The other day I watched the finale of Food Network Star and the guy who won, Jeff, has his own show now - Sandwich King. I started thinking about sandwiches.
I'm not big on sandwiches but when I do have one, it's usually Wonderbread with cinnamon sugar. Like cinnamon sugar toast, except a sandwich. I came to the conclusion that eating plain Wonderbread is like eating air. It's boring and bland.
Which was okay, because I used to consider bread as just a vehicle for the stuff that fills the sandwich. After trying these Kaiser rolls, I am a changed person. They have a hard, crusty exterior and the inside is soft and light and perfect. You seriously don't even need to make a sandwich out of these. They can stand on their own, that is how delicious they are.
This is a 2 day process. It's worth it.
from The Bread Baker's Apprentice
1 1/8 c plain flour
1 1/8 c bread flour
3/4 t salt
1/2 t instant yeast
3/4 c water, at room temperature
1 1/2 c Pâte Fermentée (this is one half of the recipe above)
2 1/4 c bread flour
3/4 t salt
1 t diastatic barley malt powder or 1.5 t barley malt syrup
1 t instant yeast
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1.5 T vegetable oil or shortening, melted
3/4 c water, lukewarm
Note: I used active dry yeast instead of instant and it worked out fine. Also, Macheesmo has a great step by step tutorial for this recipe.
For the Pâte Fermentée:
Stir the flours, salt, and yeast together in a bowl. Add 3/4 c water and stir until it all comes together in a ball. Adjust the water or water so the dough is not too sticky or too stiff. Err on the side of sticky - it's easier to add more flour later on during kneading.
On a floured counter, knead 4-6 minutes. The dough should be nice and smooth and soft.
Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and roll it around to coat it with the oil. Cover and ferment at room temperature for 1 hour or until it has swelled to 1.5 times the original size.
Remove dough from bowl and knead lightly. Place bowl in fridge overnight.
For the dough:
Take the pâte fermentée out of the fridge an hour before making the dough. Cut into about 10 small pieces with a bench scraper or knife, whatever you have. Cover and let sit for an hour to take off the chill.
Stir together the flour, salt, malt powder, and yeast. Add pâte fermentée, egg, oil, and 10 tablespoons of water. Stir for 1 minute or until the ingredients form a ball. If there is still some flour left over, add 2 tablespoons water.
Dust a counter with flour and knead for about 10 minutes. If needed, add some more flour. The dough should be soft and tacky and should pass the windowpane test. Lightly oil a bowl and roll it to coat with oil. Ferment at room temperature for 2 hours.
Remove from bowl and divide into 6-9 pieces. A kitchen scale helps get the rolls to about the same size. Each roll ended up being about 3 oz for me. Cut the rolls with a kaiser roll cutter or by knotting them.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and mist it with spray oil. Sprinkle cornmeal on it if desired. Place the rolls, cut side down, on the sheet and loosely cover them. Proof the rolls for 45 minutes at room temperature, then flip the rolls over. Continue proofing for another 30-45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425F. Mist the rolls with water and if you want, sprinkle poppy seeds on top. Bake for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 400F, and continue baking for another 15-30 minutes. They are done when they sound hollow when lightly tapped. The top will be all golden brown and crusty.
Cool for at least 30 minutes on a wire rack before serving.