As soon as I found out that the traditional pattern on a Kaiser roll (or bulkie roll) comes from folding the dough, I knew I had to learn how to do it. That’s harder than it sounds for two reasons: It’s hard to find directions for how to do the folds, and it takes some practice to make the folds properly. These days apparently you form balls and then stamp them with a Kaiser roll stamp. Peter Reinhart, in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, recommends the stamp but shows a folding method that’s not the traditional one. Then I found a discussion on The Fresh Loaf in which one of the commenters, a retired baker named Norm, gave his recipe and tried to describe the process; later he put a video on YouTube. Here’s his recipe; my notes are in parentheses and I’ve paraphrased his directions:
(27 oz of dough, 3 oz dough per roll, 9 rolls)
salt ¼ oz (4 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt)
water 8 oz (7 oz if using 1 egg)
eggs ¾ oz (or 1 egg [2 oz])
sugar 1 oz
oil ¾ oz
hi gluten flour 1 lb
cake yeast 1 oz (½ oz instant dry yeast [4 tsp])
Mix and knead the dough in a bread machine on the dough cycle or a in stand mixer with the dough hook (knead for 12 min)
Proof for 1 hour (or so) until doubled in bulk
Punch down and let rest for 20-30 min
Dust the bench with rye flour and form the rolls (see video)
Proof the rolls upside down on poppy seeds for 1 hour or until doubled
Bake at 450℉ for 20-25 min
Norm recommends King Arthur’s high-gluten flour, Sir Lancelot, which I get at the Harvest Coop in Central Square, Cambridge. This is a very stiff, dry dough, and to me, when it’s kneaded and ready to rise it feels like Play-Doh. Norm also recommends using steam for a crisper crust, but I don’t use it because we prefer a softer crust.
I’ve been practicing with Norm’s video, and I’m starting to feel like I’m getting the hang of it, except for that last fold where you tuck in the end.
They look a little lopsided; obviously I need to work on making my folds a little more symmetrical, too.