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Tiger bread, which is also known as Dutch crunch or tijgerbrood, is a type of Dutch bread. Its name comes from the special appearance of the top of the loaf, which is achieved by brushing the loaf with a rice flour or sesame paste prior to baking. These pastes do not contain gluten, so as the tiger bread bakes and expands, the paste is unable to stretch with it and cracks. The top of the loaf appears to have tiger markings from this cracking.
Although the country of origin of tiger bread is known, little is known about when it first appeared in markets and bakeries. Some people believe that it sprang up in the 1970s, but others think that it dates to the time when the Netherlands and Southeast Asia traded with each other. The bread is generally found in concentrated areas outside of the Netherlands.
A distinct flavor caused by the use of sesame oil and rice flour makes this bread very popular among some people. The sesame oil gives the tiger bread a nutty flavor, and the crunchy topping provides a nice textural contrast to the soft inside. Tiger bread is generally made as a white bread, because many people feel that the strong flavors of the sesame oil and rice flour would not work well with stronger-flavored breads.
Exact recipes for tiger bread are often difficult to find. Many times, the bread is baked by commercial bakeries, so any existing recipes tend to be in large, commercial baking measurements. Paring down the recipe to a manageable household size can adversely affect the end product. Some people have attempted to bake a traditional white loaf, substituting sesame oil in place of vegetable oil and coating the top with the rice flour or sesame paste.
As the popularity of tiger bread has grown, many bakeries have started making other tiger bread products, such as tiger tails and tiger paws. These breads are different sizes and shapes from the original. Despite these differences, the breads still contain the tiger marking caused by the paste baked on top.
Some people believe that the markings originate from the use of rice flour paste. Others believe that it comes from using a sesame paste. The two pastes harmoniously work with the flavor of the bread, but each has its own distinct flavor. Rice flour paste is made by mixing rice flour and water. Sesame paste is made by toasting sesame seeds, grinding the seeds, adding ingredients such as oil and sugar, then combining it all into a paste.
I found a tiger bread recipe in a cookbook of European bread recipes from artisan bakers. I made it myself and I loved it. The cookbook had lots of great bread ideas but the tiger bread was the best of all the ones I tried.
I was in the Netherlands a few years ago and I was really impressed with the skill and artistry that some bakers apply to the creation of tiger bread. Some of these loaves looked exactly like a tiger's back.
Plus, the bread is delicious. It has definitely become one of my favorites. I have tried to make it a few times here but it is just not the same. Not because any of the ingredients are different but only because I am a really mediocre baker.
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