Free Book Giveaway: Who Can Fix My Kaiser Rolls? (WINNER ANNOUNCED, SEE 3/11 POST ABOVE)


OK, I’m pretty happy with this photo, but… well, they aren’t really Kaiser Rolls.  I was on a “roll” from last week (sorry), when I thought my Brotchen were more than passable.  So I wanted to re-create another German roll style– the famous 5-petal Kaiser roll.  I have to say that even though the picture is pretty, the rolls didn’t retain the 5-petal shape that defines the Kaiser roll– it ended up as just a round, though beautiful and tasty roll. 

And so fellow bakers, I turn to you for help!  What did I do wrong?  Please make suggestions that help me perfect this beast, and I’ll send you a signed copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day to the winning suggestion (as judged, I’m afraid, by me).  If no one can help me, I’ll draw a random winner from all the responses.  OK, here’s what I did…

Just like last week, I mixed up a batch of our plain white-flour Master Recipe but made two variations:  First, put three egg whites into the bottom of the measuring cup before you measure out your three cups of water– so it’s three cups of liquid, including the three egg whites.  AND one other variation– I used the drier dough version that we specify in the book, in the recipe for Pain D’Epi.  Just use an additional half-cup of unbleached all-purpose flour.  If you don’t use the drier version of the dough, you won’t be able to make the folds that define the shape of the Kaiser roll. 

Preheat the oven with a baking stone near the middle of the oven to 450 degrees F for at least 20 to 30 minutes (place a broiler tray in the oven on any other shelf that won’t interfere with rising bread).  Cut off 3 to 4 ounce balls of dough (like a peach) and briefly shape them (as in our videos), then roll out to about a quarter-inch thick.  You should end up with a circle of dough about 7 inches in diameter.  Then fold one side of the dough over as shown here, pressing firmly to seal.  You’re going to do this a total of five times to make the 5-petal shape. 


The second fold includes about half the first fold…


… and so on, for the third fold…


… and the fourth fold…


Then you have to tuck the side of the fifth fold under the first fold, like so: 


          It looked like it would work, though I have to admit that I had my doubts when I took this picture.  I let the Kaisers rest on a silicone mat for about 60 minutes, though parchment would have been fine, or even cornmeal on a pizza peel.   I brushed with egg whites using a pastry brush and sprinkled with poppy seeds.  Then, onto the hot stone for about 25 to 30 minutes, depending on size.  Pour a cup of hot water into the broiler tray just before you close the oven door. 

The result was the perfect texture I remember from New York City delis, with the cruchy poppy seed crust somehow working perfectly for dipping into chili (my kids absolutely loved the combination).  But there’s this cosmetic problem.  Anyone able to help me?  There’s a free book in it if you can (U.S. entrants only, please).

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113 thoughts on “Free Book Giveaway: Who Can Fix My Kaiser Rolls? (WINNER ANNOUNCED, SEE 3/11 POST ABOVE)

  1. I’ve had the same problem with other Kaiser Roll Recipes. Then I found out that the bakeries use a Kaiser roll stamp. You can find them easily on the web. They run from k$4.39 up to about $25. They also come in plastic and metal and are approximately 3″ in diameter.

  2. Perhaps try using a sharp pair of scissors to snip the Kaiser petals into the top before baking. It should make the petals more pronounced and hopefully will carry them through baking.

  3. I have never used one, but my friend just ordered one from Amazon, $5.99 plus
    S&H and I will probably ‘borrow’ it before purchasing my own. The video link sent by Marianne was informative.

    Good Luck – waiting to see how it works out for you Jeff.

  4. Have you tryed forming a small ball, tucking the dough underneath, similarly to your basic artisan bread. Then just using a small pairing or small serrated knife, make a 5-petal incision, working from the center out. Or you can also use a pair of kitchen scissors to do the same thing.

  5. Hi,
    We have a similar bread in Portugal and though in bakeries they use a stamp, at home I always make a long snake-like shape, make a knot and then twist it back along the initial cord. When it rises it comes together in the midle filling the space left while twisting.
    I believe this way the “cosmetic” outcome is even better than the stamp ;P.
    I never fotographed it but I’ll try and find something online and send you.
    Good luck

  6. The stamp is exactly what I was going to say too. There is a local German Bakery that still makes the bread and rolls in the old dutch oven. They use the stamp too. I asked once how they got the 5 petal shape.
    I sure hope you try again so we can see those results.

  7. Some suggest shaping them the way you did originally and then proving them the second time face down, with the markings on the base, on a greased surface or silpat covered with poppy seeds and turning them upright just before baking.

  8. How about joining five small balls together into a circle then using the flat of the hand onto the top of the dough pushing down and turning? This is a wild guess!

  9. While you set the dough to rise, turn it upside down on the Silpat instead. This will make your cosmetic problem disappear. Buying a kaiser stamp isn’t a cop out, but…hmm…it might sit in your gadget drawer for longer than you wish for it to.

