kaiser rolls

I said recently that my health nut phase didn’t last long, and while I no longer stress about eating white rice or refined sugar, I do feel a little guilty buying white bread. There are some breads, mostly artisanal, that I prefer made with all white flour, but usually I like the flavor and nutrition of at least a portion of whole wheat flour.

I love Kaiser rolls for sandwiches, and Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice has some enticing pictures accompanying his recipe. The recipe follows Reinhart’s standard method of using a portion of pre-fermented dough to maximize the flavor of the final product.

The result, of course, was very good. But, there are a few changes I want to make. Mostly I want them to be a little sweeter. The only sugar in the recipe is just a bit of barley malt syrup. In the future, I’ll add honey or granulated sugar. Also, Reinhart’s photo looks like he used an egg wash or something, which he doesn’t call for in the recipe. His are so shiny and pretty, I think I might use an egg wash, or at least milk, next time.

Overall though, these were good, and fun. And with the whole wheat flour I added, just a bit healthier than what I would have got from the grocery store.

Kaiser Rolls (from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice)

Makes 6 large rolls or 9 smaller rolls (I made 8 rolls and thought they were pretty big)

Bridget note: Next time, I’ll add 2 tablespoons honey or 3 tablespoons granulated sugar to the dough. I’ll also brush the rolls with milk just before baking.

1½ cups (8 ounces) pate fermentée
1¼ cups (10 ounces) unbleached bread flour
¾ teaspoon plus a pinch (0.2 ounce) salt
1 teaspoon (0.11 ounce) instant yeast
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1½ teaspoons (0.33 ounce) barley malt syrup
1½ tablespoons (0.75 ounce) vegetable oil or shortening, melted
10 tablespoons to ¾ cup (5 to 6 ounces) water lukewarm

1. Take the paté fermentée out of the refrigerator 1 hour before making the dough. Cut it up into about 10 small pieces with a pastry scraper or serrated knife. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour to take off the chill.

2. Stir together the flour, salt, and yeast in a 4-quart bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Add the pate fermentée, egg, barley malt syrup, oil, and 10 tablespoons water. Stir (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) for 1 minute, or until the ingredients form a ball. If there is still some loose flour, add the remaining 2 tablespoons water.

3. Lightly dust the counter with flour, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook). Knead for about 10 minutes (6 minutes by machine), adding flour, if needed, to make a dough that is soft and supple, tacky but not sticky. The dough should pass the windowpane test and the internal temperature should register 77 to 81 degrees. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

4. Ferment at room temperature for 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size. If the dough doubles in size before 2 hours have elapsed, remove it, knead it lightly to degas it, and return it to the bowl to continue fermenting until doubled from original size or until 2 hours have elapsed.

5. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 6 to 9 equal pieces (4 ounces for large rolls, 2⅔-ounce pieces for smaller rolls). Form the pieces into rolls. Mist the rounds lightly with spray oil, cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and let the dough relax for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with baking parchment, lightly mist it with spray oil, and then dust with semolina flour or cornmeal.

6. Prepare the individual rolls by cutting them with a Kaiser rolls cutter or knotting them. To knot them, roll out a round of dough into a 12-inch strand (shorter for smaller rolls). Tie a simple knot. Loop the two ends through the center of the knot a second time (see pictures) Place the rolls, cut side down, on the parchment, mist lightly with spray oil, and loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap of a food-grade plastic bag.

7. Proof the rolls for 45 minutes at room temperature, then flip them over so the cut or folded side is facing up. Mist again with spray oil, cover the pan, and continue proofing for another 30 to 45 minutes, or until the rolls are double their original size.

8. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Uncover the rolls and prepare them for baking. If you want seeds on your rolls, mist them with water and sprinkle poppy seeds over the top. If not, just mist them with water.

9. Place the pan in the oven, spray the oven walls with water, and close the door. After 10 minutes, rotate the pan for even baking and lower the oven setting to 400 degrees. Continue baking until the rolls are a medium golden brown and register approximately 200 degrees in the center. This will take 15 to 20 minutes for large rolls, or less for smaller rolls.

10. Remove the rolls from the pan and transfer to a cooling rack. Wait at least 30 minutes before serving.

Pate fermentée

This is twice what you need for one recipe of Kaiser rolls.

1 1/8 cups (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/8 cups (5 ounces) unbleached bread flour
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon instant yeast
¾ cup to ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (6 to 7 ounces) water

1. Stir together the flours, salt, and yeast in a 4-quart bowl (or in the bowl of a standing mixer). Add ¾ cup of the water, stirring until everything comes together and makes a coarse ball (or mix on low speed for 1 minute with the paddle attachment). Adjust the flour or water, according to need, so that the dough is neither too sticky nor too stiff. (It is better to err on the sticky side, as you can adjust easier during kneading. It is harder to add water once the dough firms up.)

2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for 4 to 6 minutes (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook for 4 minutes), or until the dough is soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky. The internal temperature should be 77 to 81 degrees.

3. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 1 hour, or until it swells to about 1½ times its original size.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl, knead it slightly to degas, and return it to the bowl, covering the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight. You can keep this in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze it in an airtight plastic bag for up to 3 months.

I’m out of town this week, walking along the ocean and hiking around a lake. I’ll be back next week to catch up on comments and other blogs!


  1. Nice! Your pictures are fantastic and your sandwich looks mighty satisfying.

  2. these look beautiful! if we bbq burgers i’m always too late to remember to make some rolls. would love to make some that look as delish as yours do!

  3. Annie says:

    Oh my gosh, I love kaiser rolls. I’ll definitely be trying this recipe! Plus, it’s Peter Reinhart – you can’t go wrong!

  4. Oh wow! These look so great! Even better than to ones I get form the bakery. Totally using that bbq park recipe of yours, so I’ll make these too!!

  5. Wow – this look perfect!!! My husband would love these, maybe I’ll give them a try.

  6. Sexy looking buns you got there. 🙂
    I bet that sandwich was the best sandwich ever.

  7. Wow! Very impressive – I would love to try this recipe. Baking my own bread overwhelms me though…….

  8. I have made this recipe 4 times so far and am not satisfied with
    it – not fluffy enough for me and the pictures of the rolls in his
    book really do look like there is a glaze (cornstarch and water? milk?….) of some sort on them. Tried an egg white wash and did not have the same result as the picture. Your rolls are very pretty though. But def. want that shine –
    Have you since made them again? I used the “stamp” and they mostly look like they have a star stamped on them. I think the knotted method is better – although I may try the classic method next time. I love Kaiser rolls!!!!!!

  9. bridget says:

    Julie – I should definitely update this post, because I’ve made these rolls several times now, and to be honest, I have the same opinion of this recipe that you do. I’d like the rolls fluffier as well.