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Gluten-Free Kaiser Bread Roll
This is a very typical bread roll made & served in Austria known as the Kaisersemmel, meaning Emperor’s Roll. It is also called a Vienna roll and is distinguished by the top side usually divided in an asymmetric pattern of five segments.
Austria’s favourite sandwich
Kaiser bread rolls are typically eaten with cold meats or a thick warm ham & cheese slice called Leberkäse and are a lunchtime favourite for workers or schoolchildren.
How else are Kaiser bread rolls eaten?
All the Vienna coffeehouses serve baskets full of Kaiser bread rolls at breakfast to be enjoyed with jams, sliced cheese, cold meats and eggs. Dinner is often accompanied with these rolls, especially with favourites like pumpkin soup, goulash and any dish that has an abundant serving of sauce.
Making these rolls from scratch calls for some basic ingredients when following a gluten recipe, however in order to make a decent gluten-free Kaiser roll, sweet rice flour, gluten-free plain flour, potato starch and psyllium husk are required. The result is a crisp exterior with a fluffy, tasty centre. The flavour is close to the real thing and can be eaten over two days provided the rolls are reheated to enjoy their texture.
How do you make the classic Kaiser design?
The classic pattern created on the top of each roll is normally done with a Kaisersemmel stamp, but for practical purposes, I resorted to using a sharp knife to sketch out the pattern. Scoring a cross on the top with a shape-pointed knife is also fine if you are less inclined to sketch the classic pattern!
What toppings can be added?
Keeping the tops plain is more traditional, but if you like more flavour and texture, poppy seeds or sesame seeds are often used as alternative toppings.
Gluten-Free Kaiser Bread Rolls (Kaisersemmel)
- 500 ml milk, lukewarm
- 1½ tbsp dried yeast
- 30 g sugar
- 200 g sweet rice or glutinous rice flour
- 300 g store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
- 1 tbsp potato starch
- 3 tsp psyllium husk
- 3 tsp salt
- 60 g butter, at room temperature
- Extra sweet rice flour for rolling
For decorating the bread rolls
- 1 egg mixed with some water, for brushing the rolls
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds optional
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds optional
Preparing the dough
- Mix the milk, yeast and sugar together and set aside covered in a warm place for 10 minutes to activate.
- Mix the flours, potato starch, psyllium husk and salt together in a large bowl or benchtop stand mixer bowl.
- Add the activated yeast mixture and butter to the flour mixture. Beat well for 5 minutes. The mixture should start to be slightly sticky and come away from the sides.
- Cover and allow to rest for two hours in a warm place.
Assembling the rolls
- Divide the dough into equal size balls, rolling them in some sweet rice flour if they feel too sticky.
- Using a sharp floured knife either sketch out the classic Kaiser flower design or simply score a cross in the centre. Allow the knife to go halfway down the roll. Due to the nature of the gluten-free rolls, the dough may seal up again but most of the design will be visible once baked. Flour the stamp if using this instead of the knife.
- Mix the egg and some water to make an egg wash.
- Brush each roll with the egg wash. Sprinkle some with sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds or leave the tops plain, if preferred.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F.
- Spray some water over the rolls and around the tray just before baking. Bake for 15 minutes on the middle shelf. The bottoms of each roll should be golden and sound hollow when tapped.
- Allow them to cool slightly before serving. Cover with a clean tea towel if serving later.
- Best eaten on the day of baking
- If eaten the next day, they can be refreshed by spraying some water on each roll and reheating them in a moderate oven or in an air fryer for 5 minutes.
- They freeze well and can be reheated directly from the freezer to a moderate oven in 10 to 15 minutes. Cover the rolls with foil while reheating to prevent the outside from over-baking.
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