  10. My solution is pretty similar to just putting five balls together, but with a slight twist. I flatten the balls slightly and overlap them in a ring leaving a slight hole in the middle like a wreath. When it rises, the hole should fill in and the overlap helps the roll stay intact (I sometimes have problems with my clover rolls pulling apart).

  11. Don’t want to buy the stamp? Try using a razor blade to cut through the outer skin as you would a french loaf. Make five petals radiating from the center. Good luck–to you in the kitchen and to me in the drawing!!! I really want the book!!!

  12. Jeff,

    After rolling your dough into the 7″ circle, cut 5 slits from the outside edge to about 1/2″ from the center at a 30 degree angle so it looks like you were making a pinwheel. Grab the pointed end and twist as you bring it to the center. Repeat for the other 4. I just tried it and it looked pretty good.


  13. Hum… I have no suggestions 🙁

    I had to do search for kaiser rolls to find out how they look like. I think the most perfect ones are made with a stamp.

    P.S.: I am still hoping you will pick a random winner, it would increase my chances 🙂

  14. Yay!!!
    My dad makes the Kaiser rolls all the time, the way he done it is to make a knot from a long rope, after making a knot in the middle, put both ends into the knots. This should give you five petals!! Let me know if your succeed in this methods! Best wishes, Jessica. :o)

  15. Jeff:

    If you would prefer not to use the stamp, I suggest using a french lame to slash the dough. It would allow for expansion into the 5 “petals.” You can determine the best angle and direction of the slash.

    Hope this suggestion helps with your Kaiser rolls.

    ~Karen B.
    McPherson, KS

  16. I turn my Kaiser Rolls upside down on a sheet pan sprinkled with poppy seeds. When it’s time to bake them, I flip them and they always hold their shape perfectly. I use a beaten whole egg, not just egg whites.

  17. Well, I would like to give my input, but I attempted to make basic french bread last night and failed miserably! I don’t know if I have a bad recipe (that’s what I like to think) or what, but the bread was hard as a rock when done baking. You will get no help from me…at least you could eat your rolls!

  18. Mm Kaiser rolls. it is a folding technique. Check out this YouTube video that shows it. The trick is keeping your thumb in the folded dough to tuck the final flap in.

    Johanna San Inocencio

  19. The U-Tube link that Johanna posted is it…that is “klopping” the rolls….exactly how George Greenstein explains it in his book…thats the old fashioned way of doing it. He explains that there were men sitting in the old bakeries klopping rolls which were baked several times a day. It is fascinating…it is that “klop” that keeps it together.

  20. to do my rolls, I rolled the dough into a circle, then made six cuts for a pinwheel. i put one corner of each into the middle of the circle. i then took the other pinwheel point and pushed it into the circle.
    came out looking pretty good.
    my husband thought the rolls tasted quite good also. he described as being crunchy but soft, with a little hint of salt. the poppy seeds added great flavor

  21. I agree with others on stamp ideas, for picture perfect kaiser rolls it is a must otherwise you have to settle with less perfect and homemade looking ones and who says that is bad?

    The second idea to make them perfectly round and plump you need to dump all the dough rolls into one small pan slightly spaced from each other. You will end up with perfect round rolls.

  22. We have two bakeries in my small town.

    One slices the Kaiser pattern into the rolls by hand, the other uses a stamp.

    Neither uses an egg wash unless they are adding sesame or poppy seeds (my favorite).

    One sprays the rolls with water before baking, the other has a sprayer built into his bakery oven.

    Both get the crusty outside that is typical of real french bread.

    Did I mention that I live in Germany and eat fresh Broetchen (Kaiser rolls) every day?? 😉

  23. All the methods look interesting – klopping at least would let you work out aggressions!! I think I’ll try the knot, but I’m going to substitute my usual clover leaf Thanksgiving rolls with this recipe – much easier. I just ordered the book yesterday after using the basic recipe from Mother Earth News many times – hubby loves eating my experiments. This book would be a birthday gift for a new baker.

  24. Back in my teenage-times I used to work in a local bakery near my home-village in Germany to fund the gas of my scooter (in order to get out of the village ;-)). The five-petal-shape is done by a stamp-machine nowadays. Formerly they used hand-stamps. If you use a hand-stamp – and this is very important – you have to crush it down on the roll so it cuts through the dough in some places. It might be cut, but it will change back once baked. So if you buy a stamp, be careful to choose one with sharp edges as it will make your work easier.

  25. We had and loved Kaiser rolls all the time when I was a kid. As I remember them they were more “slashed looking” than formed looking. Also, when one turned them over, it was obvious that the “joins” of the ball were on the underside. So the ball would be formed, then turned over and the petals slashed into the smooth top, similar to the way the boule is formed. Probably the stamp solution is the correct one, as slashing simultaneously on both an angle and a curve while maintaining the correct depth is a skill that would require considerable practice to acquire.

  26. I’ve read that for making Kaiser rolls the conventional way you have to let them rest upside down in the poppy seeds, then turn them back up before baking.

  27. I would say maybe put cuts on the side of the roll that go down to the bottom so that it spreads into the 5 sided shape.

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