Painting shows Dutch Crunch rolls on baking sheet, plus sandwich on a roll.

Dutch Crunch Rolls. 8″ x 8″ Gouache. Sharyn Dimmick

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!

In my long history of bread baking I had never made Dutch Crunch bread or rolls. I have eaten Dutch Crunch often enough to remember what it looks like with the famous crackled top, sort of like bread dough that morphed into ginger snaps. Because I needed to make a sandwich I went for rolls rather than a loaf of bread and because I needed a reliable roll recipe under the crunch topping I used my grandmother’s roll recipe. You can read that recipe here and read more about Grandma Carroll here.

Well, I should say I started to make my grandma’s roll recipe, but it became apparent that I was going to need to make a few substitutions. First, I normally cook with 1% or 2% milk, but Mom had come home with a gallon of skim milk by mistake last week and we are trying to use it up. Then, when I measured the corn oil I found that I only had 1/3 cup and I needed 2 Tbsp of that for the crunch topping. Second substitution — subtract 2 Tbsp oil from the dough and replace it with 2 Tbsp butter. Done. Third substitution: Grandma’s rolls are a rich, eggy dough and I wanted a little more wheat flavor in a sandwich bun, so instead of using 5 cups of unbleached flour I used 4 cups unbleached and 1 cup whole wheat. Four: we had several bargain-priced packets of Rapid Rise yeast that I wanted to use up: normally, I use loose active dry yeast that I buy in bulk. Since the yeast bubbled adequately in its warm water I knew it was fine: what I didn’t know is how long the roll dough would take to rise.

What I like about roll dough, as opposed to bread dough, is that it is light enough to knead by hand —  I can just stand at the bread board and work. I had to add 2 Tbsp extra flour to the dough, probably because it was a rainy day. I learned from The Cheese Board Collective Works to add flour by the tablespoon when doughs are too sticky or wet to hold their shape. Sometimes it takes several tablespoons to fix wet dough but you don’t run the risk of getting dry, floury dough because you got impatient and dumped in half a cup at a time.

Just before I made up my dough I put an orange-marinated pork loin in the oven to roast. For the real recipe, visit Bewitching Kitchen. I used Sally’s marinade, but did not make the accompanying sauce. By the time I had kneaded the dough and corrected its stickiness it was time to look at the pork loin and think about side dishes. Mom wanted applesauce and thawed some and I saw an opportunity to use some cabbage.  I heated a skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil and a half-Tablespoon of butter while I sliced cabbage. Since the pork loin was not done, I basted it with marinade and tossed some cauliflower and carrots in a little olive oil, adding them to the roasting pan and turned down the skillet to a low simmer to keep warm until I was ready to cook the cabbage.  We usually eat lunch at noon, but noon had come and gone before anything was ready. By the time I sliced the meat and fried the cabbage and heated plates and microwaved the applesauce, it was nearly 12:30.

Lunch was ready just when the bread dough was ready for shaping, of course. Uh-oh. Hoping for the best, I punched it down for the third time so that I could eat my lunch while it was hot. I poured my tea and brought it back down to the kitchen.   I cranked up the oven to 400 degrees and got out my dough cutter to divide the dough in half.

Perhaps because some people call Dutch Crunch “Tiger Bread” or perhaps because we still have a lot of oranges I got the idea to make half regular Dutch Crunch rolls and half orange Dutch Crunch. For the orange rolls, I zested one orange, added an extra Tablespoon of sugar to the dough and squeezed in 1 Tablespoon of fresh orange juice. I kneaded it just enough to incorporate these ingredients and let it sit while I shaped the regular Dutch Crunch rolls. I used half the recipe to make six large buns to use as sandwich rolls, which I placed as far apart as possible on a standard baking sheet that I had rubbed with a little butter.

Retrieving the orange dough, I shaped it into nine smaller buns.

Then I made the Dutch Crunch topping from a recipe provided by Daring Kitchen. The basic version called for

2 Tablespoons active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 tsp salt

1 and 1/2 cups rice flour (NOT sweet rice flour). Increase by a cup or more for homemade rice flour. I ended up using 1 cup sweet rice flour, 1/2 cup ground basmati rice and 1 and 1/2 cups ground brown rice.

When I pulled the rice flour out of the cupboard it was, of course, sweet rice flour! Undeterred, I measured 1 cup of it and then proceeded to check various containers for rice that I could throw in the blender to make instant rice flour. I used half a cup of white basmati rice and about a cup and a half of short-grain brown rice. What I learned is that the blender will make rice flour out of rice, brown or white, and probably black or red, too — there is no reason to buy any rice flour ever again.

So I whisked up the crunch topping, which looks like a thick, grainy paste, and let it sit for fifteen minutes as instructed, then used my hands to glop it onto the top of each roll, applying it liberally. By the time I had smeared it on all fifteen rolls it was time to bake them.

Silly me: I forgot that the orange crunch rolls would brown faster because of the extra sugar in the dough. Oops. I managed to get them out just in time after about twelve minutes. The regular Dutch Crunch rolls took another three minutes, probably because I made them larger.

Now I’m supposed to make a splendid sandwich. How about orange-roasted pork loin with arugula on Dutch crunch? I’ll spread the bun with a little peach chutney mixed with yogurt, but before I do that I’ll toast the bun in the toaster oven.

Food Notes: You should make this if you adore Dutch Crunch and you might as well grind your own rice, which takes less than a minute.