I used to have a serious foodporn addiction – my browser glued to the likes of Tastespotting, Foodgawker and Photograzing, clicking on everything that enticed me, bookmarking pages with the intent to try everything I found. But alas, one only has so many hours in a day to satisfy one’s gluttonous fancies; my eyes consumed more than I was ever able to make, and all my little bookmarks fell into oblivion in my browser folder, never to be touched again.
Nowadays I visit the aforementioned sites much less frequently, visiting only on occasion for inspiration. On my last visit I came across a bevy of photographs of a tantalizing bread, known as Tiger Bread (or Dutch Crunch Bread). Upon further inspection I found that the photos all belonged to the Daring Bakers‘ group, a consortium of dedicated bloggers who present each other with a different baking challenge every month. The crackled topping of rice flour on the rolls reminded me of the topping on the sweet Chinese “Pineapple Buns” I enjoyed so much as a child. I decided to try out a sweet rendition of Tiger Bread, and came up with a roll with the subtle aroma and taste of coconut, a marvelously soft interior and a crackled, crunchy topping of rice flour and almonds.
Coconut Milk Tiger Bread
makes 6 rolls
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tsp instant yeast
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup warm coconut milk
1 large egg
1 tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/8 cup rice flour (white)
1/8 cup whole almonds, blanched
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup warm coconut milk
1 tbsp warm water
white and black sesame seeds (optional)
In a large bowl, combine dough ingredients well until dough forms a sticky mass. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, adding flour as needed so that the dough does not stick to your hands or the surface. When the dough is smooth and elastic, put it in a lightly greased bowl and cover with cling wrap. Put dough in a warm place and let rise for one and a half hours.
Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Separate the dough into 6 equally sized pieces and gently form them into balls. Place them on the baking sheet, equally spaced, and let rise for 30 minutes. Make sure there’s enough space between them, for these will expand in the oven!
In a food processor, whiz together the whole almonds and rice flour until finely ground. Don’t worry if there are tiny pieces of almond remaining. Mix the ingredients for the Crunch Topping (except for the sesame seeds, if using) in a medium bowl until they are well combined. It should have the consistency of a thick paste; if it looks too runny, add rice flour as needed. Let this sit undisturbed for 30 minutes. As it sits, it will become foamy.
Divide the topping evenly between the rolls (they will now have been proofing for a full hour), making sure the tops are well coated. I found I did not have to spread the mixture, but just spooned it on top of each roll and let it make its way down the sides on its own. If using, sprinkle sesame seeds overtop. Let your rolls rise for another 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350F.
Bake rolls for 25 minutes. They are ready when the tops have deep fissures, and the cracked edges are golden. Let cool, and serve.