The search for Hard Rolls, Milwaukee Style

Milwaukee hard rolls were something that was taken for granted growing up. These large, light rolls, with their dry, hard, crusty, flaking top, and ever-so-slightly tangy, soft, airy center were ever present.

They were there for “hot ham and rolls” after church, and especially Easter morning. They were stuffed with grilled Milwaukee brats (white bratwurst) at Brewer’s baseball games or brought to tailgate at County Stadium before we cheered on “the Pack.”  I ignored them, they were always there.

Funny, I kind of treated the Lake Michigan shoreline the same way, just expecting it to be there. And like Lake Michigan, I always thought these rolls always would be easily found. I never realized how very special these hard rolls were until years later when I moved away and lived in other cities.

Now every city has its charm, its special dish.  But I miss those dang hard rolls (almost as much as I miss Lake Michigan). And living in the Twin Cities, there just is not any roll that compares. So, to find them, I just had to learn how to make them.

Here, in separate posts, are two recipes for those now, not-so-elusive Hard Rolls.

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Hard Rolls, Milwaukee Style #1

photo 5The first Milwaukee Hard Rolls recipe is exactly as we remember! It has that great dry crusty top and the cornmeal bottoms we love, and comes from Gordon King a Milwaukee baker who ran Wilbert’s baker, which closed back in 1993. Note: It requires high protein bread flour and a little more yeast.  And, while the directions make the tops of these rolls plain, feel free to top rolls with sesame seeds or poppy seeds.

An article, with his recipe for hard rolls appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and is preserved here: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1298&dat=20050511&id=VS4zAAAAIBAJ&sjid=dggGAAAAIBAJ&pg=6793,3364570

Wilbert’s Bakery/Gordon and Barbara King’s Authentic German Hard Rolls
Makes about 2 dozen rolls
Sponge: 3 tbsp. active dry yeast (4 packets)
2 3/4 c. lukewarm water
3 tbsp. sugar

Dough: Continue reading

Hard Rolls, Milwaukee Style #2

The second Milwaukee Hard Rolls has the precise inside we remember. Light and airy, yet with a “chew”, and that very, very slight, sour taste we remember. And this recipe uses hardly any yeast.

photo 1

This is a terrific roll, yet the crust that isn’t quite right. Do not remember the split top, but it is hard and stays hard. But not as flaky.  Perhaps it is the egg wash. Also, the recipe directions result in rolls that are smaller than traditional Milwaukee Hard Rolls. So, if one wants the traditional Milwaukee Hard Roll, just double the size of the roll to make 8-10 rolls instead of 12, and replace the egg white wash with the a starch wash, as in the previous recipe. Make it plain, as directed, or add sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Oh, and be sure to use high protein bread flour!

Anyway, the recipe is the Crusty European-Style Hard Rolls, with great instruction and pictures from PJ Hamel and King Arthur flour on the post “Flourish” at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2011/03/08/they-once-were-lost-but-now-theyre-found-crusty-hard-rolls/.  Here it is, repeated, but please visit her page, as she take you step by step, with pictures!

Crusty European-Style Hard Rolls
Makes 12 small rolls.

Starter
½ c. cool water
1 c. King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/8 tsp. instant yeast
dough
all of the starter
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Crusty Rolls, Milwaukee Style #3

These rolls come from the 1955 Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book and turn out great! The recipe calls for “enriched flour” and shortening, but I slightly revised the recipe, using high protein bread flour, Dakota Bread Flour and lard instead of shortening. I added the salt last so that it did not prohibit the yeast, and slightly shortened the rise time. Oh, and I made only 8-10 rolls instead of a dozen or more.

That seems to be the difference, and the key to producing rolls that look like they come from a bakery. Please note below, this can be altered to make crusty rye rolls, too!

1955 Woman’s Home Companion Crusty Rolls, slightly revised
1 c. water, boiling
2 tbsp. lard
1 tbsp. sugar
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Extra-Dark Chocolate Pound Cake, by Pernigotti Cocoa for Williams Sonoma

A little dark chocolate cake for St. Valentine’s Day!

photo 3-2

Perignotti is an unsweetened, vanilla-flavored, extra-dark cocoa that is Dutch processed, but made in Italy, exclusively sold by Williams-Sonoma. This recipe was published in a Williams-Sonoma catalogue in the 1990s.

While Perignotti is, of course, preferred, this dark pound cake can also be made using another cocoa, such as Hersey’s Special Dark Cocoa, by adding a little more vanilla.

