Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March 2012 Daring Bakers' Challenge - Crackle, tiger, giraffe, alligator, leopard, or Dutch-crunch bread

This month's challenge was to make crackle bread (also called Dutch-crunch), this bread is usually a soft textured crumb with a wondrous patterned topping that is similar to a giraffe or a tiger. The topping is very crunchy and has a wonderful taste this type of bread is perfect for sandwiches. This was a great challenge and the results are delicious I had some trouble getting the topping to brown but after eight batches I worked out that it is the sugar in the topping that browns the crust, so if you want dark brown spots add a generous amount of sugar to the topping.

Recipe Source: The recipe for the Dutch Crunch topping came from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible. The recipes for the breads we’ve suggested came from The Bread Bible and an adaptation of a recipe found on bakingbites.com (http://bakingbites.com/2006/09/cooking-school-dutch-crunch-bread/).

Blog-checking lines: 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!

Dutch Crunch Topping

Servings: This recipe should make sufficient topping for two 9x5 loaves (23cmx13cm) or 12 rolls. If you make only 6 rolls in the first soft white roll recipe, you can cut the topping recipe in half.


2 tablespoons (2 packets) (30 ml) (15 gm/½ oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) warm water (105-115Âș 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)


1. 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, as shown below, it should drip off slowly. Add more water or rice flour as necessary. Let stand 15 minutes.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. When baking, place pans on a rack in the centre of the oven and bake your bread as you ordinarily would. The Dutch Crunch topping should crack and turn a nice golden-brown colour.

Crackle, tiger, giraffe, alligator, leopard, or Dutch-crunch loaves and bread rolls

Today is my bread baking day so perfect timing I will make all the bread today crackle bread and watch for the results.

WOW I have seen this bread in the shops in Australia it is called tiger bread (occasionally I have seen it called giraffe bread or crackle bread) I have always wondered how they do the topping! I know in the oven, the starches of the topping gelatinize, dry out, firm up and crackle, in that sequence. The topping imparts a slightly sweet, yeasty flavour and a crispy, crunchy texture that contrasts nicely with the light and tender products. The topping can be applied to any type of dough that is baked between 360°F and 375°F. (182°C to 190°C).

I used my normal soft white bread recipe (3 cups bread flour, 1 cup warm milk, 2 tablespoons oil, 2 teaspoons dried yeast, 2 teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon lemon juice), I made two batches of dough. With one batch I made two long loaves and with the other batch I made six (115 gram/4 oz) rolls.

I used dark sesame seed oil for the crunch topping. The sugar helps brown the topping so increase the sugar if you want a darker topping. The yeast is there to add a yeasty beer taste to the topping.

WOW how good is the topping it really is crunchy with a slight sweetness and the toasted sesame flavour comes out so well. We ate it all up immediately so sorry for no sandwich pictures.

I heavily coated the loaves with the paste and let them rise after 20 minutes the paste had crackled and looked so intriguing

The baked loaves

Tiger Bread Rolls

I made up a batch of bread rolls using the bread recipe above but I divided the dough into six balls. I lightly coated these in the paste I used only half of the topping recipe just to see what difference I would get in the pattern.

The bread rolls coated in the topping

A third batch of loaves
I made another batch I very heavily coated the loaves in a very thick layer made up with twice the normal sugar to enhance the browning of the topping and baked them off. This time I only got very large patches on the topping notice how much browner the topping is as compared to the other batches

Tiger Paste Recipe
I made another batch of rolls, this time I made up the crackle topping using this recipe (by weight) rice flour 100%, warm water 100%, dark sesame oil 10%, sugar 15%, yeast 15% and salt 5%. This time I made sure that I added the paste about 15 minutes before I baked them. Certainly this was the best tasting topping and also the most crunchy though the least attractive looking LOL LOL.

Here is a listing of all the tiger paste recipes I could find on the net. They are all about the same (except one) the only difference is when you add the paste (i.e. just after shaping, half way through the final proof, or just before we bake the bread) and how thickly you apply it to the bread (thin for small scales and thick for larger scales).

