Neither of us had any idea that the bread we'd been ordering sandwiches on for decades was so specific to the Bay Area. I called up Malgieri, who's coming to town next week, to ask him. The baking teacher and cookbook author didn't know the history of Dutch crunch in San Francisco, either, but he speculated that it became popular here because it guaranteed a crisp crust. “That's one of the things that drives bakers crazy, especially in the U.S.,” he said, “where a lot of commercial bakers use excessively hard wheat. I'm not talking about Tartine, where they make European-style breads with softer wheat, but one of the the weird by-products of using very 'strong' flour is sometimes crust softening.The other thing is that, if you're using sourdough, you have to be pretty careful [to guard against the same problem].”
Reading through Nick Malgieri's new book, Bake!: Essential Techniques for Perfect Baking, SFoodie editor John Birdsall discovered an intriguing note in Malgieri's recipe for “tiger” rolls. “Also called Dutch crunch rolls,” the note read, “these have a crisp topping made from rice flour, and are popular in both the Netherlands and the U.K. In the U.S., they're found largely in San Francisco.”
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