This roll was originally conceived in my sister’s kitchen in Denmark. She lives on a farm on the west coast about 15 minutes outside Esbjerg. The farm is no longer operating. There’s no livestock, except for 10 or so chickens, 4 barn cats, and the occasional flock of ducks that comes through the backyard. They have plenty of land though. About 5 – 6 acres, which includes a huge vegetable garden, orchard, and 3 greenhouses where she grows everything from rosemary to radishes, beets to blueberries, potatoes to pears, and everything in between. There’s not a vegetable, berry, or herb that doesn’t grow in my sister’s garden.
Some of my fondest memories come from visiting my sister. We’ll walk through the garden and eat berries straight off the bushes, fill a basket with greens for dinner, play cards on the patio while bees (from her beehives) buzz around nearby in the flowerbeds. But, my best memories may be from the breakfast table. I’ve always been a big fan of breakfast, and breakfast at my sister’s home beats everything. Fresh boiled eggs straight from the chicken coup, home-made jams, and best of all her freshly-baked whole wheat rolls.
After years of enjoying these rolls for breakfast at her home, I finally decided to snatch the recipe and share it with our readers. In Scandinavia, we call a solid whole wheat bread “farmer bread” (bondebrød), so since these rolls were conceived on my sister’s farm in Denmark, I decided to name them “Farmer Buns.”
2 oz (50g) fresh yeast
4 cups of milk
7 cups of whole wheat flour
3 eggs (2 for baking, 1 for glazing)
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp salt
1 cup rolled oats
1 1/5 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 cup honey (optional)
3-4 cups all purpose flour for consistency
Heat the milk until it’s lukewarm. Crumble the yeast into a bowl and add a little bit of the milk. Mix until the yeast has dissolved into the milk, then pour in the rest of the milk. Slightly beat the two eggs and add to the milk along with the honey (if you so choose). My sister’s rolls are originally made without any kind of sweetener, so you can easily leave the honey out without compromising taste.
In a second bowl, mix the dry ingredients (excluding the all purpose flour): whole wheat flour, salt, rolled oats, flaxseed meal and cardamom. Cardamom? You may say. But, isn’t that used for Indian cooking? Indeed it is, but unbeknownst to most, it is also a key ingredient in most Danish baked goods – it offers that sweet and intense nutty flavor.
Now add in your dry mixture with the liquid mixture and stir until you have a pasty dough. To get the dough to the right consistency, start adding in all purpose flour. When you can’t stir it any more, knead the bread while continuously adding flour until it easily separates from the table (or bowl). It takes about 4 cups, but use a little bit at the time. Cover and set aside to rise for 45 minutes.
Separate the dough into small rolls and place them on a baking sheet. Let them rise for another 10-15 minutes, then glaze with beaten egg, and bake in a pre-heated oven at 435F for 14 minutes.
This recipe makes about 30-40 rolls. They are highly suitable for freezing, so feel free to stash them in your freezer to reheat at a later time.
Hint: This recipe works very well for whole wheat baguettes or even a whole wheat boule. Just adjust time for baking. It takes about 20-25 minutes for a Farmer Boule to bake.