Brötchen are THE essential part of a German breakfast, and this rustic version with sunflower seeds is my FAVORITE! Brötchen literally translates from German to 'little bread' or rolls or buns in the English language.
While many kinds of different Brotchen exist, these sunflower seed rolls are high up there on my list of favorite Brötchen! The soft interior and crisp crust studded with sunflower seeds are just irresistible. And then there is that dreamy bakery smell that sweeps through your entire house as these rolls crisp up in your oven. Heavenly!
Even Germans that go on vacation miss their Brötchen, 83 percent of them! Especially more whole grain version like this one because they are more difficult to find in other countries.
How to make them
This Brötchen dough uses a mixture of white wheat, semolina, and whole grain rye flours, that are combined with milk, water, and yeast. Last but not least, you add sunflower seeds at the very end. I briefly toast the seeds in a skillet, bringing out a perfect, nutty flavor.
After mixing the dough, it rests for 12 hours in the fridge overnight. Which is perfect for having these Brötchen ready for your German breakfast. They only require about 15 minutes of active work in the morning and one hour of rising time before baking.
To shape the rolls, you'll first divide them up. You'll flatten each dough piece to be a rectangle. Now you'll fold the top third of each dough piece over the middle and the bottom third up over the middle.
Press each Brötchen seam side down into sunflower rolls and let them rest seam side down on a baking sheet prepped with parchment or silicone baking mats. Cover with a clean linen towel and let them rest in a warm spot for one hour.
Now flip the rolls over, so the sunflowers show on the top and bake according to the recipe instructions below.
It's a must-try recipe for anyone who misses German bakery bread, especially Brötchen.
You only need a few ingredients to make these German rolls with sunflower seeds, and you may already have some of them at home.
- Sunflower seeds. I use raw sunflower seeds. I briefly toast them before adding them to the dough for extra nutty flavor. I leave the seeds raw when rolling the Brötchen in before the final rise. This way they don't burn in the oven.
- White wheat flour. I use all-purpose flour.
- Whole rye flour. You can also use whole wheat flour or spelt flour instead.
- Semolina flour. You could use whole-grain flour (wheat, spelt or rye) instead of semolina in this recipe.
- Oil. I use avocado oil, but any flavor-neutral oil will work well in this recipe.
- Yeast. I use active-dry yeast for my Brotchen and all of my baking recipes.
- Milk. I use whichever kind of milk we have on hand, which is usually 2 percent or whole. Dairy-free milk will work, too.
- Salt. Just a little bit of salt is used in these rolls and I use pink sea salt.
More Brötchen recipes
Then read about what else you will need to make your Frühstück (German breakfast) complete.
The first food I need to have in Germany
Whenever I go visit my family in Germany, I haven't fully arrived until I have taken a bite from a fresh Brotchen as part of a German breakfast or Frühstück.
So you can imagine that having come up with this Sonnenblumenkernbrötchen (sunflower seed roll) recipe is such a soothing recipe to have when I haven't been able to visit home in a while.
For those wondering, Döner Kebab is a super close second place that I have to have after arriving in Germany. And randomly I will have it before I have a Brötchen. I know. I also have a recipe for an authentic Döner that you MUST TRY.
Brötchen (German rolls with sunflower seeds)
- 235 g all-purpose wheat flour white wheat flour
- 100 g semolina flour can use whole wheat flour instead
- 55 g whole-grain rye flour can use whole wheat flour instead
- 150 g milk at about 40° C/104° F
- 8 g active-dry yeast
- 150 g water at about 5° C/41° F
- 8 g sea salt
- 8 g oil a flavor neutral oil like avocado oil, but olive oil works too
- 75 g sunflower seeds dry-roasted in skillet
- 50 g sunflower seeds raw, not roasted
- whole-grain flour wheat or rye, for shaping the rolls
- Combine yeast and barely warm milk and allow to sit and activate for 5 minutes. If it doesn't start to bubble up after 5 minutes, start over.
- Combine all ingredients for the dough, except for the sunflower seeds and knead for 10 minutes on the lowest setting.Then increase to a medium setting and knead 5 more minutes. The Brötchen dough should be smooth and elastic and pulling away from the sides.
- Put the dough in a bowl and cover air-tight. Move to the fridge and allow to proof for 12 hours (easiest to do this overnight). It should have doubled in size.
- Transfer the Brötchen dough onto a lightly floured surface, shape into an even log trying to work the dough as little as possible to retain the air bubbles. Then divide it into 8 equal pieces of dough.
- Working with one dough piece at a time, pull the dough, so it's elongated. Take one of the short thirds, and fold it over itself, pressing down with all fingertips, and repeat folding the other third over itself. Lightly press down on the seam.Be careful not to allow too many of the natural gases to leak out of the dough while you're shaping the rolls. This allows for the crumb to have bigger pores.
- Pour the sunflower seeds for the toppings in a bowl and press the seam side of the rolls into the seeds, so that they stick to the dough, then transfer the rolls, seam down, onto a baking sheet prepped with parchment paper or silicone baking mate.Cover loosely with a clean linen towel and allow to rise for 1 hour in a warm spot in your house.
- In the meantime while the Brötchen are rising, preheat the oven to 230° C/445° F and put a large pan filled with warm water on the bottom rack of your oven. This will create steam as the oven heats up.
- Turn the rolls over (seam up), spray or sprinkle them with a bit of water, and bake for 10 minutes (total baking time will be 20 minutes), leaving the pan filled with water in the oven.After 10 minutes, widely open the oven door for a few seconds to allow the steam to escape, then close the oven door, and bake for another 5 minutes, leaving the pan with water in the oven.For the last 5 minutes of baking, leave the oven door open at a gap OR remove the pan with water. This will ensure a browned, crisp surface. Enjoy the amazing scents.
- Transfer your cute little Brötchen a cooling rack and leave uncovered until cooled completely. Enjoy for a German Frühstück.