Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kaiser Rolls with the Babes

Yes, it's that day of the month when the Bread Baking Babes gather around the kitchen table and talk bread.

When the introduction to the month's bread includes and 'evil grin' you know that you're going to have fun.

The lovely Astrid of Paulchen's Food Blog, our Kitchen of the Month, brought us a lovely recipe for Vienna Bread from Peter Reinhart's Bread Bakers Apprentice book.

It makes a wonderfully soft and easy to handle dough, even when roughened up a bit with stone-ground whole wheat flour as mine was. (I used a cup of whole-wheat bread flour in place of a cup of regular bread flour. It's some that I got at the Bale Grist Mill. A recent article in the local paper indicates that the Mill might close due to State of California budget cuts so if you can get to Napa California on a weekend this summer do check it out before it's closed.)

Here is what Astrid had to say about the history of Vienna bread: Vienna bread is a type of bread that is produced from a process developed in Vienna, Austria, in the 19th century.

In the 19th century, for the first time, bread was made only from beer yeast and new dough (no old dough). The first noted or applauded example of this was the sweet-fermented Imperial "Kaiser-Semmel" roll of the Vienna bakery at the Paris Exposition of 1867. These sweet-fermented rolls lacked the acid sourness typical of lactobacillus, and were said to be popular and in high demand.
In 1867 the Paris Exposition was said to recognize the Vienna Bakery as, "First in the world."

In Vienna leaven is never used for making the rolls and small goods for which that city is famous. Viennese bakers use either brewers' yeast or a ferment, prepared by themselves, of which the basis is an infusion of hops.

Citation: Hugh Chisholm, ed (1910). The encyclopædia britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences ..., Volume 4. Retrieved 2010 Aug 20.

The Vienna bread-production process innovations are often popularly credited for baking with steam leading to different crust characteristics, however Horsford, in his 1875 Report on Vienna Bread, wrote:
The Austrian bakery in the Paris Exposition in 1867, for the production of loaf-bread, was provided with the steam-arrangement; but the oven of the Vienna bakery, on exhibition at the Vienna Exposition for the production of rolls, was a dry oven.

Peter's version does use 'old bread' so it's not completely authentic, but it is delicious. You can also skip letting the pâte fermentée sit overnight and use it after it has mellowed on the conter for two hours which will get you a bread closer to the authentic one, but the overnight wait really does enhance the flavor of the bread.

I really enjoyed this bread. The crumb is tight and the texture is very soft. Although I did use water in the pan and sprayed the oven and the rolls when they went in, I found the crust to be minimal, which was surprising. It was fun making the Kaiser shape. I've never made Kaiser rolls and had wondered how the top got that pleated look...it's easier than you might think. Astrid provides a great demonstation set of photos on her post. I guess I enjoy shaping dough and seeing what happens.

Do check out the other Babes' renditions of Vienna bread, too. Links can be found at the right. It makes good sausage rolls, too, a plus if you are doing a lot of cooking on the grill.

Here is what Astrid said about being a buddy:
The Bread Baking Babes are a closed group but we thought it would be fun to reward people who take the effort of baking our breads with us and give them a nice Buddy Badge and mention in a round up post every month. Just to say thank you for baking along and sharing your thoughts with us.

Since we are Babes and do no obey to rules, there are nearly no rules for Buddies, except these two:
1. Bake the featured bread, snap a pic & share your thoughts about how you liked it (or not liked it)
2. Send an email to the Kitchen of the Month to notify us and make it easier to write the round up

I'm sending this over to Susan at Wild Yeast for the weekly Yeastspotting round-up, too. Check it out if you love yeasted bread and things made with yeasted bread!

Peter Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice" Viennese Bread

Pâte Fermentée
makes 16-17 ounces

1 1/8 cups (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/8 cups (5 ounces) unbleached bread flour
3/4 teaspoon (.19 ounces) salt
/2 teaspoon (.55 ounces) instant yeast
3/4 cup (+ 2 tablespoons) (6-7 ounces) water, room temperature


Stir together salt, yeast and flours. Add 3/4 water mix on low speed with paddle attachment until everything comes together. The dough should be neither too sticky nor too stiff. When touched with finger it should stick to finger but be easily released (better stay on the stickier side than to be too stiff!)

Transfer dough on counter sprinkled with some flour. Knead until dough is soft and pliable (tacky, not sticky!) Knead for 4-6 minutes.

Oil your bowl and transfer dough to the bowl coating it with oil all around! Cover with plastic foil and let ferment until 1 1/2 swelled in size (about 1 hour).

Degas dough trough kneading lightly an d return to bowl again to go to sleep in the fridge over night.
I like to use an airtight plastic bag. You can store it up to 3 days in you fridge now.

