Although San Francisco is known for it's sour dough bread to outsiders, for locals it's Dutch Crunch bread that sets their sandwiches apart. It's a unique, regional favorite--a soft bun with a distinctive, crackled topping. It is known as Tiger Bread in the Netherlands where it is believed to have originated. In other parts of the world, it is sometimes called Giraffe Bread. (source)
I first learned about this bread when my son, T-Man and techie guy for The Yummy Life, returned to St. Louis after living in San Francisco for several years. He was happy to be back in his home town, but one thing he missed about San Francisco was the sandwiches there. It's their signature food, in T-Man's opinion, and it's the Dutch Crunch bread that's most essential.
So, I experimented for a while before settling on this recipe that simplifies the rolls by using a no-knead dough. Although there is little hands-on time in making these rolls, you do have to plan ahead. The dough needs to be mixed the day before. A bowl of dough can be stirred together in under 5 minutes, but it has to rest as it self-kneads for 10-18 hours.
The topping is a mixture of rice flour, yeast, and sesame oil that magically crackles as the rolls bake and creates their distinctive appearance and taste. These are fun to make. Give them a try!
Here's how to make this unique and flavorful bread.
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients:
FOR THE DOUGH
FOR THE TOPPING
Step 2. MIX AND LET DOUGH REST: Combine dough ingredients in large bowl and stir just until no dry bits are visible. (It's not necessary to proof the yeast--simply mix everything together.) Dough willl be shaggy. Cover with plastic wrap and rest at room temperature for 10 to 18 hours.
As the yeast activates and the dough rises, it self-kneads. The shaggy dough transforms into a cohesive mixture that is bubbly, wet and sticky.
Step 3. Prepare a baking stone or metal baking sheet by covering it with parchment paper. My preference is a baking stone for yielding the best texture on the bottom of the rolls, but a baking sheet works well, too.
If using a baking stone, cut parchment paper to cover it. I have a large baking stone that's the size of my oven rack and grill. I can bake all of the rolls on it at one time. (Although my stone looks dirty, it's actually clean but "well seasoned"!)
If using a baking sheet, cover it with parchment paper as well. I buy parchment paper in pre-cut sheets that perfectly fit my 13x18 pans.
Step 4. Turn proofed dough out of the bowl and onto a floured surface. Dough will be wet, loose, and floppy; flour your hands and add more to the surface as needed to prevent sticking. (I use a flour shaker for evenly dusting the surface.) Use a dough scraper to fold dough on top of itself on four sides. Turn over and draw sides in and under all around to create a ball.
view on Amazon: scraper/chopper tool, flour shaker
Step 5. Use dough scraper to cut the ball in half. Cut each half into 4 equal pieces, for a total of 8 pieces. (This will results in 4 to 4.5" diameter baked rolls. For smaller rolls, cut dough into more pieces.)
Step 6. Shape each piece of dough into a round or oblong shape, whatever you prefer, by pulling sides out and underneath. If using a baking stone, place the pre-cut parchment paper on the counter and place formed rolls on it, spaced 2-3 inches apart. (The baking stone needs to be preheated while the rolls rest.) If using a baking sheet, leave the parchment paper on the pan, and arrange rolls on top. (This can go directly into the oven when it's time to bake the rolls.) Cover formed rolls with a dish towel and let rest for 90 minutes. The rolls will spread some, but rise only slightly. No worries, they will puff up as they bake in the oven.
Step 7. 30 minutes before putting rolls in oven, in small bowl whisk Dutch Crunch Topping ingredients into a thick, smooth batter. Let mixture sit for 15 minutes.
view on Amazon: small whisk
Step 8. Gently spoon the topping mixture evenly on top and down the sides of the rolls. Cover rolls with a thick layer--use all of the topping. (Optional: sprinkle topping with sesame and/or poppy seeds. I usually make some with and without sesame seeds.) Allow topping to proof on the rolls for 15 minutes.
view on Amazon: organic toasted sesame seedsStep 9. Bake for 15-18 minutes until browned. (If using a baking stone, slide a pizza peel under the parchment paper and transfer rolls to heated stone.) Topping will develop characteristic cracks as it bakes and browns. Cool rolls completely before slicing for sandwiches.
view on Amazon: metal baking steels
Prefer smaller slider-size rolls? Easy. Simply cut the dough into 16 pieces instead of 8 and proceed with the same directions, reducing baking time to 13-16 minutes. These make adorable mini San Francisco-style sliders.
Slider lunch buffet! I recently prepared a slider lunch buffet for the hungry crew at my sons' company, LACRM. I made mini Dutch Crunch rolls for "Gouda Good" sliders inspired by T-Man's favorite San Francisco sandwich: rotisserie chicken, peppercorn sauce, and gouda cheese--heated through so the cheese gets all melty. There were 5 other sliders to choose from. The Gouda Goods and Lobster Rolls (duh!) disappeared the fastest.
Form dough into any shape or size. Oblong rolls are most commonly used in San Francisco sandwich shops.
As with most breads, these rolls are best eaten the same day they are baked. Here's a possible schedule for having fresh rolls for dinner.
EXAMPLE OF TIMING FOR FRESHLY BAKED ROLLS BY DINNER TIME:
This bread has a soft, light texture, but is sturdy enough to be ideal for sandwiches.
Make it a Yummy day!