The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Kaiser Rolls

Kaiser Rolls

Kaiser rolls are great for picnics, sandwiches, and other summertime meals. The hardest part about making them is shaping them. If you want them to be perfect, order yourself a kaiser roll stamp. Or you can roll out the dough out and knot it the way Peter Reinhart suggests in The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Below I'll show you the technique I've found easiest.

The recipe I'm using is a cross between Bernard Clayton's recipe and Peter Reinhart's recipe. Peter's recipe uses a pre-ferment, the one I've listed below does not. You can adjust this recipe to use a pre-ferment quite easily: simply throw in some old dough if you want to use a pate fermentee. Or pull out a cup of the flour and 1/2 a cup of the water and 1/4 teaspoon of the yeast, mix them together, and let them sit out in a covered bowl overnight to create a poolish. Either technique will result in a more flavorful roll, but if you are going to be making sandwiches slathered in mustard or a sharp cheese, something likely to overwhelm the flavor of the bread, the extra work is probably not warranted.

Kaiser Rolls
Makes 8-12 rolls, depending on how large you like them
3 1/2-4 cups (1 lb.) bread or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon malt powder
1 tablespoon shortening, butter, or oil
1 egg
1 egg white
1 1/4 cups (10 oz.) water

Combine 3 cups of the flour and the other dry ingredients in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix in the water, eggs, and shortening. Knead by hand for approximately 10 minutes or 5-7 minutes in a mixer, adding more flour by the handful as necessary. The dough should still be tacky but not terribly wet. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour. Allow it to rise a second time for an hour before shaping. To shape the rolls, divide the dough into smaller pieces (if you are particular, use a scale to get them the same size). Roll the pieces of dough into balls and cover them with a damp kitchen towel so they can relax for 5 minutes.

To shape them, first I press them out into flat disks on a well floured surface (Clayton suggests using rye flour, though any type of flour will do). I let them rest, covered, another 5 minutes. Then I stretch the dough a bit thinner again and fold pieces up into the center.

Finally I press down in the center to seal it up tight.

I place them face down on a sheet pan covered with poppy seeds while they are rising for the final hour.

One could just as well let them rise face up and then spritz them with water and sprinkle the poppy seeds on, but doing it this way prevents the seals from splitting while they rise.

Preheat the oven to 450 during the final rise. Just before placing them in the oven, flip the rolls upright. You want to have steam in the oven when you bake them, so use whatever technique you prefer: squirting them with water, squirting the oven sides with water, pouring boiling water in a preheated cast-iron pan or a cookie sheet. These rolls take around 20 to 25 minutes to bake. I suggest rotating the pan once 10 minutes into it so they'll brown evenly.

Related Recipe: Potato Rosemary Rolls.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Here is one of those cultural things sneaking in so get ready. The traditional way to open a Kaiser roll in case you ever want to look traditional: Holding your roll with your thumb in the top middle of the roll, carefully stick your knife into the invisible seam going almost half way through, then rotate the bun while cutting (with a sawing action) around the seam. When cuts match, set down knife and twist the two halves apart. If your're lucky, a little nob or taster appears inside the bun in the middle. That's to be quickly snatched up and popped into your mouth, tester trophy before one gets serious about spreading butter or anything else. One of the little pleasures in life. :) Mini Oven

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

In Linz, Austria, a Kaiser roll sprinkled with anis seed is traditionally served before a meal following a funeral.  For this occasion they are made three times the normal size and big enough to cover an entire soup bowl! Hot soup is then served when about half the roll is consumed.  Delicious!  Simple and tasty.  Mini Oven

prairiepatch's picture

Hello Minioven,

I love the cultural connection.  I think that is so interesting.  So if you made some kaiser rolls with anis seed and served it to guests would that be considered rude or bad luck or something?  Would that tradition only be in Austria or would it extend down into Germany?  I ask these questions because my Husband and his family are from Berlin.  I'd love to shake things up by serving them anis seed kaiser rolls the next time we are all together. I know I'm a trouble maker. ;o)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Seems it's Austrian.  But if you can't make a perfect kaiser roll, no problem, the Berliners can't either and just roll up the dough and make a "Schrippe" out of it.  :)

Mini O

Mep62's picture

I am getting ready to try these rolls but can't find the malt powder here in TN. So I went to the KA site and found 3 kinds of malt powder, diastatic, non-diastatic and malted milk powder. Does anybody know what one I am to use with these rolls here?


Floydm's picture

The malt powder I have (and used for this recipe) says Dry Barley Malt Powder. It doesn't say diastatic or non-diastatic and, truthfully, I don't know the difference. Perhaps someone with more experience with malt can enlighten up.

demegrad's picture

Where did you get the malt powder? If you bought it from KAF I thought they always specify which it is. But if you got it from some other source like a home beer brewing type store and it is not specified it's diastatic. The malt powders are sprayed during drying so they only require temperature around 120-130 degF to be dried. Additional heat can be used to destroy any enzyme activity but for beer brewing additional enzymes are pretty much always beneficial and will eventually be destroyed during the boil anyway. This whole question relates very closely to the issue of whether to scald or not to scald milk. Reading my KAF baking book, they typically recommend scalding milk because the flour has enough enzymes to do the work and if you add enzymes with the milk then you may be speeding up the whole process of breaking down starches and therefore overfeeding your yeast which will prevent you from being able to have that long slow rise we're always looking for, and I think it might also make it more likely you will overproof and end up with a fallen loaf. But in small batch baking, I think it would be hard to tell a huge difference, I've definitely made dough without scalding the milk with no negative effects. But if your concerned just mix the malt powder with the water and follow whatever milk scalding procedure you typically use. Hope this helps.


