A couple weekends ago, I was in the mood for some bread baking. I had roast beef on the menu for Sunday dinner, and anticipating lots of leftovers that would make delicious sandwiches, I decided to try making the Kaiser rolls from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I had tons of fun making the bread - it is so satisfying to start with a pile of flour and then pull these out of the oven at the end. If you enjoy baking bread at all, you should definitely try these. There is nothing complicated about the recipe, but it does require planning ahead, since there is an overnight fermentation step. The rolls were fantastic and made wonderful sandwiches with our roast beef!
Adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice
Makes 6 large rolls
For this bread, you first make a pre-ferment dough (the pate fermentee) and refrigerate it overnight. The next day, half the dough is used for the sandwich rolls. The other half can be frozen and used for future breads. The pre-ferment improves the structure and flavor of the dough, so make sure you plan ahead enough for the overnight step.
For pate fermentee:
5 ounces (1 1/8 cups) all-purpose flour
5 ounces (1 1/8 cups) bread flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast (or 3/4 tsp active dry yeast)
3/4 cup water at room temperature, plus 2 tbs extra if needed
Stir together the flours, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 3/4 cup water and mix on low speed for 1 minute using the paddle attachment, until ingredients come together into a coarse ball. Change to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 4 minutes, or until the dough is soft, pliable, and tacky. Add extra water or flour if the dough is too dry or sticky. After kneading, the internal temperature of the dough should be 77-81 deg F.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and roll the dough around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 1 hour, or until the dough rises to 1 1/2 times the original size (my apartment was on the cool side, so it took me longer than an hour to get the proper rise).
Lightly punch down the dough and then cover the bowl again with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.
For the Kaiser rolls:
8 ounces (1 1/2 cups) pate fermentee
10 ounces (2 1/4 cups) bread flour
3/4 tsp plus a pinch of salt
1 tsp diastatic barley malt powder or 1 1/2 tsp barley malt syrup
1 tsp instant yeast or 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tbs vegetable oil
10 tbs to 3/4 cup water at 90-100 deg F
Poppy or sesame seeds (optional)
Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting
Remove pate fermentee from the fridge 1 hour before making rolls (after refrigerating it for at least 1 night). Cut the pate fermentee into about 10 small pieces and cover them with a towel or plastic wrap for 1 hour. After 1 hour, measure out 8 ounces (this should be about half of the pate fermentee). Combine the remainder into a ball, wrap in plastic, and freeze.
Stir together the flour, salt, malt powder/syrup, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the pate fermentee, egg, oil, and 10 tbs water. Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment for 1 minute, or until ingredients form a ball. If all of the flour is not incorporated, add up to 2 tbs more water and mix again. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 6 minutes, until dough is soft, supple, and tacky. Add flour if dough is sticky. The internal temperature of the dough should be 77-81 deg F. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled large bowl and roll dough to coat in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment dough at room temperature for 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
Remove dough from bowl and divide it into 6 equal pieces (weighing is the best way to ensure that they are equal). Form the pieces into balls, spray lightly with spray oil, cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and let dough sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with parchment paper, lightly spray with oil, and dust with semolina flour or cornmeal.
Shape the dough balls into knotted rolls, as illustrated here and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Spray rolls lightly with oil and loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap. Proof rolls at room temperature for 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 deg F with a rack in the middle. Flip rolls over on the pan, spray again with oil and proof for an additional 30-45 minutes while oven is preheating, until rolls are double their original size. After proofing, mist the rolls with water. Sprinkle with seeds, if desired.
Place the pan in the preheated oven, spray oven walls with water, and close oven door. After 10 minutes, rotate the pan for even baking and lower temperature to 400 deg F. Continue baking until rolls are medium golden brown and measure about 200 deg F in the center. This could take 15-30 minutes.
Remove pan from oven and transfer rolls to a cooking rack. Wait at least 30 minutes before serving.