Bierocks fresh from the oven

Whole Wheat Bierocks with Cheese

Authentic German BierocksIf you’ve never had a bierock (also known as cabbage rolls), you are really missing a treat.  This authentic german bierock recipe using ground beef comes from Ellis, Kansas, center of the Volga-Deutsch settlements that sprung up all over Kansas and Nebraska in the 1870s.  It’s a soft, slightly sweet bread roll, filled with ground beef (or sausage, or whatever you have), onion and cabbage or sauerkraut.  You can also add cheese, as I have.  In fact, you can pretty much add whatever you want – this is the kind of meal a family would prepare out of anything they had on hand.  The only must-haves are the cabbage and sweet dough.

You can find easy bierock recipes on the internet that call for frozen bread dough, or canned crescent roll dough.  Don’t fool yourself: Those are poor imitations of the real thing.  And frankly, with all the thawing and rolling and messing with super-sticky frozen dough, you’re better off just making your own dough the way you like it.

If you’re planning on adding cheese, I recommend using something that will melt well, without separating into fat and protein.  You may love the flavor of an aged cheese, but the older a cheese is, the more likely you’re going to get separation and a big oil slick on your baking sheet.  I tend to stick with good, young  monterey jack or colby cheese – but try a gruyere or provolone sometime!

Whole Wheat Bierocks with Cheese

  • 4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (2 packs)
  • 3/4 cup sugar, plus 1 Tbl for yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110F)
  • 1 Tbl salt
  • 2 cups warm milk
  • 8 cups of flour (I used 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 unbleached organic all-purpose flour)
  • 8 Tbl melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 lbs ground beef (I used 1 lb beef and 1 lb spicy sausage)
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 lbs of cabbage (about 1/2 a large head)
  • 2 cups grated cheese, your choice (I used a peppered monterey jack this time)
  • Salt and pepper (I used 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.)
  • Caraway seeds (the original calls for 1 Tbl, but I only use 1 tsp in mine.)

In a small bowl, combine yeast and 1 Tbl sugar.  Whisk in 1 cup warm water.  In another bowl, combine salt, warm milk and 3/4 cup sugar.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 4 cups of flour, melted butter and eggs.  Mix with paddle or spoon, then add yeast mixture and the milk mixture.  Mix to combine.  Add remaining flour, 1 cup at a time.  Switch to a dough hook when the dough gets too tough for the paddle – around 6 cups.  Using the dough hook knead the dough for about 8 minutes.  Or, turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic.  Return to a large, greased bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Sponge

Why whole wheat?  I enjoy the nuttier flavor as well as the added fiber.  It goes perfectly with recipes calling for stronger spices like caraway.  If you’re looking for different fillings, check out my new post with spicy sausage or pizza stuffing!

Rising dough

Filling

Cabbage roll fillingIn a large pot (you’ll need ALL the room!) brown the hamburger or sausage, leaving the fat.  Add the chopped onions and cook until translucent.  Add the cabbage and caraway, salt and pepper to taste.  Cook the cabbage al dente – not to mush, but still firm enough to resist your teeth a bit when you bite.

I added 1 Tbl of caraway, but I would cut that back to 1/2 Tbl or maybe just 1 tsp.  It’s a heavy-duty spice.  You can also try some red pepper flakes for a little punch.

2015-02-28 13.39.40When the dough has risen, turn it out again onto a heavily floured board or surface.  You’ll need to cut it into 24 somewhat even pieces.  I cut the big lump in 1/4, then stretched those pieces out and cut them into 6 pieces.  A little variation is fine.  Cover your pieces with plastic wrap while you work rolling them out.

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Roll a piece of dough into a ball, then with a rolling pin roll it out to about 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick.  Even at 1/8″ you’ll have plenty of bread, so don’t worry about making them too thin.  You should have a circle about 6″ in diameter.  2015-02-28 14.09.33

Place 1/2 cup filling in the center, then top with 1 Tbl of cheese.  Pull up opposite sides of the circle and pinch them together.  Pull the OTHER sides together and do the same.  Pinch up the sides to seal all the way, fold all this under the roll and place that side down onto a greased sheet or baking pan.

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Bake the rolls at 350 for 25 minutes, until the rolls are golden brown.

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You can serve immediately, or let them cool, store in plastic freezer bags and reheat them anytime.  They keep very well in the freezer.

I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions – this recipe has a million variations.  Please leave a note below!

 

I use my Kitchenaid stand mixer to mix the dough – it’s worked perfectly for more than 20 years.  Here’s the latest models:

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13 thoughts on “Whole Wheat Bierocks with Cheese”

  1. Hello and thanks for sharing, this is the first time that I have heard about this and the amazing thing is that this whole wheat bierocks looks so delicious.
    also this is made of whole wheat and that is another added benefit. From what I see it seem to be very healthy. Thanks for a well written post with awesome information.

    1. Thank you Norman.  I’ve made them dozens of times and they always turn out great.  A nice quick meal to have in the freezer.

  2. Hi. I have just tried doing the beirocks recipe but for some reason it didn’t rise well and i followed the step by step instructions, what am I doing wrong? I left the dough for about 1hr 45 mins to rise aswel.
    Could you also tell me what sauerkraut is?
    I have never heard of that before.
    Some other great recipies I would like to try out aswel which I am looking forward to.
    Cheers
    Matthew

    1. Well, there are a number of reasons. Your yeast might have been too old, or the place you put it to rise may have been too cold, or the yeast was dissolved in water that was too hot. That’s the thing with baking – there are a lot of moving parts! But I’ll review the recipe and make sure I didn’t miss something crucial!

      Sauerkraut is just a form of fermented cabbage. You find it in the canned goods aisle, or for a fresher version, you can find it in the chilled section near the Klaussen pickles. If I had a specific recipe for using sauerkraut, I would skip any additional salt.

  3. Hey great dough recipe turns out perfect . I sauted red and sweet onion and shiitake mushrooms with butter and balmasmic viniger then carmelized them with brown sugar and garlic . these bierocks game out great thanks again !

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