Floydm's picture

I found my malt powder at Wild Oats, which is a chi-chi grocery store chain like Whole Foods.

Paddyscake's picture

There is no milk in this recipe.....

sphealey's picture

The poster above was pointing out that both diastatic malt and milk contain enzymes that can overactivate yeast. That is why recipes with milk call for scalded liquid mik, dry milk, or yoghurt.


For what my experience is worth, when I read "malt" in Rose Levy's recipes I ordered some diastatic malt from King Arthur. When I read her ingrediants section carefully I found out that unless she said "diastatic malt", she meant non-diastatic. So I ordered some of that that! (one package lasts a long time).


The results didn't differ much, but I preferred the diastatic malt in the end. The non-diastatic malt was really just an intense sugar and made the final dough too sweet for me.  YMMV.



Paddyscake's picture

TY sPh

demegrad's picture

Exactly right.  If you find yourself using the stuff a lot you might consider ordering some from a beer brewing supply store or you might have one in your town.  It runs a little bit cheaper not much and all things considering you only really need to diastatic malt around because you can also "scald" it by mixing the powder with some of the water of the recipe and gentl y heating it.  My personal opinion since I only really have time to bake about once or twice a week, is that I use whatever I have available to me at the time.  I do like to stick to recipes as close as possible but for me baking is a hobby with some great benefits, it's cheap and makes great food.  But that's me, nothing wrong with going all out, more power to anyone who does.


Mep62's picture

So in the end for this recipe the diastatic malt would be the best choice and give the best results?

demegrad's picture

I'm still learning the best ways to navigate this site, actually it's quite easy but I guess I haven't decided the way I like the best. As for your question about in the end what is the best choice for malt powder / syrup. I would say buy diastatic malt so that you just have to buy one product. If your recipe specifically calls for non-diastatic malt then just mix the diastatic malt powder with some of the water from the recipe and scald it like you would milk. But that's if you speicifically only want to buy one product. If your willing to buy whatever but just don't know what to use if it is not specified in the recipe, my rule of thumb is to use diastatic malt for bread recipes that only use a single rise or relatively short rising periods (mainly straight dough breads), but use non-diastatic malts for breads that are leavened by sourdough starters or at least use a pre-ferment like poolish or so on. My reasoning is that I've noticed a much nicer texture, mouth feel, and taste when I leaven bread entirely by my sourdough starter, and I've sure one of the reasons for that is that the enzymes in the wheat flour have enough time to break down the complex carbohydrates to simplier carbohydrates. So for straight dough type breads a little extra enzymes would be great because these types of breads if not made with additional flavors tend to taste to startchy. Almost like eating raw flour, which is far and above the most noticeable difference between good bread and the crap you get at the grocery store ( in my opinion ). There are many other reasons to make bread at home and many subtle flavors which come out from long rises but I think this change in texture and taste that I've described for me is the most objectively noticeable characteristic.


Mep62's picture

Thanks for the great answer!! This helps me greatly as I plan tp make these rolls the first time just as it is and then Poolish over a two days retarded in the fridge. I am just a fool for the long fermentation flavor. So the 2nd go around I should use non-diastatic because of the long ferment and this first time out making this as written use diastatic. This helps me out. I really don't like to make mistakes my first time out because I don't use the right stuff.


guerrillafood's picture

In the recipe it calls for Bread or Unbleached AP flour. I am assuming King Arthur's is a great brand for this. But in all the pictures, the dough balls seem to have brown, grey, and dark flecks in the dough and scattered on the work surface. It looks to me like whole wheat flour.

Am I missing something?


flournwater's picture

One of the local Health Food Stores in our area carries Barley Malt in bulk form in one of those sections where all the bins of healthy grains are stored.

If you've got a local health food store, give that a try.

alco141's picture

Malted milk is a powdered food product made from a mixture of malted barley, wheat flour, and whole milk, which is evaporated until it forms a powder.

Malt powder comes in two forms: diastatic and non-diastatic. Diastatic malt contains enzymes that break down starch into sugar; this is the form bakers add to bread dough to help the dough rise and create a good crust. Non-diastatic malt has no active enzymes and is used primarily for flavor, mostly in beverages. It sometimes contains sugar, coloring agents, and other additives

alconnell's picture

Beautiful Kaiser rolls, and something that has been evading me for a  long time.  I'm anxious to try.  One question: is the egg white part of the recipe, or used for a wash?

