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Kaiser Rolls

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To make 4 Kaiser Rolls:

Combine the flour and the other dry ingredients in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix in the water, egg, and butter. Knead by hand for approximately 10 minutes, 5-7 minutes in a mixer, or 1 minute in a food processor, adding more flour by the handful as necessary. The dough should still be tacky but not terribly wet. Let it rest for 5 minutes, then knead it again for another 5 minutes by hand, 2-3 minutes in a mixer, or 1 minute in a food processor.

Place the dough in a bowl greased with olive oil or butter and turn it so it's coated, cover it and allow it to rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour. Knead for 30 seconds and allow it to rise a second time for another hour before shaping.

There are several ways to make the Kaiser roll's distinctive shape. You can use a floured Kaiser press if you have one, or you can roll your portions of dough out into thin sausage shapes and tie them in lovely knotted patterns. I do not do either of these.

the first disk
four disks

To shape the rolls, I divide the dough into four and roll the pieces of dough into balls and cover them with a damp kitchen towel so they can relax for 5 minutes. Then press them out into flat disks on a well floured surface (rye flour recommended, though any type of flour will do).

Let them rest, covered, another 5 minutes, then stretch the dough a bit thinner again and fold the edges up and press them into the center to give the classic pinwheel shape.

the stretched first disk
the first fold
the second fold
all folded

Place them face down on a sheet pan covered with either the poppy seeds or the cornmeal, and cover them with wax paper while they rise for a final hour.

Pre-heat your oven to 450F during the final rise. These rolls need steam to give them the proper finish, so heat up a roasting tin when the oven is heating and boil a pot af water.

Just before placing the rolls in the oven, gently flip them upright, taking great care not to disturb their nicely risen puff, and pour your boiled water into your hot roasting pan; place that on the lower shelf of the oven and the tray of rolls in the middle. These rolls take around 15–20 minutes to bake. Rotate the pan 180 after 10 minutes to ensure even browning.

four disks