'Rye & Beer' tiger paste
Light Rye flour 7 tablespoons (105 ml) 60gm
Beer ('Roaring Meg') 80 ml
Yeast dried 2 gm
Salt 2 gm

'Rice & Sesame' tiger paste
Rice flour 6 tablespoons (90 ml) 60 gm
Warm water 65 ml
Sesame Oil 1½ teaspoons
Sugar 1 teaspoon
Yeast 1½ teaspoon dried

'Australian Artisan Bakery' tiger paste my friend's recipe
rice flour 6 tablespoons (90 ml) 60 gm (or use semolina or tapioca flour)
warm water 55 ml
vegetable oil 10 ml (sesame oil is great to use if you want a stronger flavour)
½ teaspoon vegemite (or another yeast paste)
sugar 10 gm
dried yeast 10 gm
malt extract ½ gm
salt 2½ gm

'Challenge' tiger paste (from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible)
rice flour 6 tablespoons (90 ml) 60 gm
warm water 60 ml
vegetable oil 7½ ml
sugar 7½ gm
active dry yeast (6 ml) 3¾ gm
salt ¾ gm

'Thin' tiger paste (http://bakemyday.blogspot.com.au/2008/10/hellooo-tiger-bread.html)
rice flour 6 tablespoons (90 ml) 60 gm
salt 1½ gm
sugar 3 gm
boiling water (1 cup) 240 ml
dried yeast 1½ gm
vegetable oil 1½ ml

Pain Marche's Recipe: (from DB member Gourmande)
joshinko * 250 g
cake flour 15 g
fresh yeast 25 g
salt 5 g
malt extract 2 g
water 275 g
sugar 5 g
lard 30 g

*"joshinko" is for making Japanese sweets, it's not exactly a rice flour, it's more processed, like "instant".

Batch Two
I have been trying to get the topping to go brown this batch no luck I followed the recipe to a "T" and used all the paste. It cracked with large patches. I will have to try a few other things, I even put it under the grill (broiler) to brown it up no luck. *sigh*

Batch Three
Home made rice flour tiger topping
This time I made my own rice flour (a couple minutes in my ex-Gloria Jean's coffee $5 grinder was enough) to make the crunch topping this time I got a much better result than the packet rice flour batches. I added some sesame seeds to the topping on a couple of them just before baking.

The home made rice flour certainly browned up better than the packet flour but I'm still slightly unhappy about the look of it, I want to experiment some more. Maybe I'm baking them at too high a temperature my oven's at 240°C/465°F which is the normal heat I always bake bread these took 45 mins to bake which is really a long time for rolls. Maybe next time I will go for 220°C/430°F or even the much lower 350°F/180°F, and I'll try steam which should make the topping go browner.

For the last three batches I let the paste rise until it had doubled in volume (i.e. I made the paste as soon as I had finished kneading the bread) I found it made no difference to as compare to the "15 minute version" in the challenge. The longer time makes the topping taste better because it has a stronger yeastier taste when you let it rise for a long time. I have made about eight batches of six rolls now trying to get a dark brown patterning on the crust but I haven't been able to achieve it as get, I have tried varying the
1.thickness of the topping (thin vs thick)
2 how long I let the topping rise before I apply it (15 mins vs doubling in volume)
3.when I apply the topping (half way through the proof vs just before baking bread)
4.used two brands of store bought rice flour
5.ground my own rice flour
6.I added vegemite to the topping
7.different temperatures of oven (moderate to very hot)
the only thing that made any difference was making my own rice flour and that only made a golden brown colour in the final patterned crust not a dark brown colour as I had hoped for. I really have no idea how to get a dark brown colour on the crust. I have looked hi and low on the internet searching for any reliable advice on this and cannot find any at all. If any body as tips or hints please share it!

Batch Four
I tried another batch this time using steam and I got almost white rolls so I don't think steam is the answer, usually steam is used to create a humid atmosphere so the crust stays soft for the first part of baking, the oven spring is much better and a nice crust is formed in the second half of baking i.e. steam in the first part of baking gives us a crisp crunchy crust but doesn't necessarily brown the crust. This batch was very crunchy but not brown at all. (I saw this advice in couple of websites but it doesn't seem to work for me.)

I will try increasing the amount of sugar maybe I will try brown sugar to see what happens this time.

Don't get me wrong the rolls I have made have been tasty and have had great crunchy crust it's just that I'm looking for a browner colour on the topping.