Floydm's picture

The egg white is in the roll.

mommymissy's picture

thanks for the great recipe and pixs...the step by step directions are what convinced me to try this recipe.   I am new to the yeast bread biz, but have attempted some over the years with mixed results,  but recently made Malassadas (portuguese donuts) for my daughter's class and they were so wonderful, I felt the need to try again with other yeast dough, so  this brings me to the kaiser rolls, I'm never really sure how wet a dough should be so did the best I could there, I followed all of your directions and was doing well up until the final rise.  The rolls looked alittle flat (not rounded)  they puffed up alittle during baking and browned nicely, but not the same color as yours.  Mine also had no shine, dull actually.  Any pointers would be helpful.

Thanks  again

galegal's picture

Before moving to NC I looked far and wide for a working recipe for kaiser rolls...without luck. I was not going to leave NY without it but moving day came and here we are.

This recipe works! I used the pre-ferment and malt powder from a home brew store and am now able to share my rolls with all of my Yankee transplant friends. Thank you for posting this!

nbicomputers's picture

As a retired pro baker i will try to shed some light on this

first malt is a yeast food and can be replased with an ounce for ounce with sugar.  The black spots look like poppy seeds but they should not be in the dough

here is a small mix for these rolls cut down from the 70 lbs of flour that i used in the bakery. note all ing are in weight

sugar 1 oz

oil 3/4 oz

eggs 3\4 oz

salt 1/4 oz

water 8 0z

cake yeast 1 oz

hi gluten flour 1 lb

this is the only Sir Lancelot Hi-Gluten Flour you can buy in small quanity (personaly i buy All trumps by the 50 pound bag for my home since i uste to but the 100 pound bags for my bakery about 3 or 4 a week)

This is the highest-gluten flour (14.2% protein) available on the retail market today. It's a must-have for lusty, extra-chewy artisan breads, and breads made with lots of whole grainsdo not use patent bread flour which only has 12-13 percent proten

crumble yeast in flour and set aside __is using powered yeast disolv in water but cake yeast is best

with cake yeast put all in mixer with water add the flour and yeast mix on top of the water and mix in a kitch aid type mixer with hook and mix for at least 12 minutes till smooth

if powdered yeasy then put all in bowl and add the water yeast mix on top of the flower so the yeast does not come in direct contact with salt. 

bake with steem in oven by spraing oven with water and placing a dry pan on the bottom ov oven wnet you put the rolls in the oven add water to the dry pan to get a large burst of steem in the oven and close the door fast.

then spray the rolls 5 minutes and then 5 mintes after that and 5 minutes later remove the pan of water.

shapping them is involved but simply put your thumb on a round piece of dough and then fold the dough over your thumb 4 times creaseing the dough hard each time without moving your thumb take the last section and give in a twest and place it in the space that your thumb was in and press it in hard to prevent it from opening during the baking.

mkelly27's picture

Thank you for your reply, I look forward to hearing /learning much from you.  It is not often we get theperspective of a veteran professional baker here on our humble bread board.  What region of the country do you hail from?



Redundancy is your friend, so is redundancy

nbicomputers's picture


The home of the bagel

nbicomputers's picture

things i forgot to mention

the rolls in the picture look good BUT they baked blind meaning that the folds baked connected and did not bloom like a kiser roll should.

WHEN MAKING UP THE ROLLS USE LIGHT RYE FLOUR FOR DUSTING YOUR WORK BENCH the rye floue will help keep the folds apart and will result in a better bloom and a better looking roll with 5 nice looking sections

the same dough is uset for salt sticks and onion rolls  for onion rolls just round and flatten in a mix of dry miniced onion soked in warm water and drained then add a little oil and seeds.  for a real bakery taste use the dry onion as i have said (since that is what the bakeries use.  Not Fresh chopped.

salt sticks flaten a piece of dough strech one end wider then the other and roll up as a cresent roll and top with carraway seeds and salt

only spray the oven once for the salts and onion cause the heavy steam will melt the salt and prevent the onion topping from drying which will keep the roll from getting any kind of good color

dmwilson's picture

 Your method works great!  It took me two batches to get them to look right, but I made it OK this time.  Steam proofing was by throwing a big handful or crushed ice into a skillet on the lowest oven rack, with the stone right above it.  The stone only has about 1-1/2 or 2 inch clearance all around it, so the steam filled the top of the oven quickly.

Here is one photo, of my second attempt.  You will notice there are only nine.  I made ten, but one of them was small and ugly -- a 'Hunchback of Notre Dame' sort of kaiser roll.  I was forced to eat it right away to keep it out of the picture.

Kaiser rollsKaiser rolls


"If it's tourist seson, why *can't* we shoot them?"

nbicomputers's picture

see my blog there is a pic of my rolls and a vid showing hpw to shape them

kris.magerko's picture

so not to sound stupid but i grew up in new york and loved to go to the deli and get a buttered roll for breakfast.  is this the recipe for that?  i'd love to try to make them as i now live in south dakota and they don't have deli's here




Elagins's picture

crackly crust, soft inside. great buttered or with a fried egg and a piece of melting american cheese.