Extra-Dark Chocolate Pound Cake
1½ c. sifted flour
½ c. sifted dark cocoa
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Bernice Zurawski’s Bread

Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 1.27.54 PM Here is my Polish grandmother’s signature bread, and no one in the family, no one, had the recipe. She was an elegant lady who also was a fabulous cook, including dishes such as tender venison steak and walnut-stuffed turkey.  But she made this always round, hard crust bread almost daily, sometimes adding raisins and topping with sugar. This bread was treasured, especially at my mother’s swanky Christmas parties. And, one summer, a grandson entered her bread at the Wisconsin State Fair, where it promptly won a blue ribbon.

My grandmother never used a recipe for her bread, of course, and would gently laugh while raising her shoulders when we asked how to make it. But we could watch.

This “close-as-we-can-get” recipe comes through my uncle and aunt. He was the second youngest of her nine children, and saw her make bread countless times. I’m so grateful, for as I follow it, grandma comes to life, there in her small kitchen, brewing strong black coffee as she scalds the milk with butter and sugar, then softens yeast for her bread.  Then she stops, turns, and in her wonderful Polish accent, asks me to “wait a minute,” as she pulls ginger cookies down from the pantry for me before turning back to her bread.

Bernice Zurawski’s Bread
Ingredients
½ lb. butter, and more to generously grease the bread rising bowl and bread pan
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George Pandle’s Bayside Inn Tuna Salad

This salad comes from a famous family-run German restaurant, Pandl’s Restaurant in Bayside. Pandl’s Bayside had been a fixture on Milwaukee’s North Shore since 1968 until it closed in 2009. But the family restaurant history is much longer than that. The first restaurant, Whitefish Bay restaurant was opened in 1915 by Anna and John Pandl and unmistakable. It was passed on to their sons, George and Jack, and now to Jack’s son, John.  George’s sons, Jim and Jerry, owned three restaurants, including Eagan’s on Water, which has also closed and the Waterfront Deli, also on Water St. in Milwaukee.

The Frugal Girl Potato Bread

The Frugal Girl taught me how to make the absolute best potato bread; My kids devour it like candy!  It is reprinted here for you.  But, please, go to the site at http://www.thefrugalgirl.com/2010/10/wednesday-baking-potato-bread/ where there are beautiful step by step pictures and directions.

The Frugal Girl Potato Bread
Makes 2 loaves

1½ c. warm water (can use potato cooking water)
2 pkgs. active dry yeast (2¼ tsp. each)
1 c. mashed potato, made with fresh potato or with instant potatoes
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Original 1930s Girl Scout Trefoil Cookies, Omar Baking Company

This is the authentic recipe for the original 1930s trefoils sold by the Girl Scouts.  It is also the recipe used by the old Omar Baking Co. in Milwaukee, which was one of the first commercial suppliers of Girl Scout cookies. The recipe appeared in the Milwaukee Journal in 1993.

Omar Baking Co. Girl Scout Cookies
Ingredients:
1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
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Old Milwaukee Rye Bread, 1965 blue-ribbon recipe

This lighter Milwaukee rye bread took the blue ribbon in 1965 at the 118th Ozaukee County, Wisconsin Fair. Ozaukee County stretches a length along Lake Michigan, from Mequon to Port Washington.  At that time it was very much rural farming area, that even boasted a few hexagon-shaped barns. Port Washington was a strong Great Lake fishing hub, and its southern reaches, towns like Mequon and Thiensville, were just transitioning into suburbs.

The rye bread recipe calls for a 2-3 day development of “the SOUR,” uses soft lard and the

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Dark Rye Bread (SCHWARZBROT)

In Milwaukee, Rye Bread is a luscious dark, almost black bread and is fabulous. No other bread can be served along a hearty borscht or top corn beef, sauerkraut and swiss cheese! This recipe comes from Austria and was published by Citidel Press in 1965 in William I. Kaufman’s The Catholic Cook Book, Traditional Feast and Fast Days.  This Dark Rye was prepared for days of fast, in Lent.

Dark Rye Bread
1 loaf

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Lemony Crisps, by Pillsbury

These cookies are absolutely stand-out, look like they came from a bakery and will pass the test at cocktail parties. And, while most recipes posted here start from scratch, this is THE exception.  It comes from the side of a Pillsbury Moist Supreme Lemon Cake Mix box, and is made in easy moments. I do not even frost these cookies!

If made for kids lunches, you’ll need a half-hour in the morning. (But wrap in brown paper, or cool before wrapping in plastic.) When I pack these for my boys, their friends ask if they can be adopted!

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