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Austrian Semmel (Easy Kaiser Bread Roll Recipe)

No stand-mixer or special equipment required. These traditional Austrian Semmel Bread Rolls, or buns, if you will, come together in just one bowl. Use a Kaiser roll stamp for perfectly shaped and deliciously crusty Kaiser Rolls. Recipe includes a how-to video!

Baked Austrian semmel rolls cooling on a wire rack.

A mentor of mine, reminiscing on her days as a foreign missionary in Austria, introduced me to the delightful tradition and taste of the Semmel roll. As an American, I was familiar with this beautiful bun under the familiar name, “Kaiser Roll.” But the origins of this crusty, yeasted bread roll have long been held by the Austrians, who daily enjoy the simplicity of the soft and unadorned Semmel roll.

While American bakeries and coffee shops often have piles of Kaiser rolls stacked high, embellished with poppy seeds or sesame seeds, the classic European style emphasizes a pillowy, soft interior, a golden, crusty exterior, and a plain yet elegant star-shaped bun.

Kaiser Bread Rolls, aka Semmel: The Ultimate Buns.

This Kaiser bread roll recipe will have you craving buttery, jam-covered, toasty buns every morning of the week.

These rolls are:

  • easy to bring together with this one-bowl recipe.
  • no stand-mixer required, or any other kitchen gadget.
  • golden brown tops with a pillowy soft inside and a crusty crunch on the outside.
  • perfect for breakfast with jam and butter or sliced for easy and delicious sandwiches or burgers.

While I’m partial to a versatile recipe like these Austrian rolls, I also adore other international bread recipes, like this cheesy Georgian bread boat.

A baked golden-brown semmel kaiser roll on a wire rack.

What you’ll need:

Simple pantry ingredients come together to form these traditional Kaiser rolls.

All the ingredients laid out on a countertop for Austrian semmel bread rolls.

Dump and Mix Semmel Recipe

Nothing beats a one-bowl dump-and-mix bread recipe, and these Semmel rolls don’t disappoint. I typically keep active dry yeast on hand in bulk quantities, so I am used to whipping up a pre-dough. If you’ve got instant yeast, you can skip that step and literally dump all the ingredients together in a bowl and mix it up until it is completely incorporated.

The pre-dough step is an easy way to jump-start the yeast activity before adding in all of the flour. This helps the dough to rise more quickly, and there’s just something cool about watching the bubbles and smelling that unmistakable yeasty bread aroma.

Once the pre-dough is nice and active, you can toss in the rest of the ingredients and give it a good mix. It’s easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy, which is a perfect (though totally unrelated) phrase for me to unashamedly plug my sourdough lemon cake recipe.

Alicia’s Tip

If, like myself, you are terrible at shaping the traditional Semmel star by hand, you can use a Kaiser roll stamp to press a beautiful and perfect star pattern into the puffy dough.

How to make Semmel.

1. Make the pre-dough. Combine 1 cup of the flour, then the salt, sugar, water, and yeast into a large bowl. Let it sit and get bubbly for about 10 minutes.

A large glass bowl of bubbly pre-dough for semmel rolls.

2. Finish the dough. Add the softened butter and whisk. Then add the rest of the ingredients, kneading the dough until smooth.

A large glass bowl of semmel dough ready to rise.

3. Rise the dough. Place dough in a greased bowl to rise covered for 30-45 minutes or until double.

4. Divide and shape balls. Weigh the dough, then divide by 8. I like to measure in grams for this step. You can also just eyeball it. Cover balls and rest 15 mins.

A woman rolling semmel kaiser dough balls by hand.

5. Shape stars. Fold the rolls by hand into stars (see video below) or use a Kaiser roll stamp to press the pattern into each roll.

6. Place Rolls on Baking Sheet. Allow the shaped rolls to rise for another 30 mins and get the oven preheating to 450°F (232°C).

Unbaked shaped semmel rolls on a baking sheet ready to go in the oven.