Stan Ginsberg

Lorelei's picture

I've been using all kinds of recipes from the internet for years but have never been compelled to leave feedback or comments until now.  These were the very best rolls I've ever made (and I've used LOTS of recipes).  Thank you very much for sharing this!

eldil's picture

"Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise until doubled in size, approximately 1 hour. Allow it to rise a second time for an hour before shaping. "

 Sorry, but I am just confused about the second rest. After it has doubled in size, should I scale the pieces and then let rest an hour and then shape? or let double in size for an hour/ rest an extra hour?



nbicomputers's picture

in my bakery we only alowed one rise and then scaled the presses  (about 6-7 lb  each press would be cut into 36 pieces in a roll diveder.) we would make about 18 -20 presses a batch so 20 times 36= 720 rolla

the reason is the dough would continue to ferment durning the time it would take to make-up the rolls

in the home allow the dough to rise once and punch back alow the dough to rest about 20-30 minutes depending on the temp. cut the dough into pieces between 1.5.and 3 oz wieght depending on the size you want dust the dough and the work bench with white (light) rye flour which will prevent the shape from baking toghter (Blind) flaten the dough piecen and place your thumb on the flatend piece and fold about 1/3 if the piece over your thumb and hit the dough with the side of your other hane to creat the fold with out removing your thumb then repeat folding the dough piece over your thumb again till you have doen this 4 times ...then take ouy your thumb and give the remaining section of dough a twest and tuck it in to the space left by your thumb and pressit in fermly so it will be lockrd in place and will not open when baking.

proff upside down till 3/4 proff and then turn over on a peel dusted with cornmeal or a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal and bake with lots of steam for the first 5 minutes

the rye flour will keep the flods seperate and the steam will cause the bloom to make a perfect looking roll 

ps: if you do not want to use seeds proff the made-up rolls on canvas or a cookie cloth that has been wet with water and wrung out, you can also dust the cloth with rye flour so the plain rolls will not stick

also if you use a cutter to shape (stamp) the rolls you should proof the rolls right side up NOT UPSIDE DOWN xovered with plastic or other air tight cover to prevent the rolls from getting a skin prior to baking. which will prevent the rolls from springing in the oven.

i could go on but ...

RFMonaco's picture

Thanks for your experience! I will be trying that expertise soon!

berley88's picture

Having had my own hand rolled bagel shop in northern nj, we used to get our rolls from Rockland in Long island.  I am getting ready to try your recipe and am excited.  I'm in the south and can't find a good kaiser roll.  If I ever get around to opening a bagel shop down here I'd like to bake my own kaisers.  Could I use a "mini rack oven with Steam" to do that or do I need my big bagel oven equipped with steam too?  Now, this is definitely premature. Haven't even baked my first batch at home.  Thanks.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Ok, I did squish 5 onto a tray.  This is a steam oven that gets up to 250°C with convection.

eldil's picture

thank you, I will now be able to try this recipe risk-free!

nbicomputers's picture

sorry for my poor keyboard skils  which result in tons of errors but i hope my 30+ years working in the baking bis makes up for some of that.

ps please post some pics of finished product i havent had the time to post pics yet vut i will and if there is a way i will make a video of the bakery way to shap these rolls as well as the way i was taught to braid by a at the time an older jewish baker who i might add was a very tough teacher who used to hit me when i did not get it right.

but that was ok taking for granted that i learnd the hard way starting as a pot washer and then being taught by a man that had a number tatooed on his arm.

dougirv's picture
Great looking rolls, and as I have a very good starter on the go, just might try those......Old Doug on Vancouver Island
ltnhawk's picture

I am new to Bread Baking I tried this recipe and the Flavor is great. However even though the dough had what seemed a good rise when I baked it the center did not puff as it should. Any ideas as to what went wrong?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

 one stamped and three hand formed

These don't look puffy in the middle

Mini O

weidmon's picture


I am from Germany, and I grew up on Kaiser rolls. You find them in every single bakery there .

And let me tell you, your rolls look EXACTLY like the original German ones.



kitchen roach's picture
kitchen roach

Ohne Semmeln in Deutschland geht nichts, und diese sehen super lecker aus...!  Bin ganz Deiner Meinung.  Ich versuche gerade mich zurecht zufinden am und wollte eine oeffentlich Stellung beziehen.  Ob ich das gerade mache?


Dlgobeli's picture

I've tried this recipe twice and both times came out with great results.  Thanks for the great recipe!

themaltesebippy's picture

These are so good.  I just ordered a kaiser roll stamp to make them more pretty.

sewcial's picture

So many people are making lovely Semmel or Kaiser Rolls and I have been practicing folding and shaping. While my folding and shaping can use a bit more practice, my real concern is with the actual recipe. I can't tell from the beautiful photos whether the inside is what I taste in my mind when I recall Semmel from our days of living in Augsburg. ... light airy tender melt-in-the-mouth crumb with a thin crispy crust.. 

I have made two attempts from Daniel Leader's (Local Breads) Rosetta Rolls. He says they are an offshoot of the Kaiser rolls of Bavaria. He uses a large amount of Biga with just a little more flour and water added the next day with a bit of salt and diastatic malt.

