Kümmelweck (Kimmelweck) Rolls

Kümmelweck or Kimmelweck is a hard crusty roll sprinkled with coarse salt and caraway seeds. ‘Kümmel’ is German for caraway, and rolls are called  ‘Weck ‘in the southern part of the country. In the north, it is called “brötchen”.kummelweck cover

These rolls are very popular in Buffalo, New York, where they are used to make “Beef on Weck”, a sandwich which has thinly sliced rare roast beef and horseradish.

Legend has it that a canny German immigrant, who owned a bar on the waterfront, created this sandwich. He felt that having this salty sandwich would make his clients thirsty, leading to an increase in the sale of beer.

Aparna provided our group at We Knead to Bake with a recipe which had egg white as one of the ingredients. I omitted that and halved the recipe to get 4 rolls.

I kneaded the dough, placed it in a large well-greased container with a lid and kept it overnight in the refrigerator. Leaving the dough to ferment slowly fulfills two purposes. One it improves the flavor of the bread, and two, it is a very convenient way of making bread. Just pull the dough out, shape and leave to prove a couple of hours before you want bread on your table.

I used sea salt and black cumin (shah jeera) to sprinkle on top. In fact there was a very interesting discussion among the members about caraway seeds. Though people think both cumin and caraway are the same, they are in fact distinctly different in terms of both flavor and appearance. Caraway is warm and pungent whereas cumin tastes slightly bitter. However they belong to the same plant family Apiaceae, along with spices like anise, celery, coriander, dill, fennel and parsley.

It is caraway seeds that are used commonly in German cuisine to make sauerkraut, breads, cheeses etc. Aparna suggested we substitute caraway with black cumin as finding caraway seeds here may be difficult. I gladly went along with that since I had it in stock. But if you have caraway, then use that for an authentic Kümmelweck.

I did not make a ‘Beef on Weck’, but what I did was split them in half, slather them with some home-made barbeque sauce and top with lettuce leaves. Then I sandwiched some cheddar cheese slices between salami slices and cooked it on a skillet so that the cheese melted. This I placed on the leaves and topped with a fried egg. Delish!! (I confess, it was my son’s idea).

kummelweck sandwichThe rolls are best eaten fresh as they were crusty when they came out of the oven but the humidity got the better of them. By evening the leftover rolls had softened.

You could make a Vienna roll or Salt and Pepper sticks with the same dough. Theses variations are given below.

If you like, there is this video on making these rolls that you could watch.

Kümmelweck (Kimmelweck) Rolls

4 large rolls

Kümmelweck (Kimmelweck)  Rolls

These rolls have a hard crust and soft crumb. Ideal for making a sandwich.

For the Rolls:
1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup warm milk
1 bsp oil
1/2 Tbsp honey
1 egg white (optional) - I omitted it and added a tablespoon more of milk
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups bread flour* (+ a couple tablespoons if required)
Egg wash (optional)- I used milk
Coarse sea salt and caraway seeds (I used black cumin seeds
*To substitute for bread flour add 1/2 tbsp of vital wheat gluten to the flour. If you don't have wheat gluten, proceed with plain all-purpose flour.
To make Rolls:
Place the warm water and milk in a mixing bowl and stir in the yeast.
Set aside for 5-10 minutes till the mixture is frothy.
Add the honey, oil, and egg-white (if using) to the yeast mixture and combine.
Add salt and 1 1/2 cup of flour and knead.
Add more flour if the dough is too sticky.
Knead till you have a smooth, elastic and tacky, but not sticky, dough.
Shape into a ball and place in a well oiled bowl.
At this stage I refrigerated the dough.
If you want to proceed directly, cover with a towel and leave till the dough is almost double in volume.
Knock down the dough gently, form into a round, and cover loosely and leave to rise for another 30 minutes.
Divide into 4 equal pieces and shape each into a smooth ball and flatten slightly.
If you have refrigerated the dough, remove from fridge and divide into 4 and shape
Place them on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet.
Spray or lightly brush with oil, cover loosely and let them rise for another 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 220C/425F.
Brush with egg wash or milk, then cut slits like a + with a shape knife or kitchen scissors.
Sprinkle the sea salt and caraway/black cumin seeds on top.
Mist with water and place in the oven.
After 5 minutes, mist them quickly once again with water, do not keep the oven door open for too long.
Bake for another 20 minutes or till they are brown an done.
Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
For the Vienna Loaf:
Follow the above recipe but with the following changes –
After the second rise, divide the dough in half and shape each half into an oval with tapered ends.
After the final rise, apply the egg wash or milk and then slash the top with a 1/2" deep lengthwise slit.
Leave out the salt and caraway seeds.
Bake at 200C (400F) for about 35 minutes, including the 5 minutes after spritzing with water.
For the Salt and Pepper Sticks:
Again follow the above recipe for the rolls, but make the following changes –
Leave out the second rise and do only the first rise.
After that, divide the dough into 13 equal pieces.
Roll each piece out into a 12" rope of even thickness, and place them 1-1/2" apart on the greased or lined bakng sheet.
Let them rise now.
Apply the egg wash or milk, but do not make any cuts.
Sprinkle with coarse sea salt crystals and coarsely ground or cracked black pepper. Do not spritz with water and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes.