A bread roll is generally a small, doughy piece of bread often used as a side dish, but may also be used to make sandwiches. There are numerous varieties of bread rolls available that can be eaten with just about any type of meal. For instance, sweet rolls and rolls filled with ingredients like sausage or egg can be made for breakfast, sourdough brotchen pairs well with German cuisine, while a savory barm cake can be filled with traditional English fare.
Bread rolls have a surprisingly long history, having been found in the tombs of ancient Egyptians. Their popularity has grown over time, and they can now be found as a popular side dish and food staple throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe, especially in Germany and Austria. There are many names that can be used to describe a bread roll, and at one point, each name was meant to explain what the bread roll was made of and how it was baked. Today, these names are often used interchangeably, and generally refer to any similar roll-like bread.
Throughout Europe, bread rolls have become a very popular side dish and sandwich staple. The bap bread roll, for instance, can mostly be found in Ireland and Scotland. These rolls are large and made with butter or lard to make the dough tender. In some regions they are savory, while in others, they may be made sweeter with the addition of currants. Buttery and blaa rolls may also be found in areas of Ireland and Scotland.
In England and the United States, the bread roll has taken on many forms. Teacakes are flat, round rolls that can be found in Yorkshire, while large, soft batch rolls may be purchased in Shropshire. Kaiser roll-like Kummelwecks are a regional favorite of Upstate New Yorkers, while bulkie rolls are often used for sandwiches in New England.
Though not as common in other locations, bread rolls have made their way into the cuisine of India, Canada, and the Philippines. In India, rolls are sometimes sweetened with cardamom and sugar or made savory with the use of potatoes or spices. Cob and potato rolls are popular in Canada, while pan de sal — or salted bread — is a favorite choice in the Philippines. Pan de sal is generally considered a breakfast bread that is actually sweeter than its name implies.