This month I was confronted by my fear of bread baking with this Daring Bakers challenge. Thankfully it was a successful baking experience that resulted in a tasty sandwich and picnic lunch with my little family.
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 had never heard of dutch crunch bread. One of the reasons I really like being a part of Daring Bakers is the exposure I get to foods in other countries and other regions of the U.S. that I would have otherwise gone my whole life without knowing anything about. Making this bread made me want to go try the real thing sometime. Whenever I find myself in Northern California I will make sure to keep an eye out for it.
We were given a couple of bread recipes to use as the vehicle for the dutch crunch topping. I chose a simple soft white bread that I made into rolls. The dough was so easy, smooth and lovely. It made me really happy. And that makes me a little weird, I know.
The topping struck me as strange when I mixed it up and did not look like the recipe said it should. As I spread it (or tried to) on top of the risen rolls I had some serious doubts. But they baked up beautifully and the topping lived up to its title of dutch crunch, but wasn’t striped like it should have been. The topping adds great visual appeal and texture to the finished product. I realized in rereading this recipe that I should have added more water to my topping to make it less stiff and easier to spread. I used most, but not all of the topping. Turns out I should have made half a recipe of the topping since I was only making 6 rolls! I promise that I really do read a recipe all the way through before I start cooking, but sometimes I miss things. Can I blame pregnancy brain for this even if it happened before I was pregnant? Luckily there was no harm done and my kitchen didn’t explode as a result of my oversights.
My sandwich was not exactly one-of-a-kind, but it was simple and good. Honey ham, white cheddar, whole grain mustard, mayo and spring mix. I wrapped them up in parchment, packed them in my rarely utilized picnic basket along with some other goodies and picked Ben up from work last Friday and we had a nice family picnic in the park. So even though the sandwich wasn’t groundbreaking, the experience was really wonderful. Why don’t we picnic more often?
Below are the recipes for the bread and the topping. Here is the link to the pdf with more detailed instructions. Other than the rice flour (which was not hard to find at my well stocked HEB in Houston) you will have most of these ingredients or be able to get them easily. The rolls I might make again and divide into 8 or 10 because some of the sandwich rolls I ended up with were really massive. Thanks, Sara and Erica!
Dutch Crunch ToppingCan be halved for the roll recipe below.
- 2 tablespoons (2 packets) (30 ml) (15 gm/½ oz) active dry yeast
- 1 cup (240 ml) warm water (105-115º F) (41-46°C)
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) (30 gm/1 oz) sugar
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) salt
- 1½ cups (360 ml) (240 gm/8½ oz) rice flour (white or brown; NOT sweet or glutinous rice flour) (increase by 1 cup or more for home-made rice flour)
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat with a whisk; beat hard to combine. The consistency should be like stiff royal icing – spreadable, but not too runny. If you pull some up with your whisk, it should drip off slowly. Add more water or rice flour as necessary. Let stand 15 minutes.
- Coat the top of each loaf or roll with a thick layer of topping. We tried coating it with a brush but it worked better just to use fingers or a spoon and kind of spread it around. You should err on the side of applying too much topping – a thin layer will not crack properly.
- Let stand, uncovered, for any additional time your recipe recommends. With the Soft White Roll, you can place the rolls directly into the oven after applying the topping. With the Brown Rice Bread, the loaves should stand for 20 minutes with the topping before baking.
- When baking, place pans on a rack in the center of the oven and bake your bread as you ordinarily would. The Dutch Cruch topping should crack and turn a nice golden-brown color.
Soft White Rolls
- 1 tablespoon (1 packet) (15 ml) (7 gm/ ¼ oz) active dry yeast
- ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water (105-110º F) (41-43°C) (No need to use a thermometer – it should feel between lukewarm and hot to the touch).
- 1 cup (240 ml) warm milk (105-110º F) (41-43°C) (We’ve tried both nonfat and 2%, with no noticeable difference)
- 1½ tablespoons (22½ ml) (20 gm/ ⅔ oz) sugar
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil (plus additional olive or vegetable oil for greasing bowl during rising)
- 1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (9 gm/⅓ oz) salt
- Up to 4 cups (960 ml) (600 gm/21oz) all purpose flour
- In the bowl of an electric mixer or large mixing bowl, combine yeast, water, milk and sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit for about 5 minutes (The mixture should start to bubble or foam a bit and smell yeasty).
- Add in vegetable oil, salt and 2 cups of flour. Using the dough hook attachment or a wooden spoon, mix at medium speed until the dough comes together.
- Add remaining flour a quarter cup at time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, as shown in the photo below (For us, this usually required an additional 1½ to 2 cups of flour).
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 4 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
- Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled
- Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 6 equal portions (if you’d like to make rolls) or 2 equal portions (if you’d like to make a loaf) (using a sharp knife or a dough scraper works well). Shape each into a ball or loaf and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (try not to handle the dough too much at this point).Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes while you prepare the topping.
- Coat the top of each roll or loaf with the topping as described above. While the original recipe recommends letting them stand for 20 minutes after applying the topping, I got better results by putting them directly into the oven.
- Once you’ve applied the topping, bake in a preheated moderately hot 380ºF/190°C/gas mark 5 for 25-30 minutes, until well browned. Let cool completely on a wire rack before eating.