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Traditional Scottish Breakfast: Morning Rolls and Fillings

Gordon loves cooking and experimenting with food. He loves making new dishes, particularly with unusual or underused ingredients.

Scottish morning rolls.

Scottish morning rolls.

A Brief Guide to Scottish Morning Rolls

Scottish morning rolls are a longtime breakfast tradition in Scotland. While the full Scottish breakfast may be eaten at weekends or on holidays, morning rolls are more likely to be incorporated in daily breakfasts before work. It used to be a huge tradition that someone in the household would fetch the newspaper and rolls in the morning for the family breakfast, but it is perhaps more likely in modern times that the filled roll will be bought from a baker's shop or similar on the way to work.

What Are Morning Rolls?

Morning rolls—usually simply called rolls—are a type of soft bread roll which are opened up, buttered if desired and incorporated with any number of chosen fillings. There are some who like their rolls soft and pale on the top, while others prefer their rolls well fired and crispy. A great many shops will, for this reason, offer a choice of the two and even perhaps a middle ground for the particularly discerning customer.

What Are Some Popular Fillings for the Rolls?

Morning rolls in Scotland today are eaten at any time of day and may include cold meat and salad for lunch, jam as a snack (particularly popular in days of old with children) or leftover roasted meats with pickle or mustard. There is no limit, really, to what can be used to fill a Scottish roll, but this article will look at some of the more popular breakfast options, which are also selected at other times of the day—particularly for lunch, by those who have skipped breakfast.

A buttered Scottish morning roll.

A buttered Scottish morning roll.

To Butter or Not to Butter?

It is certainly very common in Scotland in a traditional sense that butter firstly be added to the morning roll, irrespective of which filling is to follow. In more health-conscious times, many people are either using low-fat spreads made from olive or sunflower oil, margarine, or eliminating spreads altogether.

The choice is, of course, an individual one. Whatever else, there can be no disputing that traditional butter does impart that extra special bit of flavour.

A roll and Lorne (square) sausage.

A roll and Lorne (square) sausage.

A roll and sausage and tattie scone.

A roll and sausage and tattie scone.

A roll and sausage and fried onions.

A roll and sausage and fried onions.

Roll and Lorne Sausage

The Lorne sausage is a type of sausage unique to Scotland. It is blocks of prepared meat and spices, sliced and fried, hence the other frequent names of sliced sausage or square sausage. A roll and Lorne sausage is popular on its own, but other accompaniments are frequently added for a little bit of extra taste. Lorne sausages can be either fried or grilled.

With a Tattie Scone

A roll and sausage and tattie scone is a delicious concoction. The tattie (potato) scones will most often be bought premade in modern times, but they are fairly straightforward to make at home, once you have a bit of practice at rolling and handling what is the necessarily extremely wet dough. The precooked scones are fried along with the sausage for the last few minutes of its cooking time and served on top of the sausage before the top is placed on the roll.

With Fried Onions

Fried onions are also delicious on a roll and sausage. Fried onions will usually be served instead of a tattie scone and are again fried with the sausage, in this instance added to the pan at the same time as the sausage to ensure they are fully cooked down and soft. Raw onions can very successfully be substituted as a healthier and crunchier alternative.

Beef link sausages.

Beef link sausages.

Roll and link sausage.

Roll and link sausage.

Roll and Link Sausages

Link sausages are the more widely recognisable sausage type found in Scotland. Although link sausages (beef or pork) are occasionally eaten on rolls at breakfast time, they are nowhere near as popular in this respect as Lorne. Link sausages are more associated in Scotland with the traditional steak pie.

There are often two big mistakes made with cooking link sausages:

  1. Firstly, they should never be pricked (pierced) with a fork prior to cooking them, as this serves only to allow the moisture and the flavour to disappear in to the pan and make the sausages bland and dry.
  2. Secondly, in order to stop them bursting (this is what piercing is designed to achieve), they should simply be fried in a little oil over a very low heat for fifteen to twenty minutes, rather than a high one for a fraction of that time.
A roll and two rashers of bacon.

A roll and two rashers of bacon.

Roll and Bacon

Bacon in the UK is very different from many other parts of the world, particularly North America. This is for the simple reason that the meat is obtained from a different part of the pig. In the UK, bacon is from the back or side of the pig and not from the belly. This means it looks and tastes very different in other locales.

A bacon roll is probably the second most common type of morning roll in Scotland, after the roll and Lorne sausage. The bacon is either fried or grilled, and two rashers per roll is about average.

Roll and egg (and dark soy sauce).

Roll and egg (and dark soy sauce).

