Why This Recipe Works: Originally from Austria, these crusty deli-style rolls are perfect for overstuffed sandwiches or for dipping into soup. Consistently disappointed by pale, dry, store-bought versions, we set out to re-create the thin, crisp, golden exterior; moist, sturdy crumb; and signature rosette shape of the real thing. To start, we chose higher-protein bread flour to achieve a roll that was tender yet could support mounds of deli meat. One egg and a bit of vegetable oil reinforced the tenderness and added richness. Many traditional recipes call for malt syrup to add a layer of sweetness and to boost browning, but tasters preferred the subtle flavor of white sugar. To achieve a deep golden sheen without the malt, we brushed on an egg wash before baking. While many delis imprint their rolls with a special stamp, we opted for the traditional rosette shaping method, which was easy with our supple dough, and it didn’t require us to purchase extra equipment.
Makes: 12 rolls
Rising time: 1½ to 2½ hours
Baking time: 30 minutes
Total time: 3¼ to 4¼ hours, plus 1 hour cooling time
Key equipment: 2 rimmed baking sheets, pastry brush
5 cups (27½ ounces) bread flour
4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups (16 ounces) water, room temperature
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg, room temperature
4 teaspoons sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water and pinch salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds (optional)
1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk water, oil, egg, and sugar in 4-cup liquid measuring cup until sugar has dissolved.
2. Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add water mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Increase speed to medium-low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl but sticks to bottom, about 8 minutes.
3. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 1½ hours.
4. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Press down on dough to deflate. Transfer dough to clean counter. Press and stretch dough into 12 by 6-inch rectangle, with long side parallel to counter edge.
5. Using pizza cutter or chef’s knife, cut dough vertically into 12 (6 by 1-inch) strips and cover loosely with greased plastic.
6. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time (keep remaining pieces covered), stretch and roll into 14-inch rope.
7. Shape rope into U with 2-inch-wide bottom curve and ends facing away from you.
8. Tie ends into single overhand knot, with 1½-inch open loop at bottom.
9. Wrap 1 tail over loop and press through opening from top. Wrap other tail under loop and pinch ends together to seal.
10. Arrange rolls pinched side down on prepared sheets, spaced about 3 inches apart. Cover loosely with greased plastic and let rise until nearly doubled in size and dough springs back minimally when poked gently with your knuckle, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
11. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Gently brush rolls with egg mixture and sprinkle with poppy seeds, if using. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking.
12. Transfer rolls to wire racks and let cool completely, about 1 hour, before serving.
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