Thursday, June 02, 2011

Dutch Crunch Bread and Pistolets

Another of life's lessons learned: if someone tells you that there is one ingredient you need to make your recipe perfect, but gives you some second-class substitutes, just go to the grocery store and buy the perfect ingredient, even if you're feeling too lazy to get in your car and drive to the store.

My friend Melinda Pickworthmade this bread - Peter Reinhart's Vienna Bread with Dutch Crunch Topping - in November of 2008 (right after Obama was elected president).  I wanted to make it as soon as I saw it.  This is how long it's taken me--maybe I'm not that great on follow-through.

The Vienna bread itself is an easy-to-make,  fine-textured white sandwich bread, which can also be shaped into rolls or buns. If you want to make the Dutch Crunch topping, you need rice flour, which I didn't have. Melinda made her bread in November of 2008, so you would think that sometime in the 2 1/2 years after I read her blog and got inspired to try it, I would have picked up some rice flour. Not true. 

But, since you can substitute any number of things for the rice flour, I did, even though Reinhart warns that rice flour is most commonly used because it's "perfect for the job."  Meaning that the substitutions are less than perfect.

I said this bread was easy, and it is, but you do have to start it the night before you want to eat it. It starts, as do so many tasty bread recipes, with a pre-ferment that you make the night before, stick in the refrigerator, and bring to room temperature in the morning. On the second day, it's just a dump-everything-in-the-bowl, knead, and shape kind of bread.

Vienna bread is different than French bread in a lot of ways. First, it's got a lot more ingredients than the yeast/flour/salt/water quartet that works such magic in a baguette. It's also got barley malt syrup, shown here in its sticky splendor, an egg, butter, and a little sugar.

After this is mixed, kneaded, and allowed to rise, it's time to decide what kind of bread you want.

The recipe makes two one-pound loaves of Vienna bread (usually shaped into a batard), but you can make rolls with part of the dough, or you can make American-style loaves in loaf pans. I decided to make four three-ounce pistolets (miniature batards) and one large Dutch-crumb loaf.

What turns Vienna bread into Dutch crumb? A topping made from rice flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and water. (Or, if you can't be bothered to go fetch some rice flour, a mixture of cake flour and cornstarch). This mixture gets brushed on the shaped loaf, where it starts to bubble and burst. Frankly, it looks a little frightening. If made with rice flour, the contrast between the crunch and the loaf is supposed to be much more striking than in my picture--it's called tijgerbroodin the Netherlands, whence it comes, and should look like the markings on a tiger.

Almost alive.

The rolls turned out pretty and golden brown. I used them as dinner rolls, but they could also be used for sandwiches.

The bread's topping wasn't as pretty or as crunchy as the photo in The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I blame the lack of rice flour for the lack of perfection in the Dutch crunch, but it still formed a lovely crust--slightly sweet and toothsome, although not as firm as a baguette's crust. The interior was soft and even-crumbed--equally good for sandwiches and as toast.

I'd like to thank the people at Channel 4 for naming Breadbasketcase one of their top ten bread blogs. Check out their list for some great-looking blogs.

Vienna Bread

from The Bread Baker's Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart

Pate Fermentee
1 1/8 cups (5 oz.) AP flour
1 1/8 cups (5 oz.) bread flour
3/4 tsp (.19 oz.) salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast
About 3/4 cup (6 to 7 ounces) warm water

Mix together the flours with the salt and yeast. Then add the water while stirring until you have a rather 'shaggy' dough. You may need to add the extra water to bring it all together.

Remove the dough to a floured surface then knead it for a few minuted until the dough is smooth and slightly, not sticky. Place this dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let it ferment for at least 4 hours at room temperature. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

Vienna Bread

2 1/3 cups (13 oz.) pate fermentee (You'll have a little left over)
2 2/3 cups (12 oz.) bread flour
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1 large egg, beaten slightly
1 Tbs melted butter
3/4 cup + 2 Tbs (6 to 7 oz.) warm water

1. Remove pate fermentee from the refrigerator, cut it into about 10 pieces then let it come to room temperature, covered, for about an hour before using it.

2. Stir together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Then add the pate fermentee, egg, butter and 3/4 cups of the water. Add extra water if needed, then continue mixing until you have a smooth dough. Knead with dough hook, or by hand, about ten minutes.

