Wednesday, September 30, 2009

BBA Challenge #16: Kaiser Rolls

Here in Germany, Kaiser Rolls do not exist. Well, sort of not. Kaiserbrötchen are usually found in southern Germany, extending down to Switzerland. But that does not mean that the ordinary person has ever heard of them. Most people in the north have also never heard of O'batzda either, even though is one of my favorite German foods.

So, to most Germans, they do not exist. But they still have Semmel, Weckle, Rundstück, Kipfle, Bömmel, and my favorite, the Schrippe. Okay, okay, so those are all regional names for the same plain white roll. In Berlin, the Schrippe is the ubiquitous roll, and costs about 0,19€ at almost every place.

Because they do not exist, I was not too excited about making the Kaiser Rolls. In truth, however, it was more the case that we have been having a streak of white breads with the English, French and Italian breads, that I just thought, "No, not another white bread". Funny how Peter Reinhart somehow, conveniently, put all the enriched breads in the front, then all the white breads. I bet you he would have switched Ciabatta to a later place in the book if it had any other name.

Reading through other people's blogs, it seems that you only use about half of the pâte fermentée for this bread. All I can say is oops! I guess I've been bad at reading directions. Also, because I made the pâte fermentée about four days before making the actual bread, I sort of forgot to pay attention to the directions and just forged ahead.

Here's the liquids mixing. Note the yellow color after the egg has been mixed in.

The flour as well as all of the pâte fermentée is mixed in. Remember that I added a whole batch of it, which is about double of what is normally needed.

Add a little bit more to make it come together, and let it knead until windowpane. Peter Reinhart recommends using the pâte fermentée within three days because after that the gluten will start to break down. But I actually didn't notice any of that in my mixing.

Okay, here is where I have to come clean. If Mags from The Other Side of Fifty can do it, so can I: The pâte fermentée was started on a Saturday, the dough itself on a Wednesday, and the rolls on a Sunday. So it was a week-long bread, start to finish. More on that later.

So here I am, on a Sunday morning, trying to be quiet to let our jet-lagged visitor sleep some. I divided the rolls into twelve equal pieces.

Because I didn't feel like buying a Kaiser Roll stamp, I went the knot route. I think it made better looking rolls, though.

Here are the ropes for the Kaiser Roll knots. Unfortunately the dough was a bit sticky and squishy, probably from having been in the fridge for so long. I would have preferred a stiffer dough. Oh, wait, maybe it was because I used the entire batch of pâte fermentée.

Nevertheless, I loved the shape these made. I must make rolls this way again. basically, you make an overhand knot and then tuck the ends in. It looks like a lot of effort for basically none.

The crust was pretty much soft, not crispy like on the brötchen you get here.

But to compare Kaiser rolls to Kaiserbrötchen is probably like comparing Fujis to Granny Smiths. They come from different places, no?

The crumb was light just like the brötchen you get here.

Someone also mentioned using an apple corer as a stamp, but that didn't turn out so good, as I found out. I wasn't sure how much pressure to use, and since the rolls get an upside-down rise immediately after stamping, the stamp came out sort of- well- odd. I did sprinkle them with poppyseeds, though.

I'm going to be fully honest here and say that this was probably the least favorite of the breads we have made, ranking for me, below the Anadama Bread, which is not bad, but compared to some of the breads we have made like the Casatiello and the Cranberry Walnut Celebration bread, this one just left me wanting more. Maybe I'm too spoiled, but after that awesome Italian Bread re-do, this one could hold the mayo, but just couldn't cut the mustard.

If you, unlike me, liked my rolls, you will definitely enjoy these:

Chris from Eating Is The Hard Part
Janice from Round The Table
Mags from The Other Side of 50
Carolyn from Two Skinny Jenkins

Again, thanks to Nicole from Pinch My Salt for leading our brave effort through The Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge.


  1. It's amazing you put in the whole amount of pre-ferment and they still turned out fine. I also love how soft your rolls look and how "gentle" the knots are!

  2. Way to keep it real Daniel! Different strokes for different folks, yes? And hey... thanks for the huge blog nod. (sometimes my whining pays Can't wait to hear your take on the lavash crackers.

  3. Your rolls look amazing. You keep talking about the Italian bread...I can't wait to make it. It's next on my list.

  4. I like the apple corer-stamped one.

    The rolls are perfectly round and the crumb looks soft. Wonder why the crust is soft and not crispy...

  5. Hey, I DO know Kaiserbrötchen and they DO sell them here. And I live just a few kilometers away from you (say, about 25 or so)... Anyway, good job on the rolls, I think. I'm sooo behind on baking and posting. I started working again 3 weeks ago, and with 3 little kids at home and being really tired after work I haven't found the time lately to do any kitchen-related things - I sooooooooo miss baking. I'll try to clear the backlog, though...

  6. Your honesty makes us like you even more! Interesting design on top of the kaiser roll. Looks a bit like a flower. Oh well, onto bigger and better breads!

  7. I like the Kaiser rolls. But what bread havent I liked..(Oh maybe the lavash crackers).But I made five cuts in mine to resemble the shape of the rolls - worked nicely. Loved all the pics...happy baking!!

  8. Haha, ap269, you caught my lie! I had actually read about Kaiserbrötchen on Wikipedia, but had never seen one. Friends we visited last weekend tipped me off, that, yes, there are Kaiser Rolls in Berlin. At Kaiser's Supermarket, of course.

    Maybe I will make these again when I need buns, to give them another shot. But I've actually been eyeing that English Muffin recipe again.

    Thanks everyone for all the nice comments!