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What is a Kaiser Roll?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 16, 2024
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A Kaiser roll is a hard, crusty bread roll which is sometimes simply known as a hard roll. Kaiser rolls are often used to make sandwiches, and they can also be served whole to accompany hearty soups and stews. Many bakeries and grocers stock Kaiser rolls, and they can also be made at home, although shaping them can be a bit challenging.

A classic Kaiser roll is round with deep lines in the top which make the roll look almost like a flower. Most Kaiser rolls are divided into five segments by these lines, although four segments are not uncommon. Before baking, a Kaiser roll is brushed with poppy or sesame seeds. During the baking process, the roll rises up into a puffy shape with a rich, chewy crust.

Supposedly, the Kaiser roll was invented in Vienna, Austria to honor Emperor Franz Josef. Because of this, some people call the rolls “Vienna rolls.” Recipes for Kaiser rolls vary; some are yeasted rolls enriched with egg and milk, for example, while others are made with sponges or starters, which develop a more chewy crust since they rise more slowly. The rolls are generally about the size of hamburger buns, and some cooks make them with a thinner, less chewy crust, although this is not traditional.

To make Kaiser rolls, mix up a batch of bread dough of choice and divide it into rolls. Allow the rolls to rise for an hour, or until doubled in size, and then form them. There are two ways to form a Kaiser roll. The traditional technique involves rolling the dough out into a square and then folding each corner into the middle, creating a four-petaled shape. Some bakers use a Kaiser roll stamp instead; these heavy metal stamps make lines in the middle of the Kaiser roll.

If using the traditional technique, it helps to let the Kaiser rolls rise face down, so that the seams in the dough do not split as it rises. Kaiser rolls made with a stamp can rise face up. After a second rising of around half an hour, brush the Kaiser rolls with water or egg and sprinkle the seeds of choice on top before baking them as directed in your bread dough recipe. Kaiser rolls are particularly excellent when served warm, although they can also be eaten after they have cooled in sandwiches or on picnics.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By stolaf23 — On Jan 08, 2011

@behaviourism A kaiser roll's nutrition is also probably better than hamburger buns. While there are probably more calories in a kaiser roll, traditional ones use better simpler ingredients, and if you make them with whole wheat they can have a lot of flour as well.

By behaviourism — On Jan 07, 2011

@hyrax53, that is probably because many of the kinds of rolls and bread Americans use have very little taste. Whether you bake them with white flour or wheat, kaiser rolls are much heartier than "hamburger buns".

By hyrax53 — On Jan 05, 2011

In Europe, kaiser rolls are the standard kind of sandwich bun; while in the United States people often will eat things like hamburgers in potato rolls or other "hamburger" buns, most places in Vienna and the surrounding area use Kaiser rolls or similar types for their sandwiches.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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