Kaiser roll

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Kaiser roll
Alternative namesVienna roll, hard roll, water roll
TypeBread roll
Place of originAustria
Region or stateVienna
Main ingredientsFlour, barm, malt, water, salt
VariationsMichetta, rosetta
Food energy
(per serving)
200 (100 g) kcal
Other informationglycaemic load 40 (100 g)[1]

The Kaiser roll (Emperor roll, German: Kaisersemmel), also called a Vienna roll (Wiener Kaisersemmel; as made by hand also: Handsemmel, Slovene: kajzerica) 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 / Weckle in Baden-Württemberg.


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

Kaiser rolls have existed in a recognizable form since at least 1760. They are thought to have been named to honor Emperor (Kaiser) Franz Joseph I of Austria (born 1830, reigned 1848–1916). In the 18th century a law fixed retail prices of Semmeln (bread rolls) in the Habsburg Monarchy. Allegedly, the name Kaisersemmel came into general use after the bakers' guild sent a delegation in 1789 to Emperor Joseph II (b. 1741, r. 1765–1790) and convinced him to deregulate the price of bread rolls.[citation needed]

With its monarchical 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 the Galicia region in Poland and later whole country (where it is known as kajzerka), Croatia, Slovenia, and Serbia (kajzerica), Hungary (császárzsemle), the Czech Republic and Slovakia (kaiserka), as well as in Germany, the United States, and Canada. During Austrian rule in Lombardy, Italian bakers produced a hollow version known as michetta or rosetta.


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, though sliced Extrawurst and pickled gherkins (Wurstsemmel), or a type of Wiener Schnitzel (Schnitzelsemmel) are also used. A variation called a kummelweck (alternatively spelled "kimmelweck" or "kümmelweck")[5] is topped with kosher salt and caraway, and in the United States is an essential 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 — and throughout New Jersey, Kaiser rolls are known as "hard rolls", and are staples of delicatessen and convenience stores.

The Wisconsin variety of "hard roll", which was formed over the decades by the bakeries of Sheboygan to be paired with the local specialty of bratwurst (either in a long single bun or circular "double brat" roll), features a fluffy consistency on the inside with a crust on the crown of the bun, though most of the steps and some ingredients in the creation of Sheboygan hard rolls are proprietary, and can vary by each bakery's own recipe.[6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods". Harvard Medical School. August 27, 2015. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  2. ^ How To Shape Kaiser Rolls. Keiser University (Culinary Arts). November 19, 2013. Event occurs at 0.06. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  3. ^ List of traditional foods, entry No. 164 (in German) Archived 2013-11-12 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Codex Alimentarius Austriacus, chapter B18, subchapter 2.2.2 (in German)
  5. ^ "kummelweck". Wiktionary. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  6. ^ "All about Buns". Retrieved October 15, 2019.
  7. ^ "Sheboygan Rolls at City Bakery LLC in Sheboygan, WI". City Bakery, Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Retrieved October 15, 2019.

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