Jane’s Sweets & Baking Journal -- janessweets.blogspot.com -- January 2013

(This recipe was adapted from Breads, a paperback volume in the “Easy & Elegant Meals” series; published in 1985 by Ortho Books; compiled by the California Culinary Academy.)

Poppy Seed Kaiser Rolls

Yield: 12 sandwich size rolls

1 and 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast

2 cups warm water

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons fine sea salt

1/3 cup canola oil

6 to 6-and-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Egg white from one large egg, mixed with 1 tablespoon of water

Poppy seeds (I'd have more than necessary on hand if I were you; you might actually use half a cup or less, but don't skimp. If you can't find, or you don't like, poppy seeds, try sesame seeds.)

In the large bowl of your mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix the water, sugar, salt, and oil on low speed just until combined.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine four cups of the flour with the instant yeast; stir or gently whisk in the yeast. Add into the liquid ingredients.

Still using the paddle, mix on medium speed for five minutes.

Now on the lowest speed, add in 1 and 1/2 cups of the flour. The dough will be quite soft.

Dump all of the dough out onto a well-floured board (use some of the remaining flour that you first measured out, starting with about 1/2 a cup and adding more as needed).

Flour your hands and knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic. By the time you're done it should feel tacky but not sticky. This will take about ten minutes if you knead energetically and maybe up to 15 if you knead more gently. Add just enough of the remaining flour to keep the dough from sticking to your board and to your hands.

Put the dough into a large, clean mixing bowl that's been sprayed with vegetable spray, oiled, or greased with shortening. Turn the dough over so it's lightly coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap that's also been greased, and cover the whole thing with a dish towel. Put the bowl in a warmer-than-room-temperature spot. Let the dough rise for about an hour, until it's doubled in size.

On a very lightly floured surface, dump out the dough and push on it with your palms/knuckles to deflate it. Invert your bowl and use it to cover the dough; let the dough rest like that for 10 minutes.  

Using a bench knife, or a sharp chef's knife, divide the dough into twelve equal pieces (they will probably weigh around 4 oz. each, more or less). Shape each piece into a ball, being sure to pinch tightly closed any seams on the bottoms. Cover one large or two regular size baking sheets with parchment paper and place the balls on them, about two inches apart. Cover the dough balls with sprayed/greased plastic wrap. Lightly cover that with a dish towel and put them in a warm spot to rise.  

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spread a layer of poppy seeds on a tray. Whisk the egg white and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Have a pastry brush standing by.

Once the dough balls have risen for about 30 minutes, until almost doubled, brush the tops of all of them with the egg wash. Then, one by one, gently pick them up and dip them in the poppy seeds. Set them back on the parchment. Using a baker's lame or a razor blade, carefully cut five small slashes on each dough ball, starting from the center and moving outward, creating a spiral design on the top of each one. Don't cut too deeply, but don't be too timid either; try to cut about half an inch deep.  

Bake in the middle of the oven. As soon as you put the trays in the oven, quickly mist some water into the oven as well (be careful not to aim water at the lightbulb!). Bread dough likes a steamy atmosphere.

Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. The rolls should be golden brown, with slightly darker bottoms, and their internal temperature should be at least 190 degrees (up to maybe 210). Let the finished rolls cool on a rack.