Deli-Style Hard Rolls: a bit of crunch, a lot of chew

This blog has been focusing on buns a lot lately.  And I confess – I’m the culprit for the monotony (if you’re not a bun lover); or inspiration (if you are).

I happen to love buns. Fat, golden little loaves, one-serving wonders that baby your burger, harbor your hotdog, or simply serve as a base for melting butter.

And buns aren’t just for cookouts.

Imagine your favorite tarragon chicken salad on a soft, buttery bun. Stuff a bun with peanut butter, honey, and chunks of banana; or layer it with lunch meat to make a double-fisted Dagwood. Any and all sandwich fillings are just as tempting on a bun as between two slices of bread.

Trying to eat healthier, and add fiber to your diet? Try our 100% Whole Wheat Hotdog Buns. Deli Rye Rolls are perfect for one of my favorite sandwiches: liverwurst and onion; or think a fat Reuben. Harvest Grains Buns go especially well with cold cuts and cheese.

And when Thanksgiving rolls around again, don’t miss these Stuffing Buns: layered with leftover turkey and a touch of cranberry sauce, they’re the perfect Black Friday, on-the-go lunch.

Three weeks ago, we focused on Beautiful Burger Buns, golden-yellow egg and butter buns perfect for Memorial Day and the start of grilling season. Last week it was No-Knead Cheese Burger Buns, soft, tender buns scented with cheddar.

Today we’re following a slightly different path. These Deli-Style Hard Rolls are high-rising and light textured, chewier than the  typical soft roll, with a crunchy crust. They’re perfect for Sloppy Joes, pulled pork, and other moist/substantial fillings that might prove too much for a soft bun.

Place the following in a mixing bowl:

2 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
1/3 cup Hi-maize Fiber*
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon non-diastatic malt powder or sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or vegetable oil
3/4 cup lukewarm water

*No Hi-maize? We love the way it adds fiber to baked goods “invisibly;” but if it’s not in your pantry, substitute additional bread flour or all-purpose flour. Check the dough texture as you knead; it shouldn’t be “gnarly,” but rather should form a smooth ball. You may need to increase the water by a tablespoon, since flour is higher-protein than Hi-maize.

Mix until everything comes together.

Switch to the dough hook, and knead until the dough is smooth. This takes about 7 minutes at low-medium speed using a stand mixer.

You may also choose to use the dough cycle on your bread machine. Let the dough go all the way through the cycle, which will be through its first rise.

If you’ve kneaded the dough by hand or in a mixer, transfer it to a lightly greased bowl or other container, to rise.

I like to use an 8-cup measure – it gives me a quick visual as to the dough’s progress.

Cover the dough and let it rise until it’s noticeably puffy, about 1 hour. It should just about double in bulk.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into 6 pieces (about 3 1/4 ounces each).

Easiest way to do this? A scale.

So, 581g divided by 6 = …

97g, more or less.

Shape each piece of dough into a smooth ball.

Grease the wells of a hamburger bun pan, or lightly grease a baking sheet, or line with parchment.

Dip the top half of each roll into water…

…then into the seeds of your choice. I’m using sesame seeds here; golden flax seeds are equally pretty/tasty.

Place the rolls into the cups of the bun pan, or onto the baking sheet, spacing them evenly on the sheet and leaving a couple of inches between them.

Press gently to flatten.

The buns will shrink back a bit; see how they don’t quite cover the bottom of the pan? That’s OK; they’ll spread as they rise.

Xover the pan, and let the buns rise until they’re puffy, 30 to 40 minutes.

They won’t rise like crazy, but you don’t want them to. They’ll rise some more once they go into the oven, and you don’t want them TOO tall; these are sandwich buns, after all.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 400°F.

Bake the rolls until they’re a deep golden brown, 22 to 26 minutes.

Remove them from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.

So, why use a hamburger bun pan, instead of just a baking sheet?

The sides of the bun pan impart immediate heat, allowing the roll to rise its highest. In addition, the pan contains the roll, forcing it to rise up, rather than out.

So is a bun pan necessary? No, not at all. Does it make a difference? Yes.

If desired, just before serving, reheat the rolls in a 375°F oven for 5 minutes or so, to crisp.

As I mentioned earlier, these rolls are perfect for pulled pork and other substantial fillings, fillings that might lay waste to a softer, more delicate bun.

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Deli-Style Hard Rolls.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Constanze Neathery

    I follow your method on hard roll making,”, but used another recipe from KAF. I used the “Honey-Oat Pain de Mie” recipe, and the rolls turned out absolutely WONDERFUL! I used my Zo’ Bread Machine, on the Dough setting. When it finished the kneading cycle, I placed the dough in an glass 8 cup measuring cup lightly greased. I let it rise for 60 minutes or to doubled. After the rising time, I punched it down gently. Then I weighed the entire dough on my kitchen scale so that I could calculate the weight for 10 rolls. The dough weight was 858 g. divided by 10 = 85.8 g. for each roll. There was a small bit left over, so I added the left over dough to each dough roll. I formed each roll and placed them on a large sheet pan with parchment paper, sprayed the rolls with warm water and sprinkled oat flake on to them. Covered them lightly with a large plastic bread bag cut open and let them rise for 45 mins. Preheated the oven to 400 F. When the rolls had risen I placed the pan into the heated oven and did a quick spray of water into the oven and closed the door and baked the rolls for 26 min. When they were done, I turned off the oven, opened the oven door a jar with the rolls still inside for 15 min. Removed the roll from oven and placed them on a cooling rack. They came out nice and had a nice semi-crispy crust and a lovely crumb interior, Very Pleased! And no more store bought rolls in this house/home.
    Thanks ever so much for this wonderful blog on roll making,

  2. caitibee

    Omg these were so simple to make…didn’t take long at all, and turned out with such soft interiors and crusty tops…I made them to use with left over prime rib…and it was the first time I ever tried making buns…this recipe will be my always go to forever now..thank you !!!!!

  3. Chit

    Thank you PJ for this yummy hard roll recipe! I did it very well and am proud being an amateur home baker! So good with butter and cream cheese. I have a question though…if I want the crust harder and crunchier would adding another 5 to 10 minutes do it? What is a high gluten flour that will make this roll harder and chewier… Why do other recipes require spraying water? Thank you! Am so happy with this recipe!

    Chit from the Philippines

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Chit, spraying water on the rolls creates a type of steam, which will make the crust a bit shiny, and crisp. Before you try changing flour (which would involve amending the recipe to account for the flour’s higher protein content/higher gluten), try cooling the rolls in the oven, as follows: when they’re done, turn the oven off, crack open the door 3″-4″ or so, and let the rolls cool completely inside the cooling oven. This will make their crust crunchier/harder. Good luck – PJH

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