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Jun 16, 2023

Tiger Bread Rolls

These Tiger bread rolls, with a soft crumb and a crust coated with a crunchy mottled crust are wonderful for sandwiches and dinner rolls. The crunchy crust comes from a rice flour paste that you spread over the shaped rolls. 

Tiger Bread Rolls in a white bowl.

This bread is characterized by its soft and pillowy crumb and thin crispy crust that is unique because it is spread with a rice flour, oil, sugar, and yeast concoction in the middle of the second rise. 

Once you place these shaped and topped rolls in the oven, the topping for this bread sets in the oven and then cracks as the dough undergoes oven spring. Watching it through your oven window is totally fun. 

Tiger Bread Rolls after baking with a tiger pattern on the crust.

About Tiger Bread and Rolls:

The bread has roots in the Netherlands, where it is called Tijgerbroodje (for the loaf version) or Tijgerbolletjes (for the smaller rolls). 

For some reason, this bread has taken hold in San Francisco, becoming popular in the 1980s. 

In San Francisco it's called Dutch Crunch Bread, where it's baked into long loaves or submarine style loaves and used for deli-style sandwiches

I made a tasty breakfast sandwich with a crispy fried egg, melty cheese, and thinly sliced ham. 

Tiger Bread Roll breakfast sandwich with egg, cheese, and ham.

This recipe is from my Netherlands-based friend Ralph Nieboer. He is an amazing bread baker and he teaches bread baking classes across Europe. 

You can find him on his Instagram page and Facebook page. Be sure to give him a follow. His bread skills are amazing. Two of my favorite recipes from Ralph that I've made are Easy No Knead Crusty German Rolls and Pain Cordon de Bourgogne. 

If you check out his pages, you'll see that he is a master bread baker. 

Tiger Bread Rolls with one roll in front cut in half.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

The preferment includes bread flour, warm milk, and a tiny amount of instant yeast. For the preferment, you can substitute 150 grams of active sourdough starter instead. 

The final dough includes all of the preferment, bread flour, salt, instant yeast, milk, and butter. 

You could use water instead of milk in the dough and preferment, or half water and milk. If you want, you can add a tablespoon of sugar to this recipe for a little bit of sweetness. If you do, the rising time may be a bit faster. 

You can also substitute about 75 grams of the flour with whole wheat without losing the "spirit" of this bread. 

For the crunchy topping, you will need rice flour, bread crumbs, boiling water, vegetable oil, salt, sugar, and instant yeast. Ralph's topping is different from the typical tiger bread in that it includes breadcrumbs (I used panko). Most recipes use just rice flour. 

For the rice flour, I used white rice flour from Bob's Red Mill. Brown rice flour will also work. Just do not use glutinous / sweet rice flour, which is sticky and won't work for making this topping. I've used it for making mochi or senbei, Japanese rice crackers

If you love baking bread, you probably have a bag of rice flour on hand for sprinkling your bannetons because it's so nonstick. That's the rice flour you want for this recipe. 

Finally, I've also seen recipes that substitute sesame oil for the vegetable oil. While I haven't tried it yet, it sounds intriguing. 

Tiger Bread Rolls topped with a rice porridge topping before baking.

When you make the topping, it should be thick but spreadable. I used a damp offset spatula to do a final smoothing before letting the rolls go through their final rise. Be sure to let the topping sit before spreading it over the rolls to prevent it from sliding off. 

You can also use this topping for a white bread sandwich loaf. 

How Does this Topping Work?

Because rice flour doesn't have any gluten, it doesn't expand while the bread is baking. Thus, you end up with these "tiger-style" cracks on the crust. 

This is also why the wheat-based topping for Pineapple Buns (bolo bao) holds together, while the topping for these ends up with these tiger-patterned cracks. 

Tiger Bread Rolls stacked on a cutting board.


First, make the preferment and let it sit for 12 to 16 hours. 

Next, mix the flour and milk and autolyse for about 90 minutes. Then, mix in the rest of the dough ingredients, either by hand or machine for several minutes until you have a smooth and tacky dough. Let it rise until doubled. 

While the dough is rising, make the rice flour topping. 

When the dough is ready, form it into ten rolls and let them rise fifteen minutes before coating with the topping. 

After that, let the rolls continue to rise another 45 minutes while you heat your oven. 

