Dutch Crunch Bread – Daring Baker’s Challenge March 2012
I have ranted endlessly on this blog about my love for bread. Especially baked bread at home, with the yeasty aromas wafting through the house. And then to take a bite of the still warm bread with butter, ah! that’s pure bliss!! I am always on the lookout for new ways to make bread and this month’s daring baker’s challenge was a perfect adventure. I have never even heard of Dutch crunch before, but I was totally impressed by the photos on Sara & Erica’s blog Baking JD’s. They are the hostesses for this month’s challenge and have introduced us to a wonderful variety of bread. It’s a common option at sandwich shops all over the Bay Area and is often one of the first breads to run out.
Dutch crunch is not exactly a kind of bread. It rather refers to the crispy topping on the bread. In Dutch it’s called Tijgerbrood or “tiger bread” after the tiger-like shell on the bread when it comes out of the oven. The final product has a delightful sweet crunch to it that makes it perfect for a sandwich roll. I am not exactly a fan of crisp bread, but I was curious about this one. We use rice flour a lot in Indian cooking and I am familiar with the taste and texture. But I was not sure how it will taste as a topping on this bread. And well what do I say, it was a pleasant surprise!! Though it was a bit too crispy for my taste, I would still like to bake this occasionally, especially for sandwiches. Learn more about the history of Dutch Crunch bread, particularly in the Bay Area, here (http://www.baycitizen.org/food/interactive/dutch-crunch/) and here (http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/2010/11/dutch_crunch_according_to_nick.php) and here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_bread). The recipe for this Dutch Crunch topping came from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible.
The Challenge: We had to make the Dutch crunch topping and use it on our choice of bread or roll. Then we must use the roll to create a sandwich.
The main ingredient in the Dutch crunch topping is the rice flour. I do understand that rice flour is not available so easily. But here’s a quick tip, before you go searching and ordering the rice flour online, check your local Indian grocery store. All Indian grocery stores carry rice flour and it is quite inexpensive. If you don’t have access to an Indian store, you may check for it in the organic/gluten free specialty food stores or online.
I chose to make the Soft White roll recipe provided by Sara & Erica, as I thought it would be perfect for this crunchy topping. The sandwich is simple, but hearty. I made a chickpeas and vegetable patty and paired it with roasted garlic mayo and some lovely, ripe beefsteak tomatoes.
For the Dutch Crunch topping:
(I halved the following recipe because I made only half of the bread rolls with the crunchy topping)
Active Dry Yeast – 2 tsp
Warm Water (105-115º F) – 1 cup
Sugar – 2 Tbsp
Vegetable/Canola oil – 2 Tbsp
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Rice flour – 1 1/2 cups (Read notes about rice flour above)
For the Soft White Rolls:
(Slightly modified Sara & Erica’s recipe)
Active dry yeast – 2 1/4 tsp
Warm water – 1/2 cup
Warm Milk – 1 cup
Sugar – 1 1/2 Tbsp
Vegetable Oil/Olive oil – 2 Tbsp
Salt – 1 1/2 tsp
All purpose flour – 3 1/2 cups to 4 cups
For the Dutch Crunch topping:
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a whisk; beat hard to combine. The consistency should be like stiff royal icing – spreadable, but not too runny. If you pull some up with your whisk, as shown below, it should drip off slowly. Add more water or rice flour as necessary. Let stand 15 minutes.
- Coat the top of each loaf or roll with a thick layer of topping. We tried coating it with a brush but it worked better just to use fingers or a spoon and kind of spread it around. You should err on the side of applying too much topping – a thin layer will not crack properly.
- Let stand, uncovered, for any additional time your recipe recommends. With the Soft White Roll, you can place the rolls directly into the oven after applying the topping. With the Brown Rice Bread, the loaves should stand for 20 minutes with the topping before baking.
- When baking, place pans on a rack in the center of the oven and bake your bread as you ordinarily would. The Dutch Crunch topping should crack and turn a nice golden-brown color.
For the Soft White Rolls:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer or large mixing bowl, combine yeast, water, milk and sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit for about 5 minutes (The mixture should start to bubble or foam a bit and smell yeasty).
- Add in vegetable oil, salt and 2 cups of flour. Using the dough hook attachment or a wooden spoon, mix at medium speed until the dough comes together. (The photo to the right is with the first 2 cups of flour added).
- Add remaining flour a quarter cup at time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, as shown in the photo below (For me, this usually required an additional 1½ to 2 cups of flour).
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 4 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
- Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled (or more) in size
- Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 6 equal portions (if you’d like to make rolls) or 2 equal portions (if you’d like to make a loaf) (using a sharp knife or a dough scraper works well). Shape each into a ball or loaf and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (try not to handle the dough too much at this point).
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes while you prepare the topping.
- Coat the top of each roll or loaf with the topping as described above. While the original recipe recommends letting them stand for 20 minutes after applying the topping, I got better results by putting them directly into the oven.
- Once you’ve applied the topping, bake in a preheated moderately hot 380ºF/190°C/gas mark 5 for 25-30 minutes, until well browned. Let cool completely on a wire rack before eating.
Verdict: When I first saw the pics of the Dutch crunch bread, I was not too excited. I thought the rice flour will harden up and will form a very tough shell. But I was totally wrong, the crust was not all hard, but pleasantly crisp. And I loved the grand appearance of the bread, it looks like leopard’s skin rather than a tiger’s. I am sure this is a fun recipe for kids, they’ll love it!!
For the sandwich, I made some chickpeas and vegetable patties and made a roasted garlic mayo sauce to go with it. I served the patties on toasted dutch crunch bread, with some amazing, juicy beefsteak tomatoes and pepper jack cheese. I’ll post the recipe for the patties and the sauce in the next post or this post will become too lengthy.