I followed the recipe exactly on my first batch, but ended up with little tight round dinner rolls with a tight crumb. He said to retard the dough several hours in the refrigerator...after shaping, but without proofing. Then he bakes without proofing. I thought that could have been an error in his book, so today I made another attempt and varied from his recipe, using the slap and fold kneading technique and raised them at room temperature according to instructions in another recipe. They were raising and spreading out so nicely, but in the oven they  tightened up and became, once again little round dinner rolls with a chewy crumb and a crunchy curst. My husband says they are delicious, but they are NOT Semmel.  

I used steam in the oven both times, using ice cubes in a cast iron pan, the method endorsed by Leader.

I am ready to try a different recipe as soon as I get my digital scale...which is ordered and coming soon. I have found a few recipes through web searches, some calling for oil or butter, milk and egg whites.

The recipes here also call for eggs. Are they necessary to the light crumb? I intend to try a new recipe as soon as my digital scale arrives. I doubt my measurements can be off, but I guess anything is possible. My old scale is a spring one without the precision of a digital.

If anyone can help, I would appreciate trying a new recipe. I am saving the two recipes in this thread as well as the one from King Arthur Flour. I also have found a few more on other recipe sites, but don't have reviews of them. Some call for stiffly beaten egg whites in the dough. 

My husband says I'm fixated, but I can't stop until I make *real* Semmeln. Any tips on which recipe has the fine light crumb and thin crispy crust? Any other tips for making them turn out right?

I will really appreciate any help. I can't seem to move on to anything new until I master these Semmeln. 

dmsnyder's picture

Hi, sewcial.

First, welcome to TFL!

Second, I want to reassure you that your behavior is entirely normal. In fact, it would be regarded as a sign of emotional health and good character in this community. Of course, we may all be nuttier than a fruitcake. (Use the TFL search engine to find recipes for fruitcake.)

Third, Norm's (nbicomputers) recipe found above in this topic makes super kaiser rolls. The best discussion of it is probably in the topics pertaining to Onion Rolls, which use the very same dough. Floyd's entry on onion rolls has links to a number of other topics. I'd suggest reading them and coming back with any remaining questions.

This topic has a clear recipe and instructions for the onion rolls. Obviously, the shaping is different. Note that the proofing is also different. I suspect how you are proofing your rolls may be part of your problem.

Norm made a video of shaping kaiser rolls, using the authentic technique. I'd suggest you view it also.

I hope this all helps. Please update us on your progress and do ask any other questions you have.


sewcial's picture

Hi David,

I have watched Norm's (nbicomputers) video several times and I've saved a little piece of dough to continue practicing his technique. I havn't quite mastered the slamming of my hand edge down on the dough without flattening out my former fold...LOL.  Of course, before I found that, I bought a Kaiser roll stamp, too, so if my technique doesn't satisfy me, I can resort to that.

I'll check out the other links, too. Unfortunately, my new scale is not here yet, so I have to wait for it before I try his recipe with the precise ounces. Secondly, I'm having eye surgery early Mon. morning, so I suppose I won't be doing any kneading or slapping of dough for several days, not to mention my ability to focus my eyes will be poor for a while. I had planned to master this before the surgery.

I wonder if anyone has ever tried an egg substitute in a bread recipe. I was so hoping to show off my rolls to my daughter, but she has recently had to go off eggs and dairy until she weans her infant son who is highly allergic and the eggs and milk were getting to him through her milk. This will probably be another year before she can eat normally again. I've been researching egg substitutes, but not sure how well they work for yeast bread. 

I will keep a watch on this thread. Hopefully, I'll soon be trying another batch.

sewcial (aka Catherine)

dantortorici's picture

I am on a similar journey, Catherine. 

There was a Kaiser roll in my childhood memory that certainly looks like Norm's rolls but the inside was much different. Light and airy with a more open crumb. Like you, I am looking for the right recipe/technique to recreate these.

Been thinking about a slow fermentation, making it go overnight. 



sewcial's picture

Dan, Yes, I remember a much lighter more open crumb, too.

I am experimenting right now. I will make notes and take pictures as I go and will report once I find the right formula. It may be some days and several batches before I have much to report. Daniel Leader's formula used a biga as most of the dough. It fermented overnight in the fridge and had only a tiny bit more flour added the day of baking. I was not happy with it. They raised up round, but had a very tight crumb and chewy crust. 

I'll report back if I come up with something that works. I'll look for you to do that same.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

If you want to remove the egg white and milk then by all means do so.  You can also use a baguette recipe.  I like making a 100% hydration overnight poolish.  The folds are easier with a lower % hydration but I encourage a softer dough for the more open crumb.  You might want to add some fine spelt flour for softness, like 20% of the total flour weight but this can also make for a softer crust.  I like the crust egg shell thin and just as crispy.

Semmeln are easy to overproof.  Warm weather especially tricky.  I don't have room in the fridge,  I rigg my open plastic suitcase (high rim) with a wrung out wet towel stretched over it to keep the dough cool & stretchy.   Easy to flip over rolls too or use a mister  (not a missus or a barn shovel.)

