Whole grain rolls are any type of bread rolls that are made with the entire seeds of a grain-type plant. Wheat, rye and oats are among the most common grains used for rolls, but other whole grains also can be used. Just about any bread roll provides nutritional benefits from grain flour, but the use of whole grains and whole grain flours provides additional health benefits. Most recipes that use whole grain flours are comparable to recipes that use all-purpose or enriched white bread flour, but each recipe varies according to individual taste.
Any product that is labeled as "whole grain" generally must contain the entire seed of the grain or grains involved. A seed, or kernel, consists of the bran, germ and endosperm. Refined flour typically removes the bran, which is the tough outer skin, and the germ, which is the embryo of the seed. Even though the remaining endosperm makes up the largest part of the seed and still has nutritional benefit, consuming the entire grain provides a greater level of nutrition than consuming the endosperm alone.
Some whole grain flours work better for bread roll recipes than others. In general, whole wheat flour, rye flour and oat bran are safe bets. Whole wheat flour, with its rich, familiar taste and light density, appears in most recipes for whole grain rolls. Rye flour helps create a moist roll but might make the bread too dense if it is used alone. Oat bran contributes nutritional benefits while having little effect on the chemistry of baking bread.
Other whole grain flours, although they are not found as frequently in rolls or other bread recipes, can still be used without having a negative effect on the baking process or final product. An individual who has a wheat allergy or sensitivity can replace whole wheat flour with spelt flour, which requires less moisture than wheat but otherwise produces a similar result. Graham flour, a type of whole wheat flour, adds a course texture to recipes that some people might enjoy. For people who have a sweet tooth, teff flour adds a natural, healthy sweetness to bread roll recipes.
In general, whole grain rolls provide more fiber and protein than other types of rolls. Many whole grains provide additional nutrients, but these change depending on the type of whole grain used. Teff flour, for instance, is high in calcium and iron. Whole wheat contains high levels of vitamin E, along with other vitamins and minerals. Oat bran might provide enough additional fiber to help lower cholesterol when it is eaten on a consistent basis, and rye provides high levels of additional protein.
Aside from the type of flour used, recipes for whole grain rolls make use of the same ingredients expected of any other bread roll recipe. Most contain yeast, which allows the bread to rise, as well as sugar, salt, milk, eggs and butter. The proportions of these ingredients vary depending on the types and amounts of flours used, however, and substituting one whole grain flour type for another within a particular recipe typically requires altering these proportions.