Finally, bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes. While not necessary, I used my oven's convection function for the last 5 minutes to encourage more browning of the topping.  

Tiger Bread Rolls on a cooling rack.


These rolls are best the day they are made or possibly the next day. After that, individually wrap any leftovers and freeze them. If you've made a sandwich loaf, slice it first before freezing. 

Dutch crunch rolls in a white bowl.

I have a huge list of Dutch recipes I want to make, including pofertjes, or Dutch mini pancakes. I'm just resisting buying the special pan! 

I do have a recipe for Rondo's, which is kind of a cross between a pie and a cookie... and yes, dear apostrophe police, I guess the apostrophe is supposed to be there. While the rondo's are typically made with a special ring, I was able to make them in my  muffin pan. 

Bread Baking Babes:

For our June bread, we are making Tiger Rolls and I am this month's host. After the recipe, be sure to check out all of the Babe's versions of these rolls. 

Tiger Bread Rolls in a basket.

Tiger Rolls Recipe

Tiger Rolls Recipe
Yield: 10 rolls
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 1 HourCook time: 25 MinInactive time: 14 HourTotal time: 15 H & 25 M
These Tiger bread rolls are wonderful for sandwiches and dinner rolls.


For the Preferment
  • 75 grams bread flour
  • 75 grams milk heated to 113 degrees F (45 degrees F)
  • .3 grams instant yeast
For the Final Dough
  • 500 grams bread flour
  • 350 grams milk, about 75 degrees F
  • All of the preferment
  • 1.5 grams of instant yeast
  • 37.5 grams softened butter, cut into small pieces
  • 8 grams salt
For the Tiger Porridge
  • 20 grams rice flour (not glutinous rice flour)
  • 20 grams ground bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs
  • 137 grams boiling water
  • 1.5 grams salt
  • 2.5 grams granulated sugar
  • 2.5 grams vegetable oil
  • 1.75 grams instant yeast


To Make the Preferment
  1. Stir together all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and let ferment for 12 to 16 hours.
To Make the Dough
  1. Mix the flour and milk together by hand in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cover and let sit for 1 1/2 hours.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix on low for 8 minutes, and then medium high for 3 minutes. The dough should be tacky but not sticky. I added one teaspoon of extra flour to bring it together.
  3. Form the dough into a ball and place it into an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 60 to 90 minutes.
To Make the Porridge
  1. While the dough is rising, in a smallish bowl, mix the rice flour and bread crumbs. Add the boiling water, stir, and let the mixture rest until it reaches about 77 degrees F. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, cover, and let rest for an hour.
To Shape and Bake the Rolls
  1. Begin heating your oven to 425 degrees F. with a rack in the middle.
  2. Deflate the dough and cut it into 10 equal size pieces, about 100 grams each. Shape each into roll and place them, seam side down, onto a parchment lined half-sheet pan. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes.
  3. Divide and dollop the porridge among the the 10 rolls and then spread gently over the rolls with the back of a spoon. It's about a tablespoon per rolls. You can smooth the porridge with and offset spatula.
  4. Let rise for an additional 45 minutes, uncovered.
  5. Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, until the topping has browned as pictured. I switched to convection for the last 5 minutes. The interior temperature of the rolls was about 205 degrees F.
  6. Cool on a wire rack.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

6 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

3 g

Carbs (grams)

47 g

Fiber (grams)

2 g

Net carbs

46 g

Sugar (grams)

3 g

Protein (grams)

9 g

Cholesterol (grams)

13 mg
rolls, Dutch crunch, Tiger rolls
Did you make this recipe?
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The Bread Baking Babes' Versions:

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Feeding My Enthusiasms

Would you like to comment?

  1. Your Tiger Rolls look superb! Thanks for choosing these buns as the monthly bake. I only have one left. I need to make some more.

  2. I am enjoying another for dinner as eggs benedict and toast with jam. YUM!

    1. My husband would be so thrilled if I made eggs Benedict with these! Great idea.

  3. I learn so much from you! These look delicious and I love the spotted tops.

  4. What an excellent choice, Karen! Even though what I made weren't quite as beautiful as yours, this bread and rolls were such a big hit that there was a special request to put the topping onto our everyday bread.

    Next stop after that will be Ralph Nieboer's Pain Cordon de Bourgogne. That looks and sounds great!

  5. I want your breakfast sandwich. It's gorgeous!


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