Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Let's make some Kaiser Rolls!

For over a year now, I've been writing a monthly bread baking column on Serious Eats. Starting this month, I've got a new column called Knead the Book, where I cook five recipes from a bread baking cookbook.

This column follows in the footsteps of the long-running Cook the Book column, and uses the same format. If you wander over to Serious Eats, you can win a copy of the book I'm writing about over there. Go. Look.

Meanwhile, here's one of the columns, and a recipe for Kaiser rolls, too:

Choosing which “classic” bread recipes to make from The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking was difficult – there were so many choices. I decided to make Kaiser rolls because I was intrigued  – and slightly confused – by the folding technique.

Kaiser rolls can be made with a stamp, but who has one? Well, okay, I do. But most people don’t. And the times I used the stamp, I wasn’t wild about the results, So I was pretty happy to see instructions for folding the dough. Really it’s more like tying a knot. Dough macramé.

To be perfectly honest, the instructions baffled me the first few times I read them. Then I rolled up a kitchen towel and used that to practice on. After a couple of tries, it made sense.

When I started working with the dough, the elasticity of the dough made it easy to work with, but then I had to figure out exactly how long to made the “legs” after I made the loop (and seriously, the book calls for a 12-inch piece of dough, but once you start handling it, it stretched quite a bit.) Even when the rolls looked pretty good after they were formed, they didn’t all bake perfectly. This is a technique that needs a bit of practice to get it right, but when the rolls look just right, it’s well worth the effort. So much better than rolls made with a stamp.

Kaiser Rolls
adapted from The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking by the French Culinary Institute

812 grams /1 pound 12 2/3 ounces bread flour
430 grams / 15 1/8 ounces water
41 grams / 1 1/2 ounces eggs
29 grams / 1 ounce fresh yeast
19 grams / 2/3 ounce vegetable oil
16 grams / 1/2 ounce malt syrup
19 grams 2/3 ounce salt
18 grams / 2/3 ounce sugar

Prepare the mise en place.

Combine the bread flour with the water, eggs, yeast, vegetable oil, and malt syrup in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the hook. Mix on low speed for about 4 minutes, or until blended.

Add the salt and sugar, increase the mixer speed tp medium, and mix for about 8 minutes, or until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, feels elastic, and gives some resistance when tugged.

Lightly oil a large bowl or container.

Scrape the dough into the prepared bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic film and set aside to ferment for 1 hour.

Lightly flour a clean, flat work surface.

Uncover the dough and divide it into 12 115-gram / 4-ounce rounds on the floured surface. Cover with plastic film and bench rest for 15 minutes.

Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Uncover the dough and, if necessary, lightly flour the work surface. If you have a kaiser roll stamp, press the center of the roll with it. If you don’t have a stamp, lightly press on the dough to degas and carefully shape each round into a baguette about 12 inches long. Working with one piece at a time, form each baguette into a loop, crossing the ends with the right end being on the bottom.

Pull the right end up and over the center of the loop and the push it under in the same direction.

The left loop should now be pointing right. Take the left end and pull it up and under the center hole and then connect it to the other end.

You should now have a roll that is rather like a rosette.

Place 6 rolls, seam side down, onto each of the prepared pans. Cover with plastic film and proof for 1 hour.

About an hour before you are ready to bake the rolls, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Uncover the dough and transfer the rolls to the preheated oven. Bake for 22 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown and crisp.

Remove from the oven and transfer to wire racks to cool.

This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.