Semmeln, like baguettes, don't keep very long and are best warm right from the oven.  After cooling, don't bag in plastic but group in a net, basket or in thin paper.


sewcial's picture

Mini, I like the idea of using a baguette recipe. I baked only 4 rolls from today's recipe and put the rest in the fridge to see how it will be with an overnight ferment. The rolls were lovely and tender, but the crust was tender, but it was not the egg shell thin crispy one you describe.  That will be my next try. Do you have a specific recipe using the poolish as you describe? If not, I have Local Breads, The Breadbaker's Apprentice so I can choose one from either of those and try for that perfect crust.The crumb of today's rolls was not quite right either. It was very tasty and tender, but I believe the egg and oil gave it a different texture. In the next couple days, I will attempt the baguette formula. Thanks for the tips.


sewcial's picture

I have been trying so many different Kaiser and Semmel recipes with varying results. I won't post all the photos and gory details because I've lost track of which results belong to which recipe. MY FREEZER RUNNETH OVER with my attempts. I think some French toast is in order, maybe even some bread pudding.

The recipes with egg, oil and sugar were too soft like a dinner roll. The more basic doughs produced heavy tight crumb with a gray color and chewy crust,not at all like the pictures and descriptions in the books. My DH says they tasted great, but I know they were way too heavy and most of them were varying shades of gray or gray streaked. 

I was really getting discouraged. Some were more gray than others. Some just had gray streaks. I was perplexed. To make matters worse, my web site was hacked and I couldn't bake for 3 days while I struggled to fix that. Now I am back to bread and have some good news.

Finally, for a break, I made Peter Reinhart's Whole Wheat Cinnamon Buns from his Whole Grain Breads book. What a comfort to have something come out just right. I even made a second smaller batch using an egg substitute to accommodate allergies of family coming to visit. They, too, were perfect and you can't really tell I used an egg substitute. The pan on the right have no egg, but a concoction I made up to simulate egg in baked goods. 

cinnamon buns_BBA

Encouraged by that success, I turned my efforts back to Semmeln. I found a blog by one member who is doing the BBA Challenge and she had the most beautiful Kaiser rolls.


She said she used the stretch and fold method of non-kneading. Based on her photos, I had to try it. I got wonderful results. I did not use the egg wash, though, because that would make the crust soft. The crumb was delightfully light. The flavor was out of this world. I was in Heaven! DH laughed as I made exclamations with each bite.

Here are my successful Semmel, very high, very light.

yesterday's batch

The only fault I could find was that the crust softened on cooling and was just the tiniest bit chewy. I emailed Peter Reinhart and he suggested I spritz them with plain water only (I was using a bit of corn syrup in the water) and to bake a little slower. So I made another batch today and made one more change to his recipe. I changed the one whole egg to 2 egg whites. I believe it did make the crumb even a bit softer and lighter. I'm not sure if it contributed to the lightness of the crust, but I think it might have.

I am still not happy with my folding technique and am not really happy with the stamp, either. I am experimenting with how deeply to cut it. Either I cut right through and it looks as distorted as a badly folded roll or the lines disappear in the oven. I like Reinhart's knotting technique and the rolls are fairly uniform and tidy looking. Although the high dome is sort of impressive, the lower tops are nicer for sandwiches. For breakfast, I break off pieces and slather them with butter...mmmm.

I made two batches today so I could experiment once again with the eggless recipe. My egg substitute seems to work well.  if anyone is interested. just ask and I'll share my formula for that.

The rolls are huge; wish I had put something in the photo for perspective.

Today's batch

The eggless ones came out just as beautifully. The rack on the left have no egg, but the substitute I concocted. I cut one to compare the crumb (left has no egg; right has egg whites in recipe). They were almost as light and airy as the ones with the 2 egg whites. I am happy that I can share the fruits of my labor with my daughter who loves all things home made.

crumb comparison

We had the most delicious BLT sandwiches for lunch and I was in heaven. I should have cut the sandwich to show the thickness of the roll and the 3/4" thick tomato, but I thought it would hold together better while eating if it wasn't cut.

My BLT lunch

Now I think my problem with the other rolls and breads might have been the kneading. Leader requires his doughs to endure long vigorous kneading cycles in the machine. I wonder if that was what turned my crumb to a chewiness that bordered on rubber. I think I will be a big fan of the fold and rest method now. I'd like to try Leader's recipes using that technique and see if I have some success, but Reinhart's formula is so nice that it will be hard to try another.

I have a pre-ferment ready to make the BBA French Bread tomorrow to see if my success follows across recipes. I am hopeful.

Claverackbread's picture

Thank you for posting the history of your quest. I believe I'm missing something: have you posted the final recipe that worked best for you? Thanks.



sewcial's picture

I apologize for not checking in for such a long time.  I have had children and grandchildren visiting and just lost track of this thread.

The recipe I finally used was the one from The  Bread Baker's Apprentice.I was inspired by the blog of another poster with photos showing how big and light they were. I decided to follow her method of folding and resting rather than vigorous kneading. It worked beautifully and I am a convert to that method.

However, I think, now, that my original problem may not really have been in the kneading, but in not proofing long enough or fermenting too quickly. Perhaps my kitchen was warm or my yeast very active, but they would rise up before the suggested time and I thought they were ready to bake. I am now having success with other white breads, too. So, whatever I was doing wrong, I don't seem to be doing it now. I'm happy with the breads, but we are still trying to use up the "less than perfect" loaves in the freezer.


peppy's picture

wow, those do look very tasty, especially that BLT sandwhich.

