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Emily L and the Hardroll

April 9, 2019

Last night was a ton of fun. CH Evans at the Albany Pump Station hosted an incredible Official Yelp Event. I’ll tell you some of my own personal highlights from the evening soon. But for right now, I’m exhausted.

Thankfully, Emily L sent in a guest post that has inspired me to think a bit more about one of the ubiquitous staples of the Capital Region. So this morning, I’m going to hand the blog back over to her.

Hard to Avoid Hardrolls
By Emily L

Before I moved to New York, I had never heard of the “hardroll”. Now it seems I can’t escape it in delis, diners, and convenience stores in this area.

Hard rolls are also known as kaiser rolls or Vienna. After some extensive Wikipedia research, it seems they were created in Austria to honor the kaiser and are suppose to resemble a crown. A version of this with caraway seeds is also known as the kümmelweck roll. Given the heavy German influence in the area, it’s no surprise immigrants brought this type of bread and it has been adapted over the years.

Upstate New Yorkers love a good breakfast sandwich and hard rolls play a prominent roll (no pun intended) on most breakfast menus. Instead of the English muffins, the default bread of choice always is a hard roll. They are even so popular, Stewart’s sells hard rolls by themselves so you can make your own creation with them at home. Rockland Bakery delivers thousands of hard rolls to schools and restaurants every week. Beef on Weck sandwiches would not exist without this delightful carby treat.

How do I like my hard roll? Lightly toasted with a nice friend egg on top. There is something about the crunch of the pointed top mixed with the ooze from the fried egg.

Hardrolls were a mystery to me as well when I first moved to the area as well. The name never quite seemed to fit. As someone who is accustomed to bagels, and the thick sturdy crusts of hearth baked sourdough, our local hardrolls seemed surprisingly soft.

But after years and years of egg and cheese sandwiches on grilled hardrolls, I’m now a believer.

For those who have been eating them for decades around the Capital Region, I’m wondering if you have any favorite local sources for this ubiquitous bread. Prinzo’s seems to get all the love. Bella Napoli makes one too, but theirs seems especially soft. What else is out there? And what do you look for in a great hardroll?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. -R. permalink
    April 9, 2019 10:27 am

    The Cookie Factory in Troy makes a nice hard roll – not too soft internally, but with a nice bit of crunch to the crust. We mainly use them for burgers in the summer, and egg sandwiches year round.

  2. chrisck permalink
    April 9, 2019 10:39 am

    Downstater here. Was raised eating hard rolls. Can’t get a decent one in these parts, even if trucked up from Rockland County. The local products’ crust/crumb are either too soft or too dry. And Prinzo’s? You gotta be kidding. Tasteless.

  3. Just Me permalink
    April 9, 2019 12:08 pm

    If Prinzo’s bakery on Delaware Ave still exists, their hard rolls were the best I’ve ever had. Baked fresh daily and if you get there early enough they’re still warm.

  4. chrisck permalink
    April 9, 2019 12:48 pm

    Re: Prinzo’s. All they taste like to me is yeast. I think a lot of yeast goes into the dough to get a faster rise (bigger production) compared to a lower yeast, slower rise process that develops wheaten flavor.

  5. enough already! permalink
    April 9, 2019 7:30 pm

    Even bread alone’s “hard rolls” are not crusty, like the ones of my youth, downstate. Would love to find some up here.

  6. Pam Considine permalink
    April 10, 2019 12:01 am

    I don’t know who bakes them, but I like the hard rolls with poppy seeds on top. When I worked in downtown Troy we got delicious egg sandwiches on them from Famous Lunch, or even just the grilled hard roll slathered in butter. I imagine you still can!

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