Roll and Fried Egg

The concept of how to fry an egg must be one of the most hotly debated in cooking. Fat or oil; tilt pan this way or that; splash fat up over egg or not; sunny side up?—all and more are made to complicate what should be a fairly straightforward procedure. A roll and fried egg is a fairly common breakfast choice in Scotland, but the state of the egg when served will vary hugely. Why not give the method below a try?

Instructions

  1. Ensure egg is allowed to reach room temperature and not straight from refrigerator (at least two hours—overnight is fine).
  2. Break egg carefully into small bowl or cup and never straight into pan.
  3. Add a little oil to non-stick frying pan and spread around with a piece of kitchen towel. Minimal oil only is required. Bring pan up to a medium to high heat.
  4. Gently deposit egg in centre of pan. Immediately reduce heat to fairly low. Season with a little salt and white pepper.
  5. Most importantly, keep an eye on it but otherwise leave it alone for a few minutes
  6. When you can see that the egg white is cooked and not before, carefully turn the egg with a spatula and cook for a couple of minutes on the other side. An egg sunny side up on a bread roll is not a great idea, for the simple reason that having a colleague point out the yolk dribbled down your tie, shirt or top is not the best start to any day at the office.

Soy Sauce on a Roll and Egg?

It is not conventional and by no means traditional, but it has to be tried to be believed. A splash or two of that well-known "Scottish" condiment, dark soy sauce, is delicious beyond description on a roll and fried egg.

Rind must be removed from black pudding.

Rind must be removed from black pudding.

A roll and black pudding.

A roll and black pudding.

Roll and Black Pudding

Black pudding (commonly blood pudding, where available in North America) is a hugely popular part of a full Scottish breakfast but is probably one of the less common fillings on a Scottish morning roll. It is served in cafes in this way, however, and by some at home.

Like Lorne sausages, black pudding will come in slices and is commonly fried. It is made from cereal grains, spices and what is usually pig's blood. It is truly delicious and popular throughout most of particularly the North of the UK.

Remove the Rind After Cooking But Before Eating

It is important to know that although it should be cooked with the rind on, the rind will almost certainly be plastic and must be removed prior to placing the black pudding on the roll. If the rind is removed prior to cooking, it is likely the black pudding slice will start to disintegrate in the pan or even under the grill.

Traditional Scottish breakfast roll condiments: HP sauce and ketchup.

Traditional Scottish breakfast roll condiments: HP sauce and ketchup.

Traditional Accompaniments

Although the Scottish morning rolls and their suggested accompaniments will often be served and eaten precisely as shown on this page, there are two particular condiments which can not go without mention. Heinz Tomato Ketchup or HP Sauce have to be offered to anyone eating a Scottish breakfast roll of any type, as sometimes, they provide that finishing little touch to ensure perfection.

Feedback and Comments

Hopefully, something on this page will have appealed to your tastes, and you are prepared to improvise where necessary and try a traditional Scottish breakfast roll for yourself.

Thank you for your visit, and any feedback which you have may be left in the space below.

Comments

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on June 27, 2020:

I have a lot of friends and family who do similar, Alexis, when they return home for a visit. £2 certainly seems a bit steep - but in a Scottish football ground, you will easily pay £2.50 for a very low quality pie... Thanks for visiting and leaving me your message.

Alexis on June 26, 2020:

I love mutton pies. I live in the Cotswolds (ex Glaswegian) and used to be able to buy these in Morrisons. If I have driven to see my family in Glasgow I take a chiller and buy pies at Gretna. I can buy them a few miles away in Moreton in Marsh but they cost nearly £2.00 each!!!

Jock Irvine on June 09, 2019:

All this talk about "scottish rolls" is great but it missed a huge part of scottish culture by not mentioning "well fired rolls" Every Sunday morning I was sentbti the shop to buy a dozen well fired rolls. These rolls were deliberately burnt by the baker and are black as coal on top and delicious with every thing on.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on March 01, 2018:

Well, you certainly wouldn't get canteen meals for that price in Scotland now - but I'm glad you enjoyed it while you had the chance!

Roderick Stewart on February 23, 2018:

I worked in Allied Suppliers and we had a subsidised canteen and everything was cheap and Morning break had rolls in everything for 6 p and lunch was a big meal for - 20p or so I can't remember - but it was ridiculously cheap and it was so big a portion that we were getting fat

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on February 18, 2018:

Hi, Rod. Good to hear from you again and first and foremost - no, I don't think you're a loony! I'm glad you are managing to keep in touch with home in many ways despite being so far away and I share your love of Ayrshire potatoes. I remember my Gran used to serve them with Loch Fyne herring fillets fried in oatmeal when I was a wee boy. Keep up your food experiments and good luck with devising new ways of recreating the tastes of home.

