Dutch Crunch (Tiger Bread)
The artisan bread wave that has swept the country over the past several years has developed a few particularly active hot spots, mostly on the coasts. One of those is in northern California, especially around San Francisco. It’s where you’ll find Chad Robertson and the Tartine Bakery, Josey Baker (yes, that is his real name), and a burgeoning toast economy.
This summer I learned from friends who live in San Francisco that one popular loaf there is Dutch Crunch, known in some places as Tiger Bread. Before baking the bread is topped with a mixture of yeast, sugar, and rice flour. As it bakes the mixture expands, cracks, and develops a deliciously crunchy top. Where the Tiger Bread name comes from should now be apparent, the Dutch Crunch is explained by the fact that the bread is thought to have originated in the Netherlands.
Dutch Crunch isn’t exactly new to San Francisco, bakers in the city have been churning out loaves of it for more than 100 years. What I really like about the bread is that the topping is what makes it distinct, which means that you can use a wide variety of dough recipes for the base. Most often the bread is made into longer thin sandwich loaves but I opted for rolls. I used the same dough recipe that I used for my garlic knots; a double batch of that made 8 nicely sized rolls.
Though I was very happy with the finished product I didn’t get as crackly of a crust as I was hoping for. After I first made the rice flour mixture I was worried that it had too much liquid, so I added a bit more flour. By the time I was ready to bake the rolls the mixture was too thick, and didn’t run down the sides of the bread. So I had to do a more forceful job of spreading the mixture, which took some of the rise out of the dough. I think if it had been a thinner consistency it would have both spread easier and expanded more when baking, leading to a better aesthetic. So learn from my mistakes and give it a try! Like I mentioned above this works with any standard bread dough, so feel free to change things up if you want something different.
- 1½ cups water
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 3½ cups bread flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- ⅔ cup rice flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl combine all dough ingredients. Knead for 5-7 minutes on medium speed or 9-10 minutes by hand. Shape the dough into a ball and let rise covered in a lightly oiled bowl until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats, then dust lightly with flour.
- When ready turn dough out onto a floured work surface and divide into eight even pieces.
- Work each piece of dough into a ball, stretching the dough to a point to create a tight seam. Place seam side down on the baking sheet, then repeat with the other pieces of dough.
- Lightly dust the tops of the dough with flour, then cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about another hour.
- After leaving the rolls to rise prepare the topping. In a medium mixing bowl combine all topping ingredients. Cover and let rise for an hour.
- Towards the end of the rising period preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Pour about ½ cup of the mixture onto the top of each roll. Use a spatula to lightly spread the mixture if necessary. Make sure that all of the roll is covered with the mixture.
- Bake the rolls for 14-16 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.