Wednesday, September 9, 2009

BBA Challenge Week 16 — Kaiser Rolls


Here we are, 16 breads into the challenge and on a roll. *groan* OK, OK. Lame jokes aside, baking one bread per week—sometimes more—has been just the thing I needed to eliminate excuses and finally get around to utilizing this wonderful bread book.

I'm baking my way through Peter Reinhart's award winning book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, along with 200+ other amateur bakers. Want to join in the madness, or just learn more about this semi-crazy undertaking? Check out the following links:

I'm going to let the pictures do a lot of the talking this time and interject commentary or captions as needed.

kaiser prep 1

This is a two day bread, utilizing pâte fermentée, the same pre-ferment used for the BBA French bread. After all of the weighing, mixing, kneading, etc., we come to the shaping.

kaiser prep 2
See the book in the background? Take a good look at the picture of what the rolls are supposed to look like, because my rolls? Yeah, they don't look anything like that.

kaiser prep 3

With my trusty scale, I weighed hunks of dough to get them all about the same size. I was shooting for 100 grams. Someone in the group mentioned that this seemed the ideal weight.

kaiser prep 4

Each hunk of dough is then shaped into rolls and left alone for about 10 minutes for the dough to relax. SHAPING TIME!

kaiser prep 5-cutting

See that cool plastic, fancy cutting tool thingy that's supposed to make the signature "Kaiser Roll" shape? DON'T BUY ONE. They're a waste of $6.95 (+S&H) or whatever it was because, as you'll see in a minute, it's just about worthless. But if you happen to know the trick to getting this thing to actually MAKE the correct shape, please post about it in the comments. I'm curious to know if there is some magic twisting motion involved or if the directions in the recipe cause some of the problems.

kaiser prep 6-all cut

What you're looking at are the bottoms of the rolls. Here's where things went a bit squiffy. According to the directions, you're supposed to line a baking sheet with parchment paper, mist it with spray oil and dust with cornmeal. Then he says you're supposed to put the rolls, cut side down on the parchment. I'm thinking "the parchment" means the one you just prepped. But... but... it's covered with cornmeal. Sooo, that's why the tops of my rolls have cornmeal all over them. Not a bad thing, not at all, but I'm thinking Mr. Reinhart meant for me to put them on some OTHER piece of parchment for this first after-shaping rise.

kaiser prep 7-ferment1

So you cover them up and let them proof for about 45 minutes. They get all nice and puffy. Then you flip them over...

kaiser prep 8-flipped

And they have to rise AGAIN. Hey, I'm used to this whole bread waiting game thing, but these seemed especially time consuming. I was thinking, "Cool. After 45 minutes, I can pop these in the oven and they'll be ready just in time for dinner. *reading, reading* Wait, What? ANOTHER 45 minutes?? Gah!"

So I waited some more.

kaiser prep 9-flipped2
You see that middle roll on the right? I used the cutter on that one again because I wanted to run a test. It seemed odd to put the cut side down and squish the cutting marks all to hell, so I thought It'd see what it would do left to rise like that. Yeah, it didn't make a bit of difference.

kaiser cooked-full
Can you tell which one I re-cut? Don't feel bad, I can barely tell myself. But it's the one that looks the least like a star. Or sand dollar.


kaiser-silver dollar

The super-special shaping tool make a dandy star shape. So if that's what you're going for, by all means, knock yourself out and buy one.

By now you're probably thinking, "Sheesh. Did she hate making these things or what?" Actually, no. It was pretty fun and different from any of the other breads we've done. It just felt really, really looong. Thank goodness they tasted fantastic. I mean, look at that crumb:


So, they had a weird, very un-Kaiser Roll-like shape. Psshht. Who cares. They were awesome.

p.s. Apparently, I need to learn how to turn on the iron every now and then. I have a nasty habit of using seriously wrinkled linens in my photos. Whoops.


  1. Wow! Those look fantastic. Very professional!!

  2. You have a great lookin' roll there...don't have a clue how to use the cutter. I just roll the dough in long skinny logs and tie 'em in a knot; tuck in the loose ends~one end over the middle and the other end under. Pinch to seal or they'll 'explode' during baking.

  3. Great post! I was also a bit surprised by the 45 minutes + 45 minutes more. I did not bother flipping them, just let them rise normally.

    Loved your book stand, by the way.... Maybe I should look for one for my kitchen

  4. Sand dollars... good description! That's exactly what mine looked like using the same plastic stamp that you used. Great tasting rolls though, weren't they.

  5. Even though the stamp didn't work too well, I think your rolls look absolutely delicious! I definitely have to try these soon!

  6. I agree that the instructions about turning them over seemed kind of odd. I also wondered about the cornmeal dusted baking sheet because once you turn them they will have cornmeal on top.

    I also bought one of those kaiser stamps but did not end up using it because I decided to make small rolls and when I went to use it I realized the stamp was way too big for the roll, so I went the knot route. They were easy to make and looked quite cute.

    The crumb inside your kaisers looks fantastic.

  7. The rolls look great and yummy.:)

  8. I was going to get one of those stamps as well (but in metal) but sort of forgot on bake-day. Nevertheless, yours look great.

    I ended up doing both methods, but the knotted ones came out better looking, even if they did expand so that I couldn't tell that I had knotted them.

  9. These look exactly like the kaiser rolls of my youth (in the Delaware Valley), which never had shiny egg wash and always had cornmeal on both sides. I love that strange powdery texture and haven't been able to find them like that for years and years. I am just getting into bread making and have to try this recipe.


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