Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dutch Crunch

This spotted spread was unanimously called Tiger Bread up until about a year ago when a nine-year-old British girl wrote to Sainsbury (a supermarket chain in the UK) suggesting that it be renamed the "Giraffe Bread" as the cracked pattern on top of the bread resembled a giraffe more than a tiger. She had a point. And that's why the supermarket chain decided to change the name of the bread sold in their stores to Giraffe Bread instead.

Perhaps, as in this case, all we need to do is ask when we want something changed. Maybe not.

Well, tiger or giraffe, this is also known as the Dutch Crunch. What it is essentially is a soft white bread (made with sesame oil in it) with a crunchy topping made from a mixture of rice flour, yeast, oil and water. The ingredients for the topping and mixed to form a paste which is then brushed on top of the bread in the final stages of rising.

The trick is to get the paste to the right consistency: thin enough to spread but not too thin that it becomes runny and doesn't stay on the surface of the bread. Oh, another point to be careful about: when spreading the paste on the bread (this is done after shaping and midway through the final rise) is to make sure you don't press the surface of the bread so hard that it deflates. 

Apart from that's it's not too complicated at all.

It's unique appearance aside, the topping adds a crunch to the bread which is really cool. It's not the usual crunch of a good bread crust but something more biscuity. The topping also lends the bread a   sweetish, yeasty taste that I find quite nice. 

But who am I kidding. Mostly, I like it because it looks really cool. 

Instead of a loaf, I used a basic bread recipe and made burger buns instead. I added a little chilli oil to the olive oil required in this recipe because I figured a bread that goes by the name "tiger" should have a little heat and a little bite to it. Right? The chilli oil added just a hint of heat but a lot of nice flavour to the plain white buns which was super. 

I decided to make a sandwich for myself with the buns. Immediately. They were too good to resist. And, after my double work out yesterday (I hauled my heavy behind to the gym in the morning and evening: to make up for a week of non-activity -- don't judge me. I am a little crazy), I figured I could afford a hearty mid-day sandwich. 

The filling was uncomplicated and made with things I had in my fridge (isn't this always the case?): a grilled Portobello mushroom with lots of butter and garlic, some leftover pesto, grilled broccoli, caramelised onions and melted cheese. I wanted to use some pickled cabbages but I couldn't open the jar in which they were in. (Hey, weight lifting isn't part of my gym routine in case you're wondering.)

Dutch Crunch Bread

For the buns
3 cups bread flour
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp instant yeast
11/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil (or you could use 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tbsp sesame oil)
1/4 cup milk, warm (110C)
1 cup +2 tbsp warm (110C) water

For the topping
2 tbsp instant yeast
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
11/2 cup rice flour
1 cup water (use as much as needed)

For the buns, whisk the flour, sugar and yeast together in a bowl. Add the salt and mix it in. Add the oil and the warm milk and 1 cup of water and mix together to form a dough. Start kneading the dough in the bowl, adding the extra 2 tbsp water if necessary. The dough should be sticky but not wet. Transfer onto a lightly floured counter and knead for about 5 mins or until dough is smooth and elastic -- pinch of a bit of the dough and see if it can stretch thin without breaking.

Pour a little olive oil in a bowl and transfer the kneaded dough into the bowl and roll the dough around so its nicely coated with oil all over. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for an hour or till it had doubled.

After an hour, gently punch the dough down and divide into eight equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball and place on a baking tray. Leave it to rise.

While waiting, make the paste. Mix the yeast, flour, sugar and salt together. Add the oil and then the water, a little at a time, until you get a spreadable paste: kinda like mayonnaise. Leave for 15 minutes. The paste will bloat a little because of the yeast. After 15 minutes, stir again and gently, using a small spatula, spread a layer atop each bun.

Let the buns rise for a further 15 mins (they should rise about 35-40 mins in total) and bake in a preheated oven (180C) for about 20-30 mins or until the tops are golden and cracked.

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