Rod on February 18, 2018:

I am now in Australia and it is up to me to make all the auld flavours and tastes I had in Scotland - I make a roll with egg bacon and mince (fried) with onions (soft) and a touch of tomato ketchup and some HP sauce - just a little of each - I miss all the Scottish dishes I got back home - we can get black pudding and there are some ex-pat butchers that make totty scones and things. I make my own stovies and soups - but the ingredients are not the same - OOOh

I long for Ayrshire potatoes with lots of butter on top

Hope you don't think I am a loony

Rod

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on February 18, 2018:

That sounds like one skilled cook and one tasty roll, Rod. Thanks for getting in touch.

Rod on February 17, 2018:

At college - the cook - Ruby - asked how do you like your egg - my preference - the yolk like syrup - so she fried it to perfection - and a dream roll in egg - eat all the way round the outside and end up with the yolk in the last big bite ---- and heaven burst into my mouth - salty egg yolk with butter and bread -- AAAHHHH heaven !!!

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on August 12, 2015:

Hi, Kristen. Yes, many of these things are pretty geographical specific but the good news is that some of them can very effectively be prepared from scratch at home, wherever you are in the world.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on August 12, 2015:

Hi, Paul. I have tried many recipes for morning rolls and not one has even come close to working. I would love to share details of your recipe if you can recommend it.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on August 04, 2015:

Gordon, great hub! I never had a scone before, but would love to try that and these recipes! Voted up for useful!

paul on June 07, 2015:

I have a recipe for morning rolls don't know if it is still live this site.cheers

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on September 03, 2012:

Hi, Rebecca. Thanks for your visit and comment. I'm not sure whereabouts in England you are living but I used to be able to get a very close approximation of Scottish morning rolls when I lived in Middlesex from a wide range of suppliers, including Tesco. Why not ask around among the bakers in your area or give Tesco a try? Good luck!

Rebecca Hollywood on August 27, 2012:

yeh i love my morning rolls with anything really canny beat a scottish morning roll, however i have a problem lol i now live in england and im trying to find somewhere to get them either deliverd from scotland (like i do my Lorne) or somewhere i can buy them in england does anyone know of anywhere that may do either one of these x

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on June 20, 2012:

Thank you, Munich oldie but I have been unsuccessful myself in finding an authentic recipe for the rolls. Maybe someone reading this can help out?

Munich oldie. on June 19, 2012:

The look great, Gordon. Would love to have a real roll with any of your suggested fillings. Only problem is getting the rolls! I have tried some internet recipe suggestions but none have worked. Do you know of any proven recipe that will produce something close to a real Scottish Roll?

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on February 14, 2012:

Thanks for visiting and commenting, Flickr. I'm glad you like the ideas and hope you get the opportunity to give some of them a try.

Flickr on February 14, 2012:

Awesomely delicious. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on February 05, 2012:

Yes, delicious foods all that I'm sure you must miss, Anne. I hope this page at least gave you memories of home. Thanks for visiting.

Anne on February 05, 2012:

I am now in Australia for 40 years and I would love a haddock supper or some McKellar-Watt sausages or some Ayrshire spuds (with a lump of butter) Arbroath smokie some black pudding Ayrshire bacon and a whole list of Scottish foods

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on September 28, 2011:

Hello, Eileen and thank you for the visit and comment. I am glad these ideas brought back that warm home feeling for you.

Eileen Goodall from Buckinghamshire, England on September 27, 2011:

OMG it's home on a plate!

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on April 11, 2011:

Thanks very much, Simone. Glad you liked it and hope you have the chance to try some of the foodstuffs! :)

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on April 11, 2011:

David, yes, I do like kippers and smoked salmon is excellent on toast with scrambled eggs. There is, however, something special about a roll and Lorne sausage...

Thanks for your visit.

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on April 11, 2011:

Oh awesome!! Love the Hub- and the photos as always are so helpful! Voted up!

Russell-D from Southern Ca. on April 11, 2011:

Gordon -- I'm a Kippers fan, with smoked salmon second. Kippes and eggs on a plate.

Smoked Salmon on a roll. I'm hungry already. David Russell

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on April 11, 2011:

Thanks, Tony

My problem is that I love all of them and have been known to over-indulge...! :)

Tony Mead from Yorkshire on April 11, 2011:

hi gordon

great breakfast ideas, I love black pudding, my favourite has to be a bacon butty.

cheers Tony

Gordon Hamilton (author) from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom on April 11, 2011:

I have often made a similar mistake, tritrain. Thanks for the visit and the comment and I hope you enjoy your breakfast when you wake up.

And Drewson from United States on April 10, 2011:

Oh, I should not have looked at this food before I go to bed.

I'm now really hungry!