A bread roll is a small, often round loaf of bread served as a meal accompaniment (eaten plain or with butter). A roll can be served and eaten whole or cut transversely and dressed with filling between the two halves. Rolls are also commonly used to make sandwiches similar to those produced using slices of bread.
There are many names for bread rolls, especially in local dialects of British English. The different terms originated from bakers, who labelled different bread rolls depending on how they made the dough and how they were cooked. Over time, most people have come to use one name to refer to all similar products regardless of whether or not it is technically correct by the old terms.
Bap – larger soft roll, roughly 5–6 inches (12–15 cm) in diameter. May contain fats such as lard or butter to provide tenderness. Can come in multiple shapes dependent on region. Baps as traditionally made in Scotland are not sweet, unlike the Irish version, which may contain currants. The 9th Edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary (1995) says that the word "bap" dates from the 16th century and that its origin is unknown.
Batch (generally the same as a bap) – term used in North Warwickshire, Nuneaton, Coventry and Cheshire as well as on the Wirral, England
Barm or barm cake or flour cake – flat, often floured, savoury, small bread made using a natural leaven including mashed hops to stop it souring; a term often used in Liverpool, Manchester, South Lancashire and West Lancashire.
Bulkie roll – type of roll with a crust that is usually slightly crisp or crunchy and has no toppings.
Bun – term for a bread roll, bread batch, or bread barm cake, primarily used in Northern England and in much of Canada.
Butterflake roll – a New England originated roll made of several layers of dough oriented vertically and separated by thin butter layers. When cooked in a muffin cup the layers fan out at the top. Also called a Fan Tan roll or Yankee Buttermilk roll.
Challah roll – Jewish challah bread dough formed into a roll, often in a knotted or swirled form. It is found in most kosher sections of grocery stores, and therefore is commonly eaten by Jewish families across the United States.
Cloverleaf roll – American version, consisting of three small balls of dough in a muffin cup, proofed and baked together.
Cob – round roll, can be crusty or not; a term often used in the English Midlands
Concha – Mexican pastry that is famous for its shell-like shape
Dinner roll – smaller roll, often crusty
Finger roll – soft roll about three times longer than it is wide
French roll – generic term for the bread roll. Also a sweeter, softer roll with milk added to the dough.
Parker House roll – roll made by flattening the center of a ball of dough with a rolling pin so that it becomes an oval shape and then folding the oval in half. They are made with milk and are generally quite buttery, soft, and slightly sweet with a crispy shell.