7. Spray and Bake. Immediately before transferring the rolls to the oven, lightly spritz them with a spray bottle filled with water. Reduce the oven to 400°F (204°C).

8. Bake. Bake the rolls for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the baked rolls to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

A baked semmel roll cooling on a wire rack.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use instant yeast?

Yes! Skip the pre-dough step and simply mix all the ingredients together, knead, and follow the rest of the steps in the recipe card.

Can I make these rolls ahead of time?

These rolls are perfect for prepping ahead of time. Follow the steps up to dividing the dough into equal portions, then shape them into uniform round dough balls. Place unrisen dough balls into a pan or baking sheet and flash freeze them.

Once frozen transfer dough balls into freezer bag and store in freezer. When ready to serve take dough balls out of the freezer and allow them to thaw and rise on the counter for 4 to 5 hours, or until they are puffy. Shape or press the star pattern and rise for another 30 minutes. Bake. Enjoy.

I can’t wait for you to try these rolls! I’ll walk you through all of the steps in my written recipe and video below! Give it a try, and let me know how you liked it by leaving a review.

Austrian semmel bread rolls on a wire rack.

Austrian Semmel (Easy Kaiser Bread Roll Recipe)

Alicia Pyle
Bake traditional Austrian Semmel rolls with this effortless one-bowl Kaiser recipe. These homemade yeasted Semmel bread rolls are the perfect combination of soft and crunchy with their pillowy insides and crusty exterior.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Rise Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Servings 8 Rolls
Calories 219 kcal

Ingredients
  

Pre-Dough

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (120 grams)
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp salt (8 grams)
  • 1 tsp sugar (5 grams)
  • 1 cup lukewarm water (210 grams)
  • 2 and 1/4 tsp dry active yeast (10 grams) or 1 standard packet

Semmel Dough

  • 2 tbsp unsalted softened butter (30 grams)
  • 1/4 cup milk (50 grams)
  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (305 grams)

Instructions
 

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 and 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, 1 cup lukewarm water, and 2 and 1/4 tsp dry active yeast. Whisk the pre-dough thoroughly, then cover with a towel and rest for 10 minutes or until the yeast is activated and bubbly.
  • Add the 2 tbsp unsalted softened butter and whisk until incorporated. Then add 1/4 cup milk and 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, kneading together until smooth, about 6-8 minutes.
  • Grease a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover and rise for approximately 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  • Divide the dough into roughly 8 equal-sized pieces and shape each piece into a smooth round ball. Cover the dough balls with a towel and allow them to rest for 15 minutes.
  • Create the star shape on each roll by first flattening the dough into a disc shape about the size of your palm. Then, place your thumb in the center of the disc and fold down the top half of the dough over your thumb. Use the edge of your palm to indent the dough, then fold over into the center and press the dough to secure.
  • Continue this folding pattern four to five times, ending the last fold by tucking it into the thumb hole. (See the video for folding instructions, or simply use a Kaiser stamp for easy and perfect pastry patterns.)
  • Place each shaped roll on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover, and rise for another 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  • Use a spray bottle filled with water to spritz each roll immediately before transferring the baking sheet to the oven. Reduce the oven to 400 degrees F and bake rolls for 18-20 or until golden brown. Allow the baked rolls to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

Video

Notes

Shaping rolls into the traditional star pattern can be tricky. An easy way to do this is by using a Kaiser stamp. This pastry tool makes pressing a perfect star into each roll a breeze.
Instant yeast can also be used in place of active dry yeast. If you opt for instant yeast, you can skip the pre-dough activation step and simply combine all the ingredients, mixing until a well-combined and smooth dough forms.
A stand-mixer makes the recipe even easier, though you do not need one!
Be sure to spray the rolls with a spritz of water immediately before popping them into the oven to ensure a nice crusty exterior. You can also place an oven-safe dish filled with water on the bottom rack for extra steam during the baking time.

Nutrition

Calories: 219kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 6gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 442mgPotassium: 75mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 100IUVitamin C: 0.003mgCalcium: 19mgIron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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