Mep62's picture

I have been making norm's rolls now since it's post. I too was having a fit shaping but my wife who is here right from austria loves them and would have me bake them daily. I think she was the bigest help as she would say no matter how they look they still tased better then any roll we could ever by here in TN, since this is a bread challaged state to say the least. Since we moved from Buffalo NY we have had to drive 20 to forty miles just to buy bread would even think to eat. The Fresh Loaf has been the greatest help to me and I would like to thank everyone here that has help me and inspired me but the biggest thanks has to go to OLD NEW YORK City NBIComputers  for the best ever Semmel. I say this because I bake them most everyday it's simple yep sometime they look ugly but they Tast sooooo Goooood and oh ya the kuemmel wick rolls are fantastic made from these. I was in pure heaven from the first bit of that roast beef with fresh horshradish one my wick version of his rolls I would give this the big thumbs up x10

BTW when they come out a little ugly my wife just tells me thats how you know there a hand made semmel *LOL*


Thanks soooo Much !!!!!!!

nbicomputers's picture

check out this you tube video I posted a while back

and this blog post that has a picture of my rolls

coffeedog's picture

I live in a small town and it is a 50 mile drive to any stores that ould have malt powder. I have learned to adapt, improvise aand overcome. Use beer instead of water and skip the Malt powder. Crispy crust, perfect texture and great flavor. What else can I say...

alco141's picture

i am a beginning baker and wanted to get the right malt powder i found this on wiki as to what is malt powder:


Malted milk is a powdered food product made from a mixture of malted barley, wheat flour, and whole milk, which is evaporated until it forms a powder.

Malt powder comes in two forms: diastatic and non-diastatic. Diastatic malt contains enzymes that break down starch into sugar; this is the form bakers add to bread dough to help the dough rise and create a good crust. Non-diastatic malt has no active enzymes and is used primarily for flavor, mostly in beverages. It sometimes contains sugar, coloring agents, and other additives



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Ouch, and I thought I'd make a good impression on my husband.  Wish I had made my rolls during the week where I could hide them or feed them to birds! 

I used old flour, it didn't taste rancid or anything, just sitting in the apartment all summer, last of the flour purchased April of this year.  The yeast too.  And the recipe made up with two tablespoons of flour to spare.   Never again!   The rolls were dense, hard and the crust was leathery.  They rose well, stayed within the time frames, sprung in the oven and looked good coming out of the oven, and while hot, pretty good tasting.  Then they cooled.  Sadly they will still get served with stew but no way can I call them kaiser rolls (Semmeln.)  I should have thought about it more and added milk to the recipe.  That might have saved them, maybe not.  :(   I got fresh flour and yeast, hear I go again...


Stephanie Rose's picture
Stephanie Rose

Hey there...I am in the middle of the rising stage.  When the recipe calls for a "second rise" does that mean punch it down, knead it, and let it rise again...or just let it go for two hours?

It has been rising for an hour now so if anyone knows and can respond quickly that would be great.

Thanks! Stephanie

mrfrost's picture

 For this particular recipe, yes, after mixing and kneading, the dough is allowed to rise for an hour or so until doubled. Then it should be punched down(more like gently degassed), then allowed to rise again for another hour.

Shaping will be after the second rise.

Elagins's picture

started with a medium vienna dough, let it ferment for 2 hours, shaped the rolls and brought them to full proof, then baked at 450 with lots of steam. Formula's gonna be in the book.

Stan Ginsberg


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

And I like the new look to your baker supply site as well!   Lookin' real good!


sandylaundry's picture

I made these with a 2/3 whole wheat flour 1/3 all purpose flour with added gluten and they were wonderful, I just added a tablespoon of gluten for every cup of flour. Didn't have any malt but will get some for next time, these were a hit!

ffolwell's picture

I have had Kaiser rolls many times in Austria and Germany and want to try to make them myself.  The crumb is different than Kaiser rolls I get in the U.S. - it is soft and maybe you could call it fluffy.  It does not have big holes like artisan bread nor does it have small bubbles like most breads.  I would call it almost cottony in appearance.  The flavor of these rolls (usually fresh at breakfast) is wonderful.  I look forward to trips to Austria just for the bread.

I have had other breads with similar crumb.  In the small town where my wife grew up (in Illinois) there was a bakery that made only one product.  You guessed it, Italian bread with a similar light crumb.  

I have learned a lot on TFL.  Making baguettes and ciabatta.

Many thanks if someone can give me advice.


Padraig538's picture

There is some great video on Youtube about shaping these rolls:     (just ignore the "packaged dough" part) :-)

Elagins's picture

that's Norm making kaisers the way they're supposed to be made.  The other two show double-knots. You can find full instructions for both in Inside the Jewish Bakery.