3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover. Let it rise until doubled in bulk for 2 hours.

4. Shape the dough into rounds (big or little, depending on what you want your final product to be). Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

5. Shape into batards, rolls, or loaves, and let rise until nearly doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450F. Just before placing the bread in the oven, place an empty pan in the oven and pour a cup of boiling water into it closing the door quickly.

Place the bread in the oven, reduce the heat to 400F. Continue to bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, rotate the baking sheet to ensure even baking. Bake an additional 10-20 minutes, depending on size.

Cool on a rack to room temperature.


Monica said...

Congratulations on the feature! and this bread does sound good... maybe I should ditch the cakes and start with the breads.....

evil cake lady said...

I love dutch crunch rolls for sandwiches, and always wondered how they got their crunchy-crackly top. Marie, I am swimming in rice flour and would happily send you some, should you ever decide you needed any! Congrats on getting named one of the top ten bread blogs--you deserve it!

Stephanie said...

Congrats on getting featured!

I've been eyeing this recipe in my book for a while. I even have the rice flour but no barley syrup.. I can't find it anywhere

Lois B said...

Congrats on making the top 10 - well deserved!

pinknest said...

So smooth! I want to pet it. And that barley malt syrup looks intense.

breadbasketcase said...

No! There's room in life for cakes and breads. No ditching is permitted.

I suppose if I ever tried gluten-free baking, I might be swimming in rice flour too. Maybe I could buy just a little puddle of it.

I got the barley malt syrup at a regular grocery store, but I think it was in the baking supplies section, not with honey or molasses.


I don't think you're supposed to want to pet a tiger. Or maybe you're supposed to want to, but your brain tells you to desist.

HanaĆ¢ said...

Congrats on making it to the top 10!

I grew up on Tijgerbrood (yum!) but never baked it. I'm planning on making this recipe soon (you could probably figure out the recipe on your own, otherwise use Google Translator):

And I already went to the store and bought the rice flour for it. I already have barley malt syrup which I use for most breads I bake.

Nicola said...

Seriously impressed by the feature! That is so cool. Hope it comes with a big cash prize, a sunny holiday with lots of rum cocktails and a book deal!!!

breadbasketcase said...

Lucky you--apparently you can get the bread in San Francisco or in the Netherlands, but not in many other places. Making it made me feel cosmopolitan.

I was hoping the same thing, but it turns out not to be so.

Jenn said...

Marie, what an awesome award. Congratulations!!!

Melinda said...

Congratulations on the top 10 bread blogs...what took them so long!
I am touched to be mentioned on your post and here I am such a slacker as always with my blogging!
I, too, have a haul of rice flour and would gladly share it with you. You probably find it difficult to find in your neck of the woods as you are 'wheat belt' practically!
But your bread and pistolets (which sound like a ladies dueling pistol) look just wonderful!
I hope you had a wonderful birthday. I thought about you on the day but didn't send any wishes as I was very busy being a hostess to 2 friends visiting. So forgive me! I hope someone made you a big fat juicy cake! Take care. Think I am truly ready to restart the blogging. I know you have heard that before! I am all hot wind and porkies! xx

jini said...

i am not going to admit to anything like hot wind and porkies. lol
congrats deserve the recognition for sure!! i suspect you could receive a vote in the top ten of cake bloggers too. what a woman!! i am hungry!!

The Country Cook said...

How wonderful on your feature! This bread sounds wonderful!

Goody said...

Your breads look lovely. If you have an electric coffee grinder, you can finely grind some rice to get a halfway decent rice flour (varies by type of rice, of course). I've used this in a pinch with decent results.

Carrie B. Fisher said...

Just made this Vienna Bread for our July 4th family meal! Made 2 batards,but only used the topping on one of the loaves (my daughter wasn't so sure about the wisdom of such a volatile-looking treatment!). Both loaves turned out great! Thanks for the inspiration ... I've been looking for a time to make this since you posted it. Alongside my smoked meats (brisket, spareribs & chicken) and the rest of the meal, the bread more than held its own at the table :)

breadbasketcase said...

So glad to hear that you tried and liked the bread. Your smoked meat extravaganza sounds wonderful!