Friday, June 25, 2010

Fun with Yeast: Dutch Crunch Bread

San Francisco may be well known for its sourdough, but don't think the city's yeasty traditions end there. Unknown in origin, Bay Area sandwich and bread lovers have lusted after Dutch crunch bread for decades.  Before baking, the dough is covered in a thick rice flour batter that cracks as it bakes. This "crunch" is slightly sweet and crispy, turning the dense (yet moist and soft) bread into something special. I know I'm not the only one who strips her bread of its crunch before eating. It's just really good.

Until recently I had no idea what this bread was called. A few weeks ago, Jo was tweeting about Dutch crunch. Curious, I asked her what it was and then proceeded to look it up. I had eaten this bread before--a lot. I used to eat Dutch crunch all the time in Berkeley. It was in the grocery stores and at the sandwich shops I frequented, but I don't think I ever learned its name. If I did, its disappearance from my life over the last four and a half years had erased it from my mind. See, it's really hard to find Dutch crunch in other cities. I've never seen it in Los Angeles, DC or the Midwest. None of my friends from different parts of the country know what it is. They do, however, eat it in the Netherlands and the UK, where it's known as tiger bread. So when we became reacquainted in San Francisco two weeks ago, I knew I had to find a way to keep Dutch crunch in my life forever.

And thus begun today's bread making adventure. I am delighted to announce that I found the recipe on first try. The texture and taste are perfect and it made a great base for my chicken sandwich. I'm trying really hard not to go back into the kitchen and eat one of the leftover rolls. I might just hide one before I go to bed...

Dutch Crunch Bread

(Makes 8 Rolls)

Bread (From Baking Bites)
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk

1 Tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt

2.5 - 3.5 cups all purpose flour

 (From The Bread Bible)
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup white rice flour

1. Place sugar and yeast along with the warm water, warm milk and oil in your mixer bowl. Mix for 30 seconds and let sit a few minutes until dissolved.

2. Mix salt with  2 1/4 cups flour and to the bowl, mixing on medium until the dough comes together.

3. Switch to dough hook and slowly add the last 1 1/4 cup until bowl pulls away from the side of the bowl. I ended up adding a total of 2 3/4 cups.

4. Turn mixer to medium and knead until tacky and smooth. Alternatively, you can do this step by hand.

5. Place dough in an oiled container and let rise until it has doubled, approximately an hour.

6. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Shape into 8 balls and place on lined baking sheet, and cover. Let sit for 15 minutes. (I ended up with 8 balls of approximately 90 grams each.)

7. In the meantime, mix up topping. Dissolve yeast and sugar in water. Add in vegetable oil. Then rice flour. Whisk all ingredients together until you get a thick cake batter-like consistency. It should be smooth. Let sit for the rest of the 15 minutes, plus another 10 minutes.

8. Rolls should have risen a little bit by this point. With a brush, spread topping all over each of the rolls. This should be done in a thick layer. Brush a generous layer on each roll. Then brush a second layer on each roll, using up all of the batter. This step is why you need parchment or a silpat on your baking sheet.

 My dad thought these were some sort of dim sum filled buns.

9. Let rolls rise for another 20 minutes until puffy. In the meantime, preheat oven to 350F.

10. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool. You must let them cool--the topping tastes a bit weird until it's completely set and cooled.


Isabelle said...

I've seen Dutch crunch bread in the grocery store here in Canada (probably one of those things we picked up from the Brits, like Marmite and golden syrup). I've never seen it in bun format, though, which seems like it would have a better crunch-to-bread ratio. I'll have to see if I can find some rice flour so that I can try this one out for myself!

steve said...

I've never heard of this before but I probably ate it in Holland and didn't realize it's name not speaking the language. An bread is fine with me.

Jean said...

I loooove dutch crunch bread, especially when toasted. It's so cool that you made your own. Didn't even know the bread's history until now, and I live in the Bay Area. Thanks for the education!

Kathy Gori said...

OMG!! This is what I eat all the time at The Basque Boulangerie in Sonoma, I grew up eating this bread in San Francisco and I've never seen it anywhere else. Thanks so much!!

Shree said...

wow this sounds like fun! I don't believe I've eaten this before. I am curious enough to make it! Thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

I have seen these here in Los Angeles, at Ralphs grocery. they are simply labeled crunch rolls, and yes they are tasty, I always assumed there was cornmeal in the dough.

Dina said...

i love hearing about regional specialties, and i've never heard of dutch crunch bread before. great topic. thanks!

steph said...

this is so interesting. I've never seen Dutch Crunch Bread - I am going to have to give this a try! So cool!

grace said...

this sounds awesome! as i become braver and braver in dealing with yeast, i'm looking forward to attempting nifty things like this. :)

Baking Barrister said...

