Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March Daring Bakers' Challenge - Dutch Crunch Bread

This month's Daring Bakers' Challenge was an interesting one for me - a combination of new and not so new, and of simple and creative.

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 actually heard of Dutch Crunch bread before (thus, new) and the pictures associated with the challenge were truly intriguing. The required recipe for this challenge was not for bread - we could use any bread recipe we wanted to (thus, old... for me, at least...). Rather, the recipe we were each required to use to fulfill this month's challenge was for a topping with which to coat our unbaked breads. This topping, once baked, gives the rolls or loaves a unique and very beautiful crackled look.

As luck would have it, I was in the position of needing to bake bread when the challenge was announced So I got to work right away.

I prepared my usual white bread recipe, but rather than shape the dough into two loaves, as I usually do, I made one loaf, and, with the other half of the dough, six rolls. Right before shaping the dough, I prepared the topping, which is very simple.

Combine all ingredients in one bowl:

Whisk together to form a paste:

As you can see above, mine started out a little thicker and clumpier than a paste, so I added a tiny bit of extra water (a tablespoon or two, no more), and continued to whisk. I soon had a thick but not clumpy paste.

I set the prepared topping aside to rest as I shaped my bread dough. Then, after 15 minutes or resting, I went to grab the topping to coat the bread, and was amazed to see how much it had grown so quickly!

While it might not show in the photo, I put a nice thick coating of the topping onto the loaf...

...and onto the six rolls.

I have to say, this was one of those times that I wished I had a window into my oven. I couldn't wait to see what these would look like.

But let me tell you - the wait was well worth it.

How cool do those look? The color, the crackling pattern - it looked just like the pictures I'd seen online! (yes, I googled for images when the challenge was announced - remember - I'd never heard of this before, and wanted to know what to expect!)

Even the loaf came out looking cool.

Very, very exciting.
But the challenge was only half complete.

You see, Dutch Crunch bread is considered a sandwich bread. So once the bread was made, we were challenged to use it as inspiration for a delicious sandwich.
In our family, daddy is the master sandwich maker, so I let him take the lead on this second half of the challenge.

He used pretty much everything he could think of - ham, turkey, muenster cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, onion... Layered everything right up on those beautiful rolls.

And it tasted delicious.

Here's the thing... I think the sandwich would have been delicious no matter what roll it was on. The Dutch Crunch roll just made it a lot more beautiful to look at.

And I am going to be honest. Some members of the family didn't care for the topping... Which meant that other members of the family (ahem... me...) ate an awful lot of Dutch Crunch bread that week.

Funny enough, my favorite sandwich that I had on the bread during the week was a simple grilled ham and muenster.


Sara and Erica, thank you so much for this fun challenge - it was really fun to try something new and to bake up such beautiful bread right in my own kitchen!

To see the other cool breads and sandwiches crafted in the kitchen this month, check them out here.

Dutch Crunch Topping (for bread or rolls)
(from Baking JDs, March 2012 Daring Bakers' Challenge)

2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105-115ยบ F)
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used sesame oil, and I really liked the results)
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups rice flour (white or brown; NOT sweet or glutinous rice flour)Directions:

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. Add more water or rice flour as necessary. Let stand 15 minutes.
Coat the top of each shaped but not yet baked loaf or roll (any bread recipe you choose) with a thick layer of topping. It works best just to use your fingers or a spoon to spread the topping onto the dough. 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 (I applied the topping about 15 minutes into a 30 minute final proofing time for my bread. You can apply it sooner, or just prior to putting the bread into the oven. Different bakers saw different results, depending on the amount of time between applying the topping and putting the bread into the oven.)
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.



  1. You know how in love I am with your beautiful tiger bread and rolls! When I do eventually make them, I'm definitely using dark sesame oil! Your sandwiches look fantastic...especially the grilled muenster and ham! OMG, I love a good grilled cheese! I want it so bad! Phenomenal, Shelley!

  2. Your rolls came out beautifully - such a nice pattern. Great job.

  3. Yay... they look lovely! i like your step by step photos too.

  4. Your breads came out looking perfect! And that simple grilled ham and muenster cheese sandwich looks soooooo good! Great job!

  5. Shelley, I remember seeing your Tigers right after the challenge was annouced and that was so inspiring! They look gorgeous, you managed to get perfect crackling and color. The sandwich sounds fantastic as well. As always, you did a great job on the challenge and I am always pleased to read your post :)

  6. I loved this bread, the sandwich your husband made looks amazing too!!!

  7. Awesome, Awesome job!!! Your Dutch Crunch looks so perfect! And I love the grilled ham and muenster (one of my fav cheeses!) sandwich! I want one right now!!

  8. I remember seeing your pictures on the forum and thinking wow! these look heavenly.
    I love both sandwiches , you did a brilliant job

  9. That grilled muenster and ham is making my mouth water! Nice job on the challenge, and thanks for joining us this month!!


  10. Wonderful looking and well done on the challenge :) The sandwich looks delicious too :) They Looks stunning.

  11. Ooh, the sandwiches look so good! Now I'm hungry. :)

  12. Your dutch crunch looks fantastic! I'm surprised that there were some that didn't like the sweet crunchy topping, I thought it was delicious! Oh well...more for you! Both sandwiches look fantastic! Yum!
    -Lacy @ NYCityEats.com

  13. your bread came out perfect and crackly! it looks delicious, and your sandwiches look super yummy!

  14. Ahh those rolls are perfectly 'crackled'..I used hot sesame oil too and it made all the difference in the tops browning up. It also helped cut the yeasty topping taste.

  15. Those sandwiches look gooooood. My stomach's been growling for a bit, and that grilled cheese sandwich might just finish me off! Absolutely beautiful rolls too, lovely crackly crust. :)

  16. Oh my word!!! That grilled ham and muenster sandwich looks sooooo good. You've got me craving grilled cheese now. :) Great job on the challenge.


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