Peter Reinhart says:
"You can also use this on the same day you make it, if you ferment it at room temperature for 2 hours instead of refrigerating it. Flavor enhances through the night in the refrigerator though,... "

Vienna Bread
makes two 1 pound loaves or 9-12 pistoles

2 1/3 cups (13 ounces) pate fermentee
2 2/3 cups (12 ounces) unbleached bread flour
1 tablespoon (.5 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (.25 ounces) diastatic barley malt powder
or 1 tablespoon (.75) barley malt syrup
1 teaspoon (.25 ounces) salt
1 teaspoon (.11 ounces) instant yeast
1 large (1.65 ounces) egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon (.5 ounces) unsalted butter or shortening ant room temp, melted
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons (6-7 ounces) water, lukewarm

semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting


1 hour before starting to make the bread: remove pate fermentee from fridge. Cut into 10 pieces. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap.

Let's start: flour, sugar, malt powder, salt and yeast go into the mixing bowl. Add pate fermentee pieces, egg, butter and 3/4 cups of water. Stir together until you have a nice ball. If your dough is rather firm or stiff, use a little more water, we want the dough to be soft at this stage.

Knead to knead: Knead for about 10 minutes on floured counter or on your machine with dough hook on medium speed for 6 minutes. Add flour if needed to achieve a firm but elastic dough (tacky not sticky).

Peter Reinhard says: "the dough should pass the windowpane test" - honestly I've never done this and it worked for me without this test... dough temp should range between 77° and 81°F.

Rest baby, rest: Transfer dough to lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Ferment at room temp for two hours or until doubled in size.

Punch it: When doubled in size, punch it down and return to bowl until dough doubles again.

Shape it, baby: Remove dough from bowl to counter and divide into 2 equal pieces for loaves. Or into 3 to 4 ounce pieces for pistolets (French split rolls). Shape larger pieces into boules (balls) and smaller ones into rolls. Mist the dough lightly with oil and cover loosely with plastic.

Rise, rise, rise: Leave to proof at room temp 60-90 minutes or until they have risen to approx. 1 3/4 of their original size.

Let's bake: Preheat your oven to 450°F and place an empty steam pan in your oven.
Just before baking mist the loaves or rolls with water and dust lightly with flour. Score loves and rolls down the center.

Steam it: Slide loaves or rolls onto baking stone or baking tray. pour 1 cup water into your steam pan quickly close oven door. After 30 seconds open oven door and spray oven walls with water, close again. Repeat twice in 30 sec intervals. After final spray lower heat to 400°F for 10 minutes. Rotate breads 180° for even baking. Continue baking until breads are golden brown.

Cool it: Remove breads or rolls from oven and let cool on cooling rack for at least 45 minutes before slicing or serving (if you can!)

I will probably do a loaf as stated above and a variation of it called "Dutch Crunch or Mottled Bread" - if any of you Babes is interested here is how:

Peter Reinhart says:
Dutch crunch is one of many names given to bread made with a special mottled topping. It doesn't refer to any particular formula, as the crunch topping can be spread on pretty any type of bread.

Here is how:
Whisk together, 1 tablespoon bread flour, 3/4 cups rice flour, 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast, 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and 6-8 tablespoons water to make a paste.
If it seems too thin to spread without running off the top of the dough add more rice flour. It should be thick enough to spread with a brush, but not so thick that it sits like a lump of mud. This makes enough for 2-4 loaves.

You can also easily make "Kaiser rolls" with this dough which is THE common roll here in Austria (especially Vienna)
The Kaiser roll, also called a Vienna roll or a hard roll (original name: Semmel or Kaisersemmel; if made by hand also: Handsemmel), is a kind of bread roll, supposedly invented in Vienna, and thought to have been named to honor Emperor Franz Joseph. It is a typically crusty round roll made from flour, barm, malt, water and salt, with the top side usually divided in a rotationally symmetric pattern of five segments, separated by curved superficial cuts radiating from the centre outwards. Kaiser rolls are often produced by machine, as well as by hand. You can see the details at Astrid's post on Vienna Bread.


  1. Elle, I've came to the conclusion that you make some of the most beautiful and delicious sounding breads I've ever seen, this one being no exception. Have youu ever thought about selling them or opening up a little artisan bakery? :)

  2. Lisa, you are so sweet! If I were to sell them it would be over the internet...an artisan bakery is far more work...and much too early mornings...than I'm interested in these days. I'll be sure to let you know if the internet sales thing happens.

  3. What gorgeous looking bread! And I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one to have added some whole grain to the mix!

  4. If I a real oven and not just a grill, I'd be baking this again today.
    Loved shaping those Kaiser's ;-) Yours are lovely and your loaf grabs me best.

  5. Beautiful Breads!
    And your petals stayed together nicely. Just gorgeous. ☺

  6. Love love loe your Kaiser Rolls! Wowo hand how that boule came out! Lovely!
    I am glad you liked it :)

  7. I love your 'roughened up' version! The loaf is beautiful.

  8. Oooo, gorgeous breads! I added half whole spelt flour to my preferment too and loved how it turned out too.

  9. Beautiful, beautiful! You've inspired me to try this one. I'm not baking much with white flour these days, but I seriously need to try these! Kudos on your roll shaping!

  10. Finally getting around in touring the Babe-Vienna breads. Compliments on your handfolded rolls. They look just perfect. I love that look more than the (easy) 'stamping' I must say. Got to make these again soon!