@Isabelle - we get it mostly in bun or hoagie shapes here. I've never seen a full loaf of it before--probably because of the whole crunch-bread ratio

@Steve - tigerbrot? I hate not knowing the name of things I ate abroad when all I want to do is recreate them.

@Jean - no prob! I think we take things for granted when they just ARE.

@Kathy - I'm glad to be of service. I wonder, if as a native SFer, you would condone a sourdough bread with the topping?

@Shree - you should do it! It's one of the easier breads I've made and it looks impressive.

@Anonymous - Different Ralphs carry different things since they have three levels of stores. My Ralphs doesn't carry pastries from Diamond's Bakery on Fairfax, but I know the one on National does. I guess the ones near me just don't have it. Which Ralphs do you go to?

@Dina & Steph - Always happy to share new foods. Definitely try it out.

@Grace - I just taught someone how to bake a basic bread. I explain yeast thusly: Yeast is a living organism and kind of like most humans it hates being really cold; it hates being really hot; but room temperature is perfect. And too much salt will kill it. The first step to using yeast is providing it with the right kind of environment in which to feed. Once you get that down, there are enough Youtube videos out there to show you how to shape and knead.

Lisa said...

This bread looks really interesting, I've never seen it before!

debbie said...

German bakeries here in Milwaukee (the Wisconsin version) make this. It's called dutchy crust here. I love making my own bread and am really happy to learn the secret of dutchy crust making. Thanks for the post!

Joan said...

WHOA! I just made these tonight and it is my first time hearing of this bread (I'm in NH). Not only easy to make (photos are great) but tastes amazing. I will make these again and again.
Thanks for sharing it,

Dutch Milkmaid said...

This is a favourite with Dutch children. We call it tigerbread in Holland, although cheetahbread would have been more accurate. My sister used to pick off all the crunchy bits and leave the naked bread for the rest of the family...

Anonymous said...

I'm 68 as a kid of about 10 there was a bakery between Whitecenter and Burien on 1st Avenue South outside Seattle Wa. They made Dutch Crunch Bread, he baked it once a week and sold it on Saturday morning, opening at 8:00 am he was sold out by 8:30 am. People from all over came his were in sandwich loaf size. He sliced them as he sold them loading them into paper bags. Everything old is new again it seems.

John Herrmann said...

I'm the 68 year old anonymous of October 13 above. I've made about 4 batches of these now. One a double batch that I baked as a large round loaf. I changed the dough to my own which warms the milk and adds 1/4 cup of potato flakes ... gives the dough a richer flavor. I bake the buns in an oven preheated to 400F and reduce it to 325F as I place the buns into the oven. I bake to an internal temperature of 205F to 210F. They come out beautiful, wonderful crunchy tops and perfect toothy bread. Make a ham sandwich and know heaven on earth. Maintaining the crunch is a bit of a problem but they vanish so quickly I haven't had to find a solution.

Baking Barrister said...

John! Wish you'd left your e-mail. The topping is great on any white loaf of bread. So here's how I keep mine crunchier:

Plastic containers & regular plastic ziplocks don't let bread breathe. It needs to breathe otherwise it absorbs any moisture caught in the sealed off packaging, making the crust soft. To keep your bread soft, try a paper bag. Consider also saving any of the plastic bags that you purchase your other breads in and reusing those. I know my bagel place gives us tons of bags when we buy a few dozen. You could probably even lift some from the grocery store.

Anonymous said...

In England it's called Tiger Bread, in Holland, it's called Tijerbrod ... the colour variation resembling a tiger. I've heard of one child who wrote to Tesco supermarkets saying it should be called Giraffe bread, since he figured that the blotches looked more like the patterns on a giraffe rather than a tiger's stripes!

Our new local supermarket does Dutch Crunch, but they paint on a mixture AFTER the bread has parcooked, so the crunch doesn't unite with the top of the bread dough ... and so the texture's wrong.

All our local supermarkets seem to produce generic white bread and then modify it to turn it into some other kind of bread ... like French bread ... generic light bread with the crust cut diagonally across ... Italian bread ... same generic light bread with the crust having a single cut along the length, and then take the same generic bread, coat it in the last part of the bake with crunch and call it Dutch Crunch. It's hard to get genuine breads.

kirk from Benicia said...

Great recipe, I just made these Dutch Crunch rolls and they are quite tasty. Well done

Gail's Card Cafe' said...

This was the challenge this month at the Daring Bakers and because yours looked so beautiful I used your recipe :) It was so yummy!

Shu Han said...

I came across this in a bakery a while ago, and have been so curious about this. Hardly anyone's written much about it at all, let alone how to make it. So realy glad to have found your blog! Lovely stuff all round! x

Rebecca said...

hi can I find out how to store these whether they can be frozen n refreshed?

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