Kaiser roll

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Kaiser roll
Alternative names Vienna roll, hard roll, water roll
Type Bread roll
Place of origin Austria
Region or state Vienna
Main ingredients Flour, barm, malt, water, salt
Variations Michetta, rosetta
Food energy
(per serving)
200 (100g) kcal
Other information glycaemic load 40 (100g)[1]
Cookbook: Kaiser roll  Media: Kaiser roll

The Kaiser roll (German: Kaisersemmel), also called a Vienna roll (Wiener Kaisersemmel; as made by hand also: Handsemmel, Slovene: kajzerca) or a hard roll, is a typically crusty round bread roll, originally from Austria. It is made from white flour, yeast, malt, water and salt, with the top side usually divided in a symmetric pattern of five segments, separated by curved superficial cuts radiating from the centre outwards or folded in a series of overlapping lobes resembling a crown.[2] The crisp Kaisersemmel is a traditional Austrian food officially approved by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.[3]

Semmel (derived from Latin: simila, wheat flour) is the common name for any kind of roll in Austria and the German state of Bavaria, equivalent to Brötchen in Northern Germany or Weck in Baden-Württemberg.


Kaiser rolls at a court banquet of Maria Theresa about 1760, excerpt from a painting by Martin van Meytens

Kaiser rolls have existed in a recognizable form at least since 1760. They are thought to have been named to honor Emperor (Kaiser) Franz Joseph I of Austria (1830–1916). In 18th century a law fixed retail prices of Semmeln breadrolls in the Habsburg Monarchy. Allegedly, the name Kaisersemmel came into general use after the bakers' guild had sent a delegation in 1789 to Emperor Joseph II (1741–1790) and convinced him of deregulating the selling price.[citation needed]

With its monarchal connotation, Kaiser rolls stood out against common rolls known as Mundsemmeln ("mouth rolls") or Schustersemmeln ("cobbler's rolls"). They are traditionally found in Austria, but have also become popular in other countries of the former Austrian Habsburg Empire, such as Poland (known as kajzerka in Galicia), Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia (kajzerica), Italy, Hungary (császárzsemle), the Czech Republic (kaiserka), as well as in Germany, the United States, and Canada. Italian bakers, during the Austrian domination in Lombardy, produced a hollow version known as michetta or rosetta.


a 'beef on weck' sandwich.

A handmade Kaiser roll is known as a Wiener Kaisersemmel (Handsemmel) according to the Codex Alimentarius Austriacus standards collection.[4]

There are multiple variants of the common roll, differing in size, type of flour used, and toppings. While traditionally plain, Kaiser-style rolls are today found topped with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin kernels, linseed or sunflower seeds. The Kaiser roll is a main part of a typical Austrian breakfast, usually served with butter and jam. It is often used as a bun for such popular sandwiches as hamburgers in America and with a slice of Leberkäse in Germany (and Austria itself), though sliced Extrawurst and pickled gherkins (Wurstsemmel), or a type of Wiener Schnitzel (Schnitzelsemmel) are also used. A variation called a kummelweck (sometimes pronounced "kimmelweck" or "kümmelweck", from the Austrian Kümmelweckerl) is topped with kosher salt and caraway, and in the United States is a quintessential component of a Buffalo-area specialty, the beef on weck sandwich.

In much of eastern New York state—New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley and the Adirondacks—Kaiser rolls are known as "hard rolls," and are staples of delis and convenience stores.

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