I always have grand ambitions to make my own sandwich rolls for things like hamburgers, sausage and peppers, or just to have for sandwiches for lunch or dinner. I do make them sometimes, but not nearly as often as I wish I had time to and have to make do with what we get from the local store (oh, how I wish we had a real bakery around here!). In any case, I was planning on making chicken sandwiches for dinner recently and decided I was going to make my own rolls for them. I had come across a recipe in Cook’s Country from April/May 2016 for a roll I had not heard of before called a Dutch Crunch. It is a regional roll that is well-known in San Francisco for its combination of a lightly sweet sandwich bread with a crunchy, unique topping. The pictures of the rolls in the magazine looked enticing, so I figured it would be a good one to attempt for dinner.
Cook’s Country Dutch Crunch Rolls
For the Dough:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 teaspoon salt
For the Topping:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (110 degrees)
3/4 cup white rice flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid rise yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the dough, using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the all-purpose flour, water, melted butter, sugar, yeast, and salt together on low speed until a cohesive mass starts to form, about 2 to 3 minutes. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Grease a large a bowl and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough briefly to form it into a smooth ball, about 30 seconds. Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl and the dough to coat it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature until it is almost doubled in size and a fingertip depression in the dough springs back slowly, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Gently press down on the center of the dough to deflate it. Place the dough on a clean work surface and divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into a rough ball by pinching and pulling the dough edges under so that the top of the ball is smooth.
Flip each ball onto the smooth side and pat each ball into a 4-inch circle. Fold the top edge of the circle down to the midline, pressing on it to seal it. Fold the bottom edge of the circle up to meet the first seam at the midline and press it to seal it. Fold the dough in half, so the top and the bottom edges come together and pinch the edges together to form a seam. Flip the dough to the seam sound down and gently roll it into a 6-inch log. Arrange the rolls in 2 staggered rows of 4 on the prepared baking sheet. Set the sheet of rolls aside to rise at room temperature until they are almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
For the topping, 25 minutes before the rolls are finished rising, whisk together the warm water, white rice flour, vegetable oil, sugar, yeast, and salt together in a medium bowl. Cover the bowl and let the topping rise until it has doubled in size, about 20 minutes. Stir the risen topping to deflate it. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the topping over each roll and quickly brush the topping on to evenly coat the roll tops and sides.
Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake the rolls until the exteriors are golden brown and craggy and the centers of the rolls register 210 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center, about 22 to 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the cooking process. Transfer the rolls to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely before serving.
The process of creating the shape of the rolls sounds more complicated than it really is. Once you do one and get it into the form you want it, the rest are pretty easy for you to do. The topping is pretty thick when you are spreading it on (think pancake batter thick), but it forms a really nice crust onto the roll that you will definitely appreciate. The rolls are soft and chewy on the inside, like you want a sandwich roll to be, and have a really nice crunch on the outside thanks to the rice flour. It is the perfect sandwich bread for anything you might like – deli meats, turkey, chicken, tuna, vegetables – and they hold up quite nicely. We all enjoyed them with our chicken sandwiches and had them for the rest of the week to use for lunch. Like any bread or roll, you do need to plan ahead and give yourself some time to make the dough and let it rise (and buy the rice flour if you don’t happen to have any), but this one that is worth the effort.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day (it is beautiful here again, 72 and sunny and I am wearing shorts in February in NY), and enjoy your meal!