Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Baking JDs' Challenge: Dutch Crunch Bread

We were very excited to host the Daring Bakers challenge this month! For our challenge, we chose a San Francisco Bay Area classic: Dutch crunch bread. 

Sara and I each spent a fair amount of time reading and testing bread recipes, and picking two to suggest to the Daring Bakers. Ultimately, however, the focus of our challenge was the Dutch crunch topping on any bread and a creative sandwich made out of the finished product.

To celebrate hosting the challenge, we decided to throw a party at Sara's apartment -- incidentally on St. Patrick's Day. Everyone dutifully wore at least a little green.

We both baked 12 Dutch crunch rolls, using the simple white bread recipe we'd provided to the group and, of course, the Dutch crunch topping. I also baked some special treats for dessert: Irish carbomb cupcakes from smitten kitchen.

When our guests arrived, we laid out our sandwich spread -- meats, cheeses, vegetables, pickles, and more -- which Sara and Will had kindly picked up earlier in the day.

We took pictures of as many sandwiches as we could. Plus Sara's delicious chickpea side salad. Quite a lot of variety in the group!

 Silence settled in the room as everyone chowed down, enjoying their sandwiches and some out-of-season Christmas Ale courtesy of TJ. And after that, a cupcake.

It was a lot of fun to host a challenge after participating in the Daring Bakers for almost 4 years. We hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as we did. This month, we decided to share our recipes with you. Happy baking!

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!

Preparation time:
Dutch Crunch Topping: 15 minutes active time, 15 minutes passive time
Soft White Roll: 20 minutes active time, 2 hours passive time
Brown Rice Bread: less than 1 hour active time; 2-3 hours passive time

Equipment required:
Small bowl
2 large bowls, or a large bowl and a stand-mixer bowl
Stand mixer with paddle (or whisk) and dough-hook attachments (optional)
Wooden and regular spoon(s)
Knife or dough cutter/scraper (optional, depending on your recipe)
Bread pan(s) or baking tray(s)
Plastic wrap or something else to cover the dough while it rises

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.

You should not prepare the topping until the bread you’ve selected to bake is almost finished rising (~15 minutes from baking).

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)

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 center of the oven and bake your bread as you ordinarily would.  The Dutch crunch topping should crack and turn a nice golden-brown color.

Soft White Roll
Servings:  Six sandwich rolls

This recipe approximates the quintessential white sandwich roll found throughout the Bay Area. The recipe is simple, quick, and addictive.

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
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

1. 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).
2. 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. (The photo to the right is with the first 2 cups of flour added).

3. 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).

4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 4 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
5. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled (or more) in size (see photo comparison).

6. 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).
7. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes while you prepare the topping.
8. 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.
9. 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.7

Brown Rice Bread
Servings:  Two 9x5 inch (23cmx13cm) loaves

If you’re up for more of a challenge, this recipe creates an interesting bread that incorporates cooked brown
rice—something that was new to us. The resulting loaf has, as Hensperger describes, a “nubbly” texture and a
very light almost-sweetness to it. Great for toasting.

1 cup (240 ml) warm water (105-115ºF) (41-46°C)
2 tablespoons (2 packets) (30 ml) (15 gm/½ oz) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) sugar or honey (we used sugar, which worked great)
1 cup (240 ml) warm buttermilk  (105-115 ºF) (41-46°C)
½ cup (120 ml) honey
¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil (plus additional olive or vegetable oil for greasing bowl during rising)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (20 gm/⅔ oz) salt
2 cups (480 ml) (200 gm/7 oz) cooked and cooled short-grain brown rice
5½ -6 cups (1440 ml) (840 gm/30 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour

1. Pour the warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over surface. Stir to dissolve and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl using a whisk or in the work bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the buttermilk, honey, oil, and salt. Add the rice and beat until smooth.

3. Add the yeast mixture and 2 cups flour. Beat hard until smooth for 3 minutes.
4. Add the flour, ½ cup at a time, until a soft, bulky dough that just clears the side of the bowl is formed.
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and springy, about 5 minutes, dusting with flour 1 Tbsp. at a time as needed to prevent sticking. This dough will be slightly sticky. If kneading by machine, switch from the paddle to the dough hook and knead for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and springy and springs back when pressed.  If desired, transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead briefly by hand.
6. Place the dough in a greased deep bowl. Turn the dough once to coat the top and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1½ to 2 hours.

7. Gently deflate the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Grease two 9-by-5-inch (23-by-13 cm) loaf pans. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Form the portions into loaves. Let rest 15 minutes.
8. Coat the top of each loaf with the topping as described above, including letting them stand, uncovered, 20 minutes, until dough rises level with the tops of the pans.

9. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to moderately hot 380ºF/190°C/gas mark 5. Place the pans on a rack in the center of the oven and bake 45 to 50 minutes or until brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped with your finger. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips: Store as you would any bread – in a bread box, a paper bag, or loose plastic wrap. Both varieties suggested are best in the first couple of days. The loaves or rolls can also be frozen in plastic – simply toast to reheat.

Recipe Sources: 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 Baking Bites.