Soft Buttery Rolls a.k.a. German Hörnchen

Oct 7, 2020 | Breakfast, Sides & Snacks


These buttery rolls may be shaped like croissants, but their flavor and texture more closely resemble a Parker House roll. They’re mildly sweet, and perfectly fluffy. I enjoy eating these rolls whenever I visit Germany, where they are incredibly popular. Alas, you can’t find them here at your local bakery. So, you’ll have to make them yourself. But the good news is, they’re quite simple to make. In this recipe, I’ve made two versions. One, is the classic German style, topped with poppyseeds. I suggest serving these with a nice jam. You can also use this version for sandwiches. They’re great with egg salad! The other version, which Talya prefers, is stuffed with Nutella and topped with pearl sugar. Pearl sugar has a very high melting point and maintains its pristine form even when baked in a 400F oven. You can purchase pearl sugar online, here.

This recipe is perfect for weekend breakfast. Leftovers are great for sandwiches and French toast. This recipe also seemed like the perfect way to make our own little “bun in the oven” announcement. We are expecting a new addition to our family in about six weeks! As you can see from the photo below, Talya is very excited to become a big sister. As for me, I’m just looking forward to not getting kicked in the stomach every night.

 In the meantime, I’m just enjoying having the time to bake. I suspect I might be a bit too occupied to make hörnchen, or anything else, in the next few months!


Makes 10-12

1 teaspoon (3 grams) active-dry yeast

1 teaspoon (3 grams) salt

3 tablespoons (50 grams) sugar

3 ½ tablespoons (50 grams) unsalted butter

¾ cup (220ml) whole milk

1 large egg, room temp

4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tablespoons poppyseeds

3 tablespoons pearl sugar

2-3 tablespoons Nutella

1 egg yolk, for glazing


Melt the butter in a small pot. Add the milk. Make sure the mixture is warm but NOT hot. Whisk in the sugar, salt, and yeast. Set aside.

Meanwhile, measure the flour and place it in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.

Whisk the whole egg into the yeast and milk mixture. Pour it into the bowl with the flour and mix on low speed until a shaggy dough has formed. Increase the speed to medium-high and knead the dough for 8-10 minutes. The dough is done when you can take a small ball and stretch it without the dough tearing. At this point it should be soft and elastic, but not sticky.

Grease the bowl, cover, and allow the dough to proof for 1-2 hours in a warm environment.

Fat inhibits yeast growth. So, don’t be alarmed if after the proofing time your dough has not doubled in size. This is normal.

Portion the dough into 3 ounce (85 gram) balls. Cover the balls with a damp dish towel. Roll the balls, one at a time, into a rough triangle about 8 inches long.

Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, trim away the edges of the dough to form a triangle. Save the scraps, and by the end you should have enough for two additional rolls.
To make the poppyseed hörnchen, roll the triangles, starting with the wider part of the triangle, rolling down to the tip. Curve into a crescent shape and place on a sheet pan topped with greased parchment paper. To make the Nutella stuffed hörnchen, place a heaping ½ teaspoon of Nutella at the top, wider part, of the triangle. Roll up and curve into a crescent shape. Transfer to a sheet pan.
Once all of the balls have been rolled and shaped, cover with a damp dishcloth and proof in a warm environment for an additional 45-60 minutes, or, until the dough is soft and puffy. Menawhile, preheat the oven to 400F (204C).

Brush the egg yolk on top of the rolls, using a pastry brush. Sprinkle the poppyseeds on top of the plain hörnchen and the pearl sugar on top of the Nutella stuffed hörnchen.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow them to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Store leftovers at room temp for up to 2 days. I suggest warming leftovers in the microwave for 15 seconds before serving.

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