Saturday, March 20, 2010

Kaiser Rolls {bba}

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.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- 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)

the verdict:

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!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rye and Seed Crackers

I've spent so much time baking bread from Peter Reinhart's book The Bread Baker's Apprentice as part of the the BBA Challenge that I've had little time to explore the bread in his new book, Artisan Breads Every Day, although I've had a copy since it it first came out last Fall. (I also have his Whole Grain Breads book which is fabulous.) When my friend Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook asked me if I wanted to bake the Crispy Rye and Seed Crackers from the new book I jumped at the chance to join her. As circumstances would have it, we couldn't find a convenient time to bake at the same time, and I think Di might not have ended up making the crackers.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- I won my copy of Reinhart's new book in a giveaway sponsored by Jude of the blog Apple Pie, Patis, and Pate. Thanks, Jude! Although his blog has been on hiatus for several months, check the archives for some beautiful bread and other foods.

- You can find the recipe for these crackers here. There is no leaven at all in this recipe, but I'm including it on my bread blog because it came out of Reinhart's bread book. Makes sense to me.

- The cracker dough has several kinds of seeds, which are combined with rye flour. I ground the sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds in my spice blender. Instead of grinding flax seeds, I used flax meal that I had in the fridge (it keeps much longer there).

- I mixed my dough in the food processor (surprise!). It was a bit sticky, so I added more rye flour, about a tablespoon or 2.

- Instead of a floured counter, I kneaded the dough on an oiled counter.

- Using a straight edge for a guide I cut half of my crackers into diamond shapes, as Reinhart does in the book - and as NPR did in the recipe link above. (I gave away all of the diamond-shaped ones and later realized that I forgot to take any photos of them.) The other half I cut with a dinosaur-shaped cookie cutter. Why dinosaurs? Why not??

- I topped my crackers with salt for garnish. I was a little too exuberant with the salt, but luckily it was quite easy to brush off the excess after the crackers were baked.

- The crackers that turned out the best were the ones that I rolled very thin and then baked until they were browned and crisp.

the verdict:

These made a surprisingly big splash at my book group meeting. They tasted a lot like Wheat Thins, but in a rye-ish kind of way. All in all, a nice savory cracker and a very cool way to incorporate whole grains.