Kaiser rolls – Császárzsemle

Kaiser roll is a crusty round bread roll, originally from Austria, but due to those 51 years our country spent in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, this bakery product often appears on the Hungarian dining tables as well. Kaiser rolls are thought to have been named to honor Emperor (Kaiser) Franz Joseph I of Austria, but according to other interpretations the word kaiser comes from the name of a baker called Kayser, who was the supposed contriver of these embellished buns.

Kaiser roll’s typical feature is that the top of the bread rolls is divided in a symmetric pattern of five segments, separated by curved superficial cuts radiating from the centre outwards. The easiest way to make this decoration is to use a special kaiser roll stamp, however, if you don’t have that utensil (and seriously, who has it?), there’s a fancy shaping technique that you have to use to get that little nub on top of the roll.

Kaiser rolls are made from all-purpose flour, which has lower gluten content and tend to make drier, more crumbly bread rolls; in order to improve the quality of the flour I also add gluten to the flour. Gluten absorbs moisture and adds elasticity making the finished product light and fluffy.

Kaiser rolls


  • 800 g (~1 3/4 lbs) all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp gluten
  • 40 g fresh yeast (4 tsp dry yeast)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 200 ml (~4/5 cup) water
  • 250 ml (~1 cup) milk
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 50 g (~1 3/4 oz) butter
  • sesame seeds

Dissolve yeast with a pinch of sugar in lukewarm water. In a mixing bowl combine flour with salt and gluten. Add activated yeast, tepid milk, salt and butter. Knead until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and feels elastic. Cover and leave it to rest for about 50 minutes until the dough doubles in size.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and divide it into 14 equal pieces. Shape the dough pieces into balls and let them rest for 10 minutes. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

If you have a kaiser roll stamp, press the center of each dough ball with it. If you don’t have a stamp, roll each round into a 30 cm/12 inch long rope. Working with one piece at a time, form each dough rope into a loop making a loose knot and leaving two long tails.
Loop the right end around the circle (pull down and up), tucking the end into the center hole.
Take the left end and pull it up and over the center of the loop and then connect the two ends.

Kaiser-rolls-3photos: zserbo.com

Place the rolls, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheets, cover them with a kitchen towel and let them rise for 50 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 392°F. Brush the top of the rolls with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool the kaiser rolls on wire rack.

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1 Response

  1. I find that interesting that people don’t quite know where the name comes from. You mentioned it was either the baker or the emperor. I can see it being the baker but the emperor wanted the glory. I happen to love the crumbly aspect of the kaiser roll. I use it for a lot of soups.

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