a greased & floured baking sheet, or one lined with a silpat.
- Let the rolls rise, covered in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. In a small dish, whisk together the egg white and a teaspoon of water until frothy.
- Brush the egg wash onto the rolls. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 293Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 201mgCarbohydrates: 60gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 9g
This data was estimated and provided by Nutritionix. Accuracy not guaranteed.
13 thoughts on “Homemade Brotchen & Stories from my Grandpa”
My mom’s parents summered in Lake Geneva and most of my memories of them are from summer vacations at the lake. I’m so glad my parents purchased that home and now my son can have the same experiences at Busia’s. <3
Your rolls looks perfectly fluffy.
Thank you Lauren! Lots of good memories there!
I love your memories of your Grandparents. My Mother is German and I remember eating rolls like this on my trips to see my family. When I was young, I used to poke my finger in the soft part of the roll and pull out all of the insides and slather it was butter.
Well I haven’t tried this dish before, but I sure know the pure joy of enjoying a grandmother’s baked goods. Thanks for sharing.
What a great experience it must have been at your grandma’s. My granddaughter could relate, she ran around with bagels all the time!
What wonderful memories you have Grandfather! These rolls look AMAZING!
what a lovely post full of sweet memories! These rolls look like something my family would really enjoy!
What wonderful memories! Your rolls look perfect!
What wonderful memories of your grandparents! Sounds like you were blessed with a great childhood and a loving family :) I love the golf story about the front yard! I must try these beautiful rolls soon!
I’d love to stuff one of your great rolls full of butter and watch Bozo too, Constance! Your grandparents sound like the best!
I love the memories of your grandpa. And now I know why my 100% German dad loved “hard rolls” so much–they must have been a regular item on his dinner table growing up. And now I can make him some thanks to you :)
What wonderful memories of your grandparents and delicious Brotchen! Pass the butter!
Thanks so much for sharing your memories and this fantastic recipe. It is very funny how life works, things that bothered the heck out of you when your kids were young, like blowing a trumpet, don’t bother you at all when you are a grandma.