Austrians refer to bread rolls as “Semmerl” and most will not only associate the bread’s appearance with this word but also a particular sound and taste. The Kaisersemmel (pinwheel-shaped Kaiser Roll or “Emperor’s roll”) has a very special place amongst Austrian breads and rolls.
- 600 g flour (smooth/fine)
- 1 yeast cube
- 2 tsp sugar
- 200 ml milk (luke-warm)
- 40 g butter
- 125 ml water
- 1 tsp salt
- flour (for flouring worktop)
- a little butter (for greasing tin)
- milk (for glazing)
Directions for Kaiser Roll
- Crumble yeast into the flour. Add sugar and milk and stir until smooth. Cover and leave to stand for 30 minutes.
- Melt the butter in the water, leave to cool and add to the yeast mixture with the salt. Slowly knead to form a smooth dough. Sprinkle the dough with flour, wrap in a damp cloth and leave to stand for 1 hour.
- Knead the risen dough again, divide into eight equal-sized pieces and shape into balls.
- Grease a baking tray. Place the rolls on the tray and cut a criss-cross shape 3 cm deep into each one. Cover with a damp cloth again and leave to stand for a further 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 250°C and bake the rolls on the middle rack for approx. 15 minutes until golden brown. Brush with milk after approx. 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven after 15 minutes, cover with a cloth and briefly leave to stand.
Kaiser Roll are exceptionally versatile and can be enjoyed with butter and marmalade for breakfast, dipped into goulash for lunch or accompanying the cold meat and cheese board at supper. Their great versatility makes them so popular and they can even be used in all sorts of dishes when slightly stale, for example as breadcrumbs for coating the famous Wiener Schnitzel. Apropos Schnitzel: We call our Kaisersemmerl filled with the popular thin breaded, pan-fried veal cutlet, ketchup and green salad Austro-Burger.
The origins of the Kaisersemmel are unclear although according to one tale they were invented by a Viennese baker called Kayser in 1750. Making the notches on the top of the rolls created more of a crust which creates the unique taste. Another story involves Emperor Franz Joseph I. Similar to Kaiserschmarrn (chopped pancake), the syllable “Kasier” (“Emperor” in Austrian) was added to the fine food “Semmel” (bread roll). Europe’s oldest Semmel is almost 3,000 years-old. And, as all good things come in threes, we have one more theory: the most common theory is that the name “Semmel” came from the Latin “Simila” which means “finely ground wheat flour” and the rolls made using this were later called “Semmel”.
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