- Mix, then knead together all of the dough ingredients — by hand, stand mixer, or in the bucket of a bread machine programmed for the dough cycle — to make a smooth, supple dough.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or dough-rising bucket, cover the bowl or bucket, and allow the dough to rise until noticeably puffy, about 1 hour.
- Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface. Divide the dough into six equal pieces. Shape the pieces into round balls, and place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Center your kaiser stamp over one ball of dough. Press down firmly, cutting nearly to the bottom but not all the way through. (See "tips," below.) Repeat with the remaining rolls.
- Place the rolls cut-side down (this helps them retain their shape) onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the rolls, and allow them to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until they've almost doubled in volume. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Turn the rolls cut-side up. Dip their tops in milk, and coat with poppy or sesame seeds, if desired.
- Bake the rolls for 15 to 17 minutes, or until they're golden brown and feel light to the touch. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack.
- Serve rolls warm, or at room temperature. Store leftover rolls, well wrapped, at room temperature for a couple of days; freeze for longer storage.
Tips from our Bakers
- If you don't cut the unbaked rolls deeply enough, the shape disappears as they bake; if you cut too deeply (all the way through), the rolls will form "petals" as they rise and look like a daisy, not a kaiser roll.