Originally called as tijgerbrood in Dutch, this bread is known to be from the Netherlands, but after a lot of research I came to believe that it was actually born in Indonesia.
WHAT IS IT?
It is basically a white loaf, sprayed white some rice paste on top before baking. As the bread rise in the oven, the lack of gluten in the rice flour will make the paste crack and form those “tiger” patterns.
THE EARLY HISTORY
There isn’t major traces about its history but if we focus not only on the bread, but on the whole Dutch history, we can make up some theories.
First we need to understand how rice flour made its way into the Netherlands. We have to go way back in the 17th century, when the Dutch established few colonies in Asia, precisely in India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan. Rice flour being often used in the last three countries. So it could have arrived there with ships traveling back and forth from the Netherlands to Asia.
Now we need to ask how this rice paste started to be spread on top of a loaf of bread. Well we can cite few Asian specialties having an outer crust different than the inside dough. For example there’s the Melon Pan in Japan, which is a brioche-type enriched dough with a sweet paste crust on top. A similar one would be the Bo Luo Bao or Chinese pineapple bun which has a similar paste on top. There’s few bread which has the same characteristics outside of Asia, like the Concha in Mexico, which is almost the same as the Melon Pan.
So baking a bread with an outer crust isn’t unique. But how did the paste turned out to be made with rice flour. Well harvesting wheat in some parts of Asia is tricky because of the weather, where growing rice is perfect with such humidity. For example, wheat is mostly grown in North China, where rice is mostly grown in South China. So believing that the Tiger Bread was born in Asia, we could imagine that a baker was missing some wheat flour and decided to make it with rice flour. Later on, the recipe would travel into the Netherlands thanks to the travel between the two regions.
There’s few blurry sources stating that the Tiger Bread started to be sold in the early 1900’s in the Netherlands. So I hardly think that it was born there, as the rice flour was rarely sold and barely used at that time in the country. So I don’t think that a Dutch baker would start using it.
THE IMPORTATION OF THE RECIPE
After the second World War, Indonesia, known as the Dutch East Indies at that time, started to get its independence back. The Indo-European people living there, composed of both the Dutch and the people they married, mostly women, started to repatriate into the Netherlands, but around 60,000 of them decided to make their way into the USA. They mostly moved into the West Coast, especially in San Francisco.
The city suddenly having a lot of Dutch, the Tiger Bread started to get popular and was then called called Dutch Crunch, which is still used nowadays. The bread got a sudden popularity in San Francisco in the 1950’s after this massive immigration, so we can think that they brought the recipe from Indonesia with them.
To conclude, with all of this informations, I really think that the Tiger bread was born in Indonesia, and not the Netherlands. Tell me in the comments what do you think.
THE DIFFERENT NAMES OF THE TIGER BREAD
It is originally called tijgerbrood in Dutch, and was then translated as Tiger Bread in English.
The American supermarket chain Wegmans sells it as Marco Polo Bread. The name might be in hommage to Marco Polo’s travels in Asia, but his history takes place in the 13th and 14th centuries, so way before the Dutch colonisation.
In January 2012, the English supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, changed the name Tiger Bread into Giraffe Bread after a three years old girl wrote to the company asking why it is called Tiger Bread when the stripes looks like a giraffe pattern. A petition was even created and after the popularity of this story, Sainsbury’s decided to change the name, stating that it was “a good idea”.
Nowadays, the Tiger Bread is pretty popular around the world, and like many other breads, gained popularity thanks to the social medias.
Now let’s move onto the recipe. But before there’s few points in need to clarify before jumping into it :
THE BREAD DOUGH
There isn’t a specific recipe. You can use any bread dough, stuff it with whatever you like, or enriched with milk, eggs or butter. For my part it is just a regular sourdough bread.
There’s few variations of the topping but basically it’s rice flour, water, yeast and salt. The measurements aren’t stricts, you can put more or less water but the goal is to have is spreadable mix. Not too thick as it will just be chunks of dough on top of the bread, and not too liquid or there isn’t gonna be any stripes. If you don’t have rice flour, you can use rye flour instead, but be careful not to work the dough too much otherwise the gluten in the flour will prevent the batter from cracking in the oven.
I saw some recipes using sesame oil in the topping mix. I haven’t try it personally, but I heard that it is giving a weird taste to the bread and the flavor doesn’t really match; not that I don’t like sesame oil, in contrary. But if you do, make sure to comment below and tell me how that went.
I did an oval-shape, but at the end the sides didn’t expand much and didn’t crack that much. Plus, the mix for the topping was slightly too liquid. I would advise to make round-shaped loaf (or loaves). The Tiger Bread Buns being an option, you can divide the dough and shape few buns out of it. But decrease the oven temperature to 220°C and the baking time to 15 to 25 min depending on the size of your bun.
Okay here’s the recipe :
- 250 g white bread flour
- 5 g salt
- 175 g water at room temp.
- 40 g liquid starter
- 2 g fresh yeast or 1g dried yeast
- 50 g rice flour
- 1 g salt
- 5 g sugar
- 3 g fresh yeast or 1g dried yeast
- ~60 g water depending of the flour, add more if too thick
Mix everything in a stand mixer for 3min in 1st speed then 7min in 2nd speed, or until the gluten is fully worked up. You can knead by hand but it’s gonna take you a bit longer.
Let it rest for 1 hour and 30 min then put the dough on a floured bench and give a fold.
Put the dough in a container or in a bowl and cover it, then place in the fridge for at least 12 hours. You can leave it longer if you like but try not to go more than 36 hours.
Put the dough on a floured bench when tap the dough to let the gases go out and make a ball out of it. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
Shape the dough as a “drop” and put it on a silpat or baking paper. Cover and let it prove for around 1 hour 30 if the temperature of your room is around 24°C. If lower let prove longer, if higher let prove quicker.
Make the topping mix and try not to make it too liquid like I did.
Spread it on top of the dough.
Bake it at 240°C for around 30 to 35min depending of your oven.
Take it out and let it cool down on a wire rack.