I'm sure that I ate hard rolls in my early years, but my clearest - and fondest - association with kaiser rolls is from the wonderful trip my husband and I took to Austria in 1983. We'd been working for 2 1/2 years with no vacation time aside from the odd long weekend, and were sorely due for a break. It was my first time abroad and we spent 2 weeks hopping trains and buses around Austria, visiting big cities (where we sat in cafes and drank coffee and hot chocolate) and tiny towns (where we spent our time cross county skiing). We stayed at bed-and-breakfast type accommodations, and breakfast was, invariably, kaiser rolls, butter, and jam with coffee and tea.
Ever since that time I've had a soft spot in my heart for a Continental breakfast! I can say that I never dreamed that I'd ever tackle homemade kaiser rolls, but the next installment of the BBA Challenge found me baking the Kaiser Rolls from Peter Reinhart's book The Bread Baker's Apprentice.
- This recipe uses pâte fermentée, a type of pre-ferment that is the same percentage of ingredients as the finished dough, but made in advance so the flavors develop. After a day or so in the fridge, the pâte fermentée is mixed with additional fresh ingredients to make the final dough. As usual, I mixed the dough for this bread in the food processor. Although I don't reproduce the BBA recipes, you can find the recipe for this bread here.
- A batch of kaiser roll dough makes nine 3-ounce rolls.
- I shaped my rolls three different ways, shown above. The first was knotting the dough (roll on the left in the picture above), which was a bit tricky, but gets easier with practice. I also used a roll stamp, but even though I pressed very hard to make as deep an impression with the stamp as I could, the pattern turned out very faint (see middle roll, above). The third technique I used was folding or pleating the edges of circle of dough into the center (see the roll on the right, above).
- I baked some of my rolls with salt and seeds to make Kummelweck rolls (famous in Buffalo, NY as the base of the local specialty, Beef on Weck sandwiches. I made the sandwiches, which are posted on my other blog)
I'd assumed I would make this classic bread, taste it for nostalgia's sake, and that would be it before moving on to something more exotic and delicious. But I ought to know by now that the BBA breads will always exceed my expectations, especially when I'm not expecting anything spectacular. This bread happens to be our favorite bread so far - the only one that my husband asked me to bake again the minute that the last roll was eaten.
Whether you eat these rolls with butter and jam for breakfast, or with roast beef and horseradish for dinner, I highly recommend them!
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