Stan Ginsberg

nafulton's picture

Great recipe and the steps for forming were so simple to follow.  I used rye flour for dusting when forming them, then topped with caraway seeds and coarse salt for a roll more like a weck.  The only ingredient I didn't have on hand was malt powder and I didn't make any of the suggested substitutions, but it didn't seem to matter.  We ate these with sliced roast beef and they were delicious!  Thanks again.

valerian's picture

Made me and my family very happy. I did few shortcuts like the 3rd rise was only 40min, because I could not wait any longer :) Still worked very well here is a picture form the result. 

bigloafer's picture

 I  saw diaslatic malt powder on amazon site,i was looking at the books they have there on bread baking. They have a one pound bag of it there for $9.00 . I do not know if that is a good price as i never bought it before. I just thought the info may help someone.

ceryni's picture

Hi people,

Im new so be gentle!


I'm a student at uni so I really don't have time to faff around fermenting and boiling and using eggs and this and that so I try my best to make bread with only 4-5 ingredients, this is my "Kinda Kaiser Roll" recipe (see what I did there? #Jamie Oliver) 

And these work great, I though of uploading a photo but it just looks the same as the OP and they're soft and gorgeous. Also the easiest and fastest recipe on the planet IMO


500g  bread flour

300ml of warm water (then add a teaspoon of sugar)

bid pinch of maldon sea salt

large swig of olive oil (1-2tbsp i don't exactly measure)

half - 3/4 of a sachet of fast action yeast which you get in a box of 8 sachets at the supermarket for 90p



Put your flour in a plastic mixing bowl (no clean space in a uni kitchen that you can use for 2-3 hours usually)

make a well and put your yeast in it and put your salt somewhere else in the flour, don't want to immediately salt your yeast. then swig your olive oil in there pretty much everywhere, I wasn't fussy
start mixing furiously as you pour all of your water in gradually, and you will end up with very wet sticky dough and a load of left over flour, just keep kneading and working, it'll all come together


oil your bowl and replace the dough. Then cover your bowl and leave in a warm plce for 30-60 mins, Again I wasn't exact, I played the first 3-4 chapters of ENSLAVED for xbox 360.

Separate your balls out into 6, do the kaiser folding thing and place face down for the final proof in a warm place for about 45mins - hour, (again I just kept on playing xbox until I knew the oven as at about 220*C)

I flipped them over and left them for another 20 mins to puff up again, disturbing them like that makes them get a bit sad.


Whack in the over until the tops are browning and you can smell lovely fresh bread, tap the undersides to make sure they sound hollow! 



THe easiest bread to make, and you only have a bowl, a spoon, and a floury tray to deal with


ceryni's picture

unfortunately you cannot edit posts on here!

The sugar should be one TABLESPOON

I usually warm the 300ml water in the microwave for 30-45 secs so it feels warm enough and then stir in the sugar before adding to the flour


Pastorjack's picture

I remember 50+ years ago in Brooklyn going with grandpa to Molly Fitzpatrick's (yeah Irish) to get the Kaiser rolls. I have been trying to duplicate them for years but to no avail. The rolls which I believe to be authentic look much like the ones in the photos above but not when they are cut open. My rolls were cut sideways and each side would get a generous amount of cool creamy butter. Then I would fold the roll and watch as thousands of crumbs would fall to the dish to be picked on later. Then it would get dunked in the coffee. The inside was doughy, unlike the dry looking one in the photo. You could pull clumps of dough from the roll before buttering. I made the best ones ever yesterday but still did not hit the mark.  Does anyone know how to make my perfect Kaiser roll? Thanks.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

If you up the malt (diastatic) in the recipe just a half teaspoon, you will get a more doughy middle like you remember, just make sure it is baked through.  I would stick to the recipe and keep the yeast and sugar the same.   Most of that middle is formed by the knife as it cuts into the roll.  If the roll is cut straight across, it looks dry, cut it open by rotating the roll cutting half way into the roll.  Try it and be delighted!  

Antilope's picture

Interesting to see the various ways Kaiser Rolls are shaped.
I like the method in the last two videos. The second version,
tying a rope of dough in a knot and tucking in the ends
also makes a nice looking roll.
**Using Kaiser Roll Stamp:
Shaping Kaiser Rolls
**Tying Rope of Dough into Knot and Tuck in the Ends:
Kaiser Rolls
**Flatten Dough into circle, fold over your thumb:
The right way to shape kaiser roll
Zubereitung von Kaisersemmeln (in German - forward to 2-minute mark for actual Kaiser roll forming)

tag1737's picture

Made these last night. Tried one with butter, awesome, Great taste and structure. I could not wait till mornig to have a fried egg and cheese on a Kaiser.

I'm going to make these part of my weekly baking routine.

I did not have the malt. I substituted an extra TBS of sugar. I use demerara sugar in most of my breads.

Shaping takes a little practice but the taste and crust were perfect.

jrarthur's picture

Made the Kaiser Roll recipe with excellent results.  Formed the rolls per the recipe directions, and also by knotting a thin log, with equally good results.  Dusted the counter with rice flour, and assume that semolina would be equally effective as they tend not to combine with the dough.  Because of dietary restrictions salt was not used, and no problems resulted.   I highly recommend this recipe.

btkdiva's picture

Made the kaiser rolls today and sadly they came out like hockey pucks.