Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sandwich Time - Kaiser Rolls

In my last post I talked about using a 'starter' to give an added punch, so to speak, to your bread. The idea is that by forcing the dough to rise really slowly (overnight) it acquires a tangy flavor like sourdough. In fact, sourdough bread is made exactly this way with a 'starter' that ferments overnight, usually at room temperature. Another advantage of slowing down the 'proofing' time is that the texture also improves. In this case the final bread is much 'chewier' than a regular sandwich bread. This is much closer in style and substance to a European bread than an American bread. American bread in general, tends to be softer and richer (added sugar or eggs or oil). Whereas European breads, especially artisan type breads are much more frugal in their ingredient list. The pate fermentee (literally fermented dough in French) required is really a recipe for French bread and can easily be made into a baguette. In fact, if you recall that's exactly what I did last time. I simply made one batch the day before and fermented it overnight then added 'fresh' dough to the fermented dough. This resulted in exquisite baguettes, IMHO.

However, sometimes we want the full tangy flavor we get with the fermented dough without all of the chewiness that characterizes a baguette. This recipe is for a sandwich roll. It is tangy and sturdy (without being too chewy). The sturdiness will allow us to pile it high with all good things you put on sandwiches, smoked meats and cheeses, veggies and, of course, condiments and pickles. Yum!!

Here's what you'll need for the starter:
1 1/8 cups ( about 150g) AP flour
1 1/8 cups ( about 150g) bread flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp yeast
about 3/4 cups warm water

Here's what you'll need to do:
1. Stir together the flours with the yeast salt and warm water until you form a 'shaggy' dough.
2. Move the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for up to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth.
3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and let it rest and rise, covered until doubled. This will take about 2 hours at room temperature.
4. Gently de-gas the dough. Then return it to the bowl. Place the bowl, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day...
1. Remove the fermented dough from the refrigerator and cut it into about 10 pieces. Leave the pieces covered at room temperature for about an hour to warm up. 

Then add the following to 1 1/2 cups (about 230g) of the fermented dough...

2 1/4 cups (285g) AP flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1 large egg beaten (this is what enriches the dough and reduces the chewiness)
1 1/2 Tbs vegetable oil
10 Tbs (about 150ml) warm water

1. Stir together the flour, yeast, and salt. Then add the fermented dough, the egg, oil and water. Mix to form a 'shaggy' dough,. It is right when you can easily form a ball of dough.

2. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough until you have a smooth dough that is also soft and slightly elastic. This may take as much as 10 minutes.
3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and, covered, let it ferment at room temperature for at least two hours.
4. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into about 8 or 9 equal sized pieces. Form them into balls of dough, lightly mist them with spray oil, then cover and let them rest for about 10 minutes. Prepare a baking tray with parchment paper, also sprayed lightly with oil and then sprinkled with semolina flour or cornmeal.
5. Prepare each piece of dough by shaping it into a Kaiser roll shape. This is essentially a 'rosette' formed by making a snake of dough and then making a simple knot and wrapping the ends around the ring of dough.

6. Place the rolls on the baking tray, and let them 'proof', covered, for 45 minutes. Then, gently, flip them over, and let them 'proof' for another 30 to 45 minutes. They will double in size.

7. Preheat the oven to 425 F (about 220 C). prepare the rolls for baking by misting them with water. If you want to cover them with seeds now is the time, otherwise just spray with water.
8. Place the bread in the oven then spray the oven walls with water and close the door. After 10 minutes rotate the tray for even baking. Lower the oven temperature to 400 F (about 200 C). Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes. 

Cool on a rack at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.


  1. These rolls are so beautiful
    and looks verey tasty.
    Thank you

  2. they really are. A bit of work but so worth it.

  3. I love your blog and I want to make these, but I'm a little confused as to what to do with the remaining starter dough (fermented dough) - why am I making twice as much as I need? Do I just throw it out? or cultivate it into a sourdough starter?

    1. The fermented dough is called a 'biga' and is an Italian-style starter. It can be used to give a tanginess to bread and is especially used for rolls etc. (think ciabatta) that will hold cold cuts, mustard and all things tasty like that. The extra starter can be kept, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 or 3 days and then used in another bread. In France, they use 'pain ancien' (literally old bread - but really a biga). They save some of the unused dough from today's batch to use in tomorrow's batch, letting it ferment overnight! So, save it for another batch of bread 2 or 3 days from now!
      Hope this helps, and thanks, btw, for liking the blog.

    2. Thanks for the info - I will definitly give that a try sometime. The last time I tried making bread using a fermented dough dough (ciabatta), I was completely confused during the entire process, it took forever (36 hours) and in the end wasn't worth the effort. I had much better success with these Kaiser Rolls. Instead of storing the extra starter dough, I just doubled the amount of ingredients to add to the starter dough and used all of it instead of half. I also used clarified butter instead of oil. When it came time to shape the dough, I left 1/2 the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to give me time to bake two separate batches. Making these was a lot easier than I thought. The dough was very manageable and super easy to shape. I love the lightly crispy crust. They seem light and airy but are super sturdy. Thanks so much for sharing