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Tiger bread is soft and fluffy with an irresistibly crunchy topping that also gives it a unique and memorable pattern. Despite looking so fancy it’s really easy to make and doesn’t require much extra effort than a standard loaf.
What is it?
Tiger bread, also known as Dutch crunch bread, originated in the Netherlands where it has been popular for around 50 years. While it got its name because the baker who invented it believed it looked like the stripes of a tiger on top, it does look more like a giraffe’s pattern to most. In fact, a large UK supermarket chain changed the name to ‘giraffe bread’ back in 2011 after a 3-year-old girl wrote to them, suggesting it be renamed. The name seems to have stuck until today.
The recipe uses standard bread ingredients and is then topped with a rice paste, which is a mixture made from rice flour, oil (I use sesame for extra flavour), yeast and sugar.
How does it work?
Now for the science bit. Rice doesn’t contain gluten. This means that while it is baking it doesn’t expand. The rice paste brushed on top of the dough clings to the surface of the bread and stops parts of it from expanding fully, causing it to crack as it grows in the oven.
What can I serve it with?
As this bread is quite mild in taste, yet amazing in texture, it works for a whole variety of uses. You can use it instead of regular bread for a sandwich, serve it with a steaming bowl of soup, or simply slater it with butter, jams or nut/chocolate spreads.
A few ideas to try:
- As a crunchy casing for these tender prawn sandwiches
- Served up with this carrot and orange soup
- With these BBQ jackfruit sandwiches for a delicious meat-free lunch
- As an alternative to sliced bread in this best-ever chicken club sandwich
Why didn’t my bread rise?
If your bread didn’t rise while proofing (the period of resting after kneading) then the most likely culprit is your yeast. There are typically a few reasons why:
- Your yeast was dead. If you are using yeast from a packet that’s been open more than 3 or 4 months, it’s probably past its best. Or maybe it had expired based on the date on the packet and you didn’t realise.
- You didn’t use the right temperature water. To activate yeast, it needs warm water. This is around 45C or 110F. For those of us who don’t have time to start taking the temperature of water, this is slightly warm but not hot. Cooler than you would want to use for a shower or washing up.
- You didn’t give the yeast time to activate. This is usually around 5 minutes, but sometimes a little longer. Leave it until the top is frothy. If it doesn’t turn frothy then your yeast is probably past its best.
You might also hear that sugar is required to activate the yeast. This is not strictly true, however, the sugar will cause the yeast to froth up in the liquid. While only useful for cosmetics, it is a great visual cue as to whether the yeast is active or not.
How long does it keep?
Baked tiger bread will keep fresh for 3-4 days when stored in a sealed container or bread bin.
If you want to keep the bread for longer then you can wrap it really well in clingfilm and freeze it for up to 3 months. Defrost thoroughly before use.
For a full list of ingredients with weights and measurements jump to the printable recipe card.
For the bread
- Water, slightly warm
- White sugar
- Active dry yeast
- Plain/all-purpose flour
- Butter, unsalted, melted
For the rice paste
- Rice flour
- White sugar
- Active dry yeast
- Sesame oil – you can alternatively use any kind of cooking oil you prefer
How to make it
For more detailed recipe steps with tips jump to the printable recipe card.
- Mix together the water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Stir until fully combined and set aside until the top of the water has turned frothy
- Mix the flour, salt and butter in another bowl and then add the yeast mixture a little at a time until fully combined.
- Knead the dough until it is smooth and doesn’t compress when prodded with your finger.
- Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave in a warm place for around 1 hour, until doubled in size.
- Decompress the dough by kneading a couple of times then slice into 6 pieces. Form each piece into a bread roll shape and then place them on a lined baking tray. Brush the top of each with oil and cover with clingfilm. Leave for a further 30 minutes.
- Make the rice paste by mixing together all the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
- Brush the top of each bread roll with the rice paste mixture. Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes, until golden brown on top.
Looking for more great bread recipes? Try:
Products that work well for this recipe
Bread Baking Kit
Rolling Pin and Silicone Baking Pastry Mat Set
Linen Bread Bags – 2-Pack
Ever wondered how to make that soft & fluffy bread with that crunchy patterned topping? Learn how to make Tiger Bread at home – it’s easier than you think!
The default recipe makes 6 bread rolls.
- 250ml / 1 cup water, warm (see note 1)
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 1.5 tsp active dry yeast
- 400g / 14oz plain/all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 15g / 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
For the rice paste:
- 4 tbsp rice flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 4 tbsp water, warm (see note 1)
- 1 tbsp sesame oil (see note 2)
- Mix together the water, sugar, salt and yeast until everything is dissolved. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, until the top of the liquid turns frothy. (see note 3)
- In a large bowl mix the flour, salt and melted butter. Add the water and yeast mixture a little at a time, until fully combined into a solid dough.
- Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead until it is smooth and the surface springs back when pressed. This will take around 10 minutes. If you are using a stand mixture it will take around half this time.
- Lightly grease a large bowl with some oil and then place the dough inside. Brush the top of the dough with a little oil and cover with clingfilm. Leave the dough to proof in a warm place for around 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
- Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead a couple of times to deflate. Cut it into 6 pieces and shape each piece into a bread roll shape. (see note 4)
- Place the bread rolls onto a baking tray lined with baking/parchment paper making sure you have around a 2cm/1in gap between them. Brush the top of each roll with oil and then cover with clingfilm. Leave for a further 30 minutes until doubled in size again.
- While the dough is proofing make the rice paste by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl. The consistency should be thick but spreadable. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
- Remove the film from the bread rolls and brush the rice paste across the top of each.
- Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes until golden on top. (see note 5)
- The water needs to be around 60C/110F. In practical terms, this means warm, but not hot. Definitely a lot cooler than you would use to shower or wash up.
- While sesame oil adds some extra flavour to the topping, you can alternatively use any kind of cooking oil.
- If the yeast doesn’t turn frothy (and you definitely added the sugar to the water) then it may be because the yeast is past its best which will stop the bread from rising. I recommend using a different packet.
- You can alternatively cut the dough into two pieces and shape into two medium-sized loaves. The baking time will need to be extended by around 10 minutes.
- The bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. If it doesn’t seem done then return to the oven for a few minutes at a time until ready.
- Baked tiger bread will keep fresh for 3-4 days when stored in a sealed container or bread bin. If you want to keep the bread for longer then you can wrap it really well in clingfilm and freeze it for up to 3 months. Defrost thoroughly before use.
- Prep Time: 2.5 hours
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Side
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: Bread
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 350
- Fat: 12g
- Carbohydrates: 21g
- Protein: 34g
Keywords: bread, side dish, snack