The theme at our house this week has been "yeast breads with things baked on top". I've been making Conchas (more on those later) and Dutch Crunch Bread. Also known as Tiger Bread or Giraffe Bread, it gets its name from the pattern of the crunchy baked on topping. From what I've read Dutch Crunch Bread is a California thing, particularly popular in San Francisco. However, Dutch Crunch Bread is not sourdough. And unlike Conchas, Dutch Crunch Bread is not sweet. It's more of a lunch or dinner bread or something you'd make as rolls for sandwiches. The crunchy top not only looks interesting, but adds texture and flavor.Jump to Recipe
How to Make Dutch Crunch Bread
Making Dutch Crunch Bread is pretty simple if you know how to make basic yeast breads. There are different recipes, some with milk and some with water, but they're all similar and most don't require a sponge or pre-ferment. You just mix everything together in a stand mixer, let rise, shape into large loaves or small buns, then spread a rice flour mixture on top for the crunchy topping.
To make the crunchy top, you mix together a little rice flour, sugar, salt, yeast, water and oil -- neutral, olive or sesame. You then spoon this rice flour mixture over the top of the loaf during the second rise. As it bakes it forms the crackly topping which inspired the jungle-themed names of Tiger Bread and Giraffe Bread.
No Rice Flour?
I order super fine rice flour pretty regularly now, but there was a time when I had to make my own. It doesn't always work as well as commercial, but I think it would be okay for Dutch Crunch Bread. Just put about 30 to 35 grams of rice in a spice or coffee grinder and grind it to a fine powder. Regular all-purpose flour is not a good substitute.
Dutch Crunch Bread Ingredients
Here's quick rundown of the ingredients I use for this loaf.
- King Arthur Bread Flour or All Purpose or Bob's Artisan -- I keep the artisan type flour on hand for pretzel making, so it's nice to have another way to use it. The extra gluten helps prevent the loaves from spreading and gives a slightly thicker crust. Bread flour also works, and you could probably even use all-purpose for a softer and less crusty bread. For rolls, the all-purpose works best for a softer crumb.
- Active Dry Yeast or Instant -- Both types of yeast work. It takes a little longer to rise with active dry. If using instant yeast, just mix the yeast with the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and use water that is about 130 degrees F. That's lot warmer than you'd use if you were proofing yeast directly in water, but since the yeast is mixed in with the flour and other ingredient it needs the extra warmth to rise quicker. Or at least this has been my experience.
- Sugar -- There's just enough to enhance flavor. The bread shouldn't be too sweet.
- Ginger -- This is supposed to help the rise, and I like how it adds a tiny hint of flavor that people probably won't identify as ginger. It's completely optional.
- Salt -- Morton kosher. If using Diamond increase by half. You can leave it out of the topping if you like. I add it and it does not seem to impede the action of the yeast in the topping.
- Butter -- Tiger Bread and Giraffe Bread work with salted or unsalted butter.
- Extra Fine White Rice Flour - I use the very fine type from Vitacost or Anthony's. Brown rice flour should also be fine.
- Sesame Oil -- Sesame oil adds a distinct flavor, so if you are not a fan you can use a different oil. Garlic oil adds a little blast of garlic flavor if you plan on using the rolls for savory sandwiches.
Dutch Crunch Bread
- ⅔ cup warm water plus more as needed 110-120 degrees (175 grams)
- 1 ⅛ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 cups bread flour or 2 cups plus 2T. all-purpose flour (280 grams)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ginger (optional)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
- ¼ cup extra fine white rice flour (30 grams)
- ½ tablespoon sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast plus an extra tiny little pinch
- 2-3 tablespoons water, slightly warm
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil, garlic oil or any other vegetable oil (olive)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the warm water and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Add the yeast and let stand for about 10 minutes or until water becomes slightly foamy and you see bubbles.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar, flour, salt, ginger and softened butter. Mix by hand with a heavy duty scraper or spoon just until blended. It should be fairly dry at this point.
- Set the mixing bowl on the stand mixer with the dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes or until dough appears smooth and elastic and is pulling away from the bowl. Add a splash more water if needed. Alternatively, if dough seems sticky or loose sprinkle in more flour. I've always used a total of 280 grams, so if you go by weight you should be fine with the amount given.
- Transfer to a bowl slicked with a little oil or greased with butter. Cover and let rise until doubled (about an hour).
- When the dough has risen, punch down and shape into one large or two smaller ovals. For rolls, shape into 5 or 6 rounds. Shape carefully so that the bread will rise and not flatten. To do this, press your dough sections into rectangles or ovals and roll downward into cylinders, turning down top corners as you roll and pressing out air. Pinch tightly together.
- Cover very loosely with greased plastic wrap for the second rise.
- Prepare the rice flour paste.
- Mix together rice flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Add 1 tablespoon of just slightly warm water and the teaspoon oil and stir until smooth. Continue adding more water until the consistency is a thick paste. The consistency should be such that you can push it off a spoon onto the dough and gently spread it. Let rice paste covered dough rise uncovered for the remainder of the hour. During this time, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Two loaves will take between 30 and 35, while the one large loaf will be around 40. 5 or 6 rolls will take around 25 minutes depending on how you brown and crispy you want the crust.