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!
If I had to name types of food that I absolutely could not do without (we’re talking on an ordinary, day-to-day, basic-nutritional-needs-taken-care-of basis, not a desert island scenario), I would have to go for chocolate and bread, with cheese close behind (if I had to survive on a desert island, I’d probably go for black beans, or some other kind of legume). Chocolate is just essential to my well-being – and, according to this New York Times article, it might actually not be as bad for the waistline as you may think, quite the opposite in fact! And I tend to rely on homemade sandwiches for lunch, which makes bread an absolute necessity. Even at the peak of the Atkins craze, I knew I would never be able to go without bread.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I was pretty much raised on what my family calls “American bread”: you know, the white, milky, somewhat sweet, super soft, practically crustless slices that melt in your mouth and barely require chewing. When I visited my Belgian grandmother during the summer, she always had rather heartier bread at the table, and had to literally force me to eat the crust. She would cut it into bite-sized pieces and put jam on every piece, to make it go down easier, but it still felt like I was chewing jam-laden cardboard. I’m pretty sure the bread itself was actually perfectly good: I just wasn’t used to it.
Well, since then, I’ve diversified my tastes in bread. My ideal bread is probably something with a super crisp crust and a cool, white crumb (I’m totally picturing Chad Robertson’s bread right now), but I’ve also learned to appreciate chewier bread such as fougasse, along with hearty whole wheat and fragrant sourdough. But, while I’ve definitely weaned myself off “American bread,” part of me still salivates in front of a pillowy, milk-based roll.
So this month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge was kind of a revelation for me. I had never, not once, heard of Dutch crunch bread, also known as tiger bread. It’s apparently a staple of the San Francisco Bay area. The concept reminded me of Japanese melon bread (melonpan): the bread is baked covered with a layer of something else. In the case of melonpan, it’s cookie dough; with tiger bread, it’s rice flour paste.
I made the regular, white flour based bread. The process was no more difficult than making any other bread, and I was satisfied with the final look of my tiger bread: the top layer was nice and crackled, as it should be. Apparently, Paprika the cat also approved.
But as I sat munching on my chicken salad sandwich (made with leftover shredded chicken, diced celery, mayonnaise, and celery salt – not the most photogenic mixture, but so good!), I was struck with the perfect contrast of textures: the soft dough and crunchy topping made for an absolute delight. The crust was crispy and crackly, something even my child self would have loved. It would’ve made a great transition bread.
A small tip: after a day of storage in a paper bag, the topping had lost some of its crisp. But a few minutes in a low-heat oven brought the crunch right back.