I’ve baked bread, rolls, braided buns… and so it’s time to try some Kaiser rolls! You really have to plan these in advance, because they need to be leavened twice, but trust me, it’s worth it. Believe me that these are a whole different league from the depraved, bakery-chain Kaiser rolls you usually see in supermarkets. Also, forget the various cheat contraptions in the form of Kaiser roll cutters. That really isn’t the key to successful home baking.

Kaisersemmeln, or Kaiser rolls, are an essential element of Viennese breakfast. Actually, they’re popular in all of Austria. Ah, those unforgettable, crisp, and still warm Kaiser rolls devoured with a lavish breakfast right before heading out to the ski slopes…

They date back to the 13th century, when they were made only for the rich on special occasions, as the poor only had dark bread. The Viennese Kaiser roll was a luxury, for it was tricky to prepare. It’s characteristic is the star shape, which is made by folding over the dough five times. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds. And if it’s not perfect? That’s the seal of home-crafted bread! When you make them for the second time, it’ll go much better.

Pulling these crisp and fluffy rolls out of the oven on a weekend and enjoying them for breakfast is nothing short of heaven. I served them with butter and rhubarb jam that I’d made a few days beforehand.


Kaiser Rolls

Ingredients

10 pieces
Preparation 30 min. + leavening overnight + second leavening

First dough:
120g flour
150ml cold water
5g fresh yeast
Second dough:
150ml cold water
5g fresh yeast
360g flour
1 tsp salt

Method

Make the starter the evening before baking. Combine the flour, water, and crumbled yeast. Cover with a damp towel and let sit overnight at room temperature.

The next day in the morning, prepare the second dough. In a separate bowl, combine the water with the crumbled yeast. Add the flour, salt, and the starter from the evening before, which would have risen nicely. Mix everything together and knead for 10 minutes. You can use a kitchen mixer if you like. The dough should be smooth and not sticky. Again, leave it in a bowl covered with a damp towel and let rise for 2 hours at room temperature.

Tip the dough onto the counter and divide into 10 pieces. Each piece should weigh about 80g. Form each piece into a ball. You can sprinkle the surface with a little flour. Place well apart and let rise another 10 minutes, covered by a towel.

Flatten each ball into a patty. Try and shape it into a roll approx. 12 cm in diameter and thickness.

  1. Place your left thumb on the dough, like the hand of a clock (see photo). You’ll keep your thumb here for the entire preparation of the roll.
  2. Fold the dough over your thumb (see photo).
  3. With the edge of your palm, or with your little finger, make a ridge in the dough (see photo).
  4. With your right hand, fold the dough over the ridge towards the middle (see photo).
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have 5 folds.
  6. Fold the remaining dough into the opening where your thumb was (see photo). Yes, only now can you take your thumb out!
  7. Use your thumb and index finger to press the dough together here so that it will stay put.

There’s a good video showing you how to fold the dough here (even if you don’t speak German, you’ll see what you need to do).

Place the rolls star-shape down onto a lightly floured surface and let rise for 10 minutes, covered by a towel.

Once risen, place the rolls star-shape up onto a baking tray. Spray them with water (using a spray bottle or your fingers) – at this point, you may sprinkle them with poppy seeds – and place into an oven preheated to 230C.

It’s a good idea to place a pot of water in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden.

Inspiration: magazine Servus