San Francisco is known for many things. The Golden Gate Bridge, the cable car, the winding Lombard Street, Rice-A-Roni, and of course, sourdough bread.
So when I was trying my hand at creating Dutch Crunch Bread, I thought it was the right thing to use a sourdough starter. Besides, once again my starter is starting to accumulate in my fridge, taking up precious space.
What is Dutch Crunch Bread?
Dutch Crunch Bread is a type of bread popular in the Bay Area and is so named because of its Dutch origin and its signature crunchy and crackly coating.
Dutch Crunch Bread is also known by many other names. In the Netherlands, where it originates, it’s called Tijgerbrood (Tiger bread) or Tijgerbol (Tiger roll).
The US supermarket chain Wegmans calls it Marco Polo Bread, and at one time even offered the bagel version in their store bakery.
In England, a little girl wrote a letter to the Sainsbury’s supermarket chain to have the bread renamed Giraffe Bread, and Sainsbury’s agreed.
I, too, agree! That little girl is so perceptive! That’s the most appropriate name for this bread. The crunchy pattern on top of the bread does look distinctively giraffe-like.
In the future, I think I’ll refer to this Dutch Crunch Bread as Giraffe Bread instead.
Besides, I love giraffes. Did you know giraffes only sleep for several minutes every few hours? I learned that from reading a book to second graders!
Here I go, going off on a tangent again. We’re not talking about giraffe the animal, but giraffe the bread.
What Makes the Crunch?
The crunchy topping on the bread is achieved by applying a paste made essentially with rice flour, water, yeast, and oil. Salt and sugar may be included to add flavor.
The paste is applied just prior to baking, and as the bread bakes and expands, the paste crackles and becomes crispy.
Do you have to use sourdough?
No, you don’t. Most recipes don’t call for sourdough starter. Yeast (dry active, instant, or fresh) can be used in place of the sourdough starter.
Besides the crunchy exterior, Dutch Crunch Bread is described by many as having a soft interior crumb that’s slightly sweet. Yeast, and an addition of sugar, will likely help achieve this. My sourdough version has a more robust crumb and is slightly chewy. But it’s not dense like a bagel or pretzel. It stands better at being stuffed than a soft-crumb bread would. It also has that slight tang of sourdough that makes it extra flavorful.
How To Serve Dutch Crunch Bread?
Now comes the fun part. On its own, this bread is already very tasty. The crunchy topping, and the fact that it’s also a sourdough make this bread very flavorful. No bland bread here. Warm from the oven, and maybe with just a little bit of butter, it makes a wonderful snack.
But, of course, you can always turn it into a slider. Nobody can resist a slider. Not one with a crunchy topping like this.
On the other hand, if you really want to make an impression, you stuff your Giraffe Bread.
Remember when I made my Stuffed Meatballs in Guinness Gravy? Well, I had extra meatball mix and decided to stuff my dough with it. Boomshakalaka! As my son would say, lol.
But I save the best for last. Today is the day after St. Patrick’s Day, so what else is taking up residence in my fridge? Leftover corned beef, that’s what. Hello! Perfect for stuffing the dough!
I also happened to have homemade purple cabbage sauerkraut on hand. And sliced cheese is always around. So, look, they found themselves stuffed inside the Giraffe!
Now, if only I had planned this ahead of time, I would have added rye flour to the dough and then served the corned beef-stuffed bread with Russian dressing, to create a Stuffed Reuben Dutch Crunch! Shut the front door! Quick, buy more corned beef, and rye flour!
- 150 g (3/4 cup) warm milk or water
- 300 g (2½ cups) bread or whole wheat flour
- 100 g (1/2 cup) sourdough starter (active and recently fed)
- 1 egg
- 3 g (1/2 teaspoon) salt
- 55g (1/4 cup) softened butter
- ⅓ cup warm water
- ½ cup rice flour
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dry active yeast
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- The night before baking, start making the bread dough. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the warm milk/water, flour, sourdough starter, and egg.
- Using the dough attachment, start mixing and kneading the dough until the liquid is completely absorbed into the flour. The dough will look very sticky.
- Continue the kneading process, adding salt, and softened butter, one tablespoon at a time. At first, the butter may look like it wasn't going to mix, but eventually, it'll blend in with the dough, which should form into a glossy ball. This should take about 5 minutes or so.
- The dough will be sticky to the touch. You can add 1 - 2 tablespoons of flour if you feel that it's too sticky.
- Use a dough scraper to transfer the dough into a buttered bowl. Cover with a tight-fitting lid or plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight. The dough will rise slowly, developing its sourdough flavor.
- The next day, when you're ready to bake, take the dough out. It should be close to double in size. You can work with it while it's still cold; it's less sticky that way. But you can also let it rest to come to room temperature before handling it.
- Scrape the dough onto a floured surface and divide into 10 equal portions. Roll them into balls. You can stuff them with the optional stuffing ideas. * See Notes
- Place balls on a baking sheet lined with Silpat or parchment. Cover and let them rise until they're nearly doubled in size, about 1 - 2 hours.
- Before you're ready to place them in the oven, make the topping paste by mixing all the ingredients together. Let it rest for several minutes to activate the yeast.
- Heat your oven to 400°F.
- Using a spoon or brush, "paint" each dough ball with the paste, spreading it all around (See photo in the post). Place in the oven, and bake for 20 minutes, or until the topping looks brown and crackly. Serve warm.
What’s the difference between rolls and buns?
If you think I had a hard time deciding between Gado Gado Rolls and Gado Gado Wraps, I had a harder time deciding whether to call these bread rolls or bread buns. What’s the difference, anyway? Does anybody know? In the end, I didn’t commit one way or another. They’re just bread, that’s what they ended up being.
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