Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!
I was excited about this month’s challenge, even more so than usual, because it fit right in with The Year of Bread and gave me another kind of bread to try, one that I’d never even considered making even though I love it – tiger bread. Now, before we go any further, I’m not sure if the tiger bread that we get in the UK is the same as Dutch crunch; it does look similar but I’m fairly sure ours has cheese in it, plus the texture seems quite different. Maybe it’s just down to how fresh the bread is? Regardless, it was a lot of fun learning about this new technique and seeing everyone’s results in the Daring Bakers forum.
Dutch crunch isn’t a loaf in its own right, but rather it’s any loaf with a special topping applied before baking, which gives it the characteristic crackled finish. I usually link to the DB recipe PDF, but since the recipe is so short I’ll copy it out here, too. You can apply this topping to any loaf, though more fragile breads will be weighed down by it. I had good success by applying the topping immediately before baking.
Dutch Crunch or Tiger Bread Topping (makes enough to coat about six rolls or one loaf):
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup rice flour (not glutinous rice flour; this is important)
Whisk all the ingredients together n a jug to form a thick but pourable paste. It should drip off your whisk when lifted out of the jug, rather than run in a stream. I noticed that it was almost like one of those mixtures of cornflour and water that are so cool to make – a non-Newtonian liquid, if you want to be clever about it (which I so often do). You know, when you mix cornflour with the right amount of water it becomes liquid when left alone but solid when you touch it? So that you can fill a swimming pool with the stuff and then walk over it, as long as you walk fast enough? If you don’t believe me just watch this:
Anyway that’s the consistency you’re looking for – thick and almost solid while you’re stirring it. I tried to show what I mean with these pictures.
Once you’ve whisked the topping together, let it sit for fifteen minutes. It will rise and puff up, so you’ll see lots of bubbles at the side and if you run a spoon through the surface, it’ll leave a gap.
Then, just before you bake your bread or rolls, apply a thick layer of the topping to the formed bread. So if you’re making rolls, like I did, let the dough rise, shape it into rolls, then let them rise again (as indicated by your recipe) before putting the topping on and putting them straight in the oven. It’s best to pour it on and then guide it into shape, if necessary, with the back of a spoon or a spatula. You want a nice thick layer to get the desired results, so don’t be afraid to slap it on there. Here’s how my rolls looked:
The topping cracks and browns in the oven, giving you the final result of crisp, slightly sweet and decoratively finished bread.
The challenge also called for a one of a kind sandwich – I sort of missed the fact that it was supposed to be one of a kind and went for very ordinary but so tempting turkey salad. I layered rocket, halved tiny tomatoes and roast turkey breast on the roll, topped with an understated smidgen of mayonnaise (Heinz mayonnaise, it’s the best one apart from home made) and enjoyed. I looked forward to my lunch all morning, and it did not disappoint.
A note on rice flour: I have never had trouble buying rice flour when I’ve needed it; my last batch came from the ‘World Foods’ section of my local supermarket, but I’ve also bought it from Indian grocers, where I also buy most of my spices because you can buy them in bulk, for a much better price. I’ve seen it in the Chinese supermarket too, but be careful not to buy glutinous, sticky or sweet rice flour – this is a different thing and will not give you the result you’re after. Finally, you can grind your own rice flour from white or brown rice, as I did to make sesame prawn pancakes. If all else fails you can probably rely on the internet to procure some.
A note to my fellow Daring Bakers in the UK and Europe – have you heard about Foodie Penpals? Follow the link to find out more – it’s a parcel swap scheme with fellow foodies, you get to send and receive foodie parcels and make new blogging friends! Join up today and you’ll be matched with a penpal on the 5th of April – that’s next week! There’s no time like the present, and no present like a parcel full of thoughtful foodie gifts.