Batch Five
Finally after a lot of experimenting I have worked out how to colour the topping. It is the sugar that browns the topping so if your batch is too pale add more sugar next time I used honey (since I had to use it) about 2 tablespoons for half a batch of the topping (120 gm rice flour, 120 gm water, 2 tablespoons honey, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt) it was only slightly sweet tasting when baked.


Todd M said...

Love them all - batch 5 has beautiful color and pattern.

Korena said...

*Stands up and claps* Bravo Audax, what dedication you showed for this challenge, and what a great final result!

Rajani said...

Joining the applause, Audax. Thanks to your tip about the sugar, I got the brown color on the topping.

Unknown said...

m also joining in the applause (hear the loudest one?). As usual you've outdone yourself. Thanx for your very useful tips. really helped.

Su m said...

Audax, as allways you rule at this :D
Love all the results you achieved, even if some were not the exactely expected result, but wonderfull anyway :D
What an amazing job for this challenge ;)

Cher Rockwell said...

As always, amazing job!

Irina said...

I like your new photography - it does justice to the dedication and work you put into this! As for the whole "zoo"...well done!

zorra said...

Wow, awesome! But who ate all these buns and loaves? ;-)

Pavithra Elangovan said...

Awesome awesome awesome - you are genius always.

Rebecca said...

I'm going to try more sugar in mine too. I love the dark brown crackles you got in your final batch!

Kat said...

You nailed it! Your persistence is a great example for the rest of us. I only made it to batch number four. Now I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe, I should try for number five!

Unknown said...

How do you have the time to try so many??? They all look great!!!

Sawsan@chef in disguise said...

Hats off to you for not giving up. I had my share of troubles with this challenge so I know how frustrating it is to do your best and get "less than perfect results"
Thank you for the tip about the sugar and browning, I love your scientific approach to the challenges and this one is no exception

zazacook said...

Wow Audax, you did a marvellous job on this challenge! Batch 3 "Home made rice flour tigger topping" looks soooo Delicious :)

Susie Bee on Maui said...

All amazing-great job as usual!

Anonymous said...

your attention to detail is always inspiring!

Within the Kitchen said...

Great job! I had lots of fun with this challenge too. Can't wait till next month.


Renata said...

One more time you were the perfect example of perseverance, Audax, and all of us always learn from your experiences, and we are so thankful for having you among the DBs, you make it so much more exciting and fun! All your tigers (and the rest of the "zoo") are wonderful, even the ones that weren't as golden as you expected them to be. Outstanding job! Bravo to you!

Sara Clark said...

Such perseverance Audax! Your results are incredible. Thanks for helping us out with the challenge and for making this so fun!!


shelley c. said...

You were a study in perseverance this month, and it truly paid off for you. Wonderful persistence and wonderful job.

Unknown said...

Beautiful as always...I especially like the very first loaf!

Nish said...

I'm so glad that you managed to get the topping to brown after so many attempts! Beautiful :)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Love your version Audax! And thanks for doing all of the experimentation -interesting that the sugar was the thing that browned the top!

kouky said...

Thanks Audax for your nice commet and for all your expériences! every month I learned so much with you!
your breads are wonderful! Bravo !

Bourbonnatrix said...

eight batches?!? wow! i'm glad you were able to get the result you wanted, but they all look insanely delicious to me! congrats!

Deeba PAB said...

I love how you immerse yourself whole heartedly in every challenge ... doing an analysis of the most interesting type! Gorgeous Audax ... and bravo for being such an inspiring DB!

Anonymous said...

Poor Audax - this month was an uphill struggle! You were still an inspiration to the rest of us, as usual.

Daisy said...

Audax, these look absolutely amazing!!! Your bread is beautiful! Almost too beautiful to eat . . . almost ;-)

I have never heard of crackle/tiger/giraffe/alligator/leopard or Dutch Crunch Bread, but now I definitely want to try making it.

Thanks for all the photos and the tips!

Bryt said...

isn't that neat to see the crackling beforehand! I'm pretty impressed with the amount of time you've put into it. Although I guess you wouldn't have minded, it would've been delicious to eat after!!

Namratha said...

Audax, your experiments always teach us a lot about the challenge. Your loaves look gorgeous and glad you got them to brown in the end. I used sesame oil and they browned well. Will try the honey next time.

Suz said...

Goodness, what beautiful rolls! Thanks for the tip RE getting a lovely brown crust. I'll bear that in mind next time.