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”.
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).
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.