That Other San Francisco Bread

Dutch Crunch RollWhen you mention bread and San Francisco everyone says sourdough. It’s become so associated with San Francisco that no one thinks you can make it anywhere else. You can actually. Sourdough can be made anywhere in the world, but unless it’s made in San Francisco it doesn’t have the correct culture in it that gives it that taste.

A funny thing happened to me today. Wife asked me about a certain type of bread that our daughter now loves. She asked me, what makes the crunch on a Dutch Crunch roll? I never had them before I came here. Well that sparked me to search for the history of the Dutch Crunch Roll after looking up what made the crunch [note: it’s a very loose rice flour yeast dough].

As it turns out the bread was originally made in the Netherlands where it is called Tijgerbrood or Tiger Bread. Apparently someone at the Galli Sanitary Bakery made and sold some back in 1909 and called it Dutch Crunch Bread and that was the end of it until around the 60’s or 70’s when the now defunct Parisian Bakery started to make Dutch Crunch Rolls. For some strange reason then never ventured outside of the Bay Area and barely left San Francisco, but having to take the back seat to sourdough bread left a lot of people not having any idea that you could only find it in the Bay Area.

I remember starting to get it  around the 80’s so it even took time for the locals to know what it was. I had gone to get a sandwich somewhere and they asked if I wanted it on sourdough or Dutch Crunch. Me being the purist type that I am and thinking that sourdough with anything other than butter is a bit of heresy said, Dutch Crunch. There really isn’t that much special about a Dutch Crunch Roll at first. It’s like white bread in a roll with a crunchy topping and that is really the ultimate simplicity of it that makes it so wonderful for sandwiches.

When you make a sandwich on sliced white bread your fingers compress it into something makes the whole sandwich feel like deli meat wrapped in dough. It’s not a very good sandwich feeling. To this day I can only eat peanut butter and jelly or Bologna and American Cheese on white bread [the more overly processed the better]. If you’re using a sourdough or French roll for a sandwich there are all those big nooks and crannies that everyone likes that really suck if you like mustard or mayo on a sandwich. Enter the Dutch Crunch Roll — it’s white bread — in a roll. It doesn’t turn back to dough when you squeeze it because of the crunchy topping and doesn’t give you pockets to fill with mustard and/or mayo to explode into your mouth or squirt out on your shirt. It is the perfect vehicle for meat and cheese and anything else you put on your sandwich.

I’m sure I could find an architect who could give a dissertation on the construction of the roll extolling the virtues of the hard, crunchy exoskeleton of the roll properly supports the soft, spongy interior that both cradles and grips onto the sandwich ingredients to keep them from fighting their way out of the bread as you eat your sandwich, but I think I’ve done good enough in my last few sentences. While you can make a Dutch Crunch Roll anywhere in the world, for some reason no one’s ever thought of it outside of San Francisco and the Netherlands [though I hear the U.K. is giving it a go now.]


This Place It Is A Changin’…

For some reason there’s a cafe on Taraval Street between 27th and 28th that can’t seem to stay in business for more than about three months. It’s not in that bad a location, but the awning and the name every few months with very little changing on the inside. The free wifi even has the same name as went it first opened about 5 years ago.

The name kept changing from Mocha 101 to Green Cafe to now Rolling Out. The names have changed so much that I can’t even remember most of them now. There’s always a few people in there, but not like some of the other cafes that have people lined up and sitting outside. The staff stayed the same for awhile but now I’ve noticed different people at the register. The inside is almost exactly the same as when it open so all this just seems funny to me.

I don’t know if the place changes hands or if the owner is just very into redecorating. The menu has changed a little bit, now focusing on sweeter treats and sandwiches made with homemade bread. At $4.75 a pop that’s not too bad a price considering I’ve seen sandwiches going for $6.50 closer down to me.

I’m not sure what it is in general with Taraval street, but there’s always a high turnover in businesses on the street unless you get farther out towards the beach where little changes. Unless you’re a gas station or 7-11 or El Burrito Express you can’t expect to stay in business very long on Taraval.

I just wonder why that is?


Devil’s Teeth Baking Company

I like the idea of a new bakery in the Sunset, but they usually have an aim at a French flair or Italian flair, or no flair whatsoever and end up closing quickly. I have to say that my trip to the Devil’s Teeth Baking Company definitely had that funky outer Sunset flair with a dash of techie added to it.

This is a relatively new place that I actually heard about at’s website. When you walk into the place it has a bit of that funky industrialized look that you see on the food network with everything laid out in the case with very little adornment so that you focus on the food first. My first surprise was that most bakery’s focus on just cakes and cookies, the sweet things of life. This place offered dishes of sustenance to balance out your sweet tooth such as lasagna, curried chicken, soup and quiche. My wife and I figured we would just get some cookies and cake and head home, but she chose the lasagna so we’d have lunch covered, a chocolate chip cookie for our daughter and a blondie for me.

Total cost: $10.50. Now here’s were the surprise came in. The $5 lasagna was about eight inches long and five inches high. This was a huge slab that could have fed us for two meals. It probably had about 3 days servings of vegetables in it, so we were eating pretty healthy. It was so big that we had to put the sweets aside until we had more room for them. Lasagna is one of those things that you rarely go wow over. It’s usually good. For Italian Americans it’s kind of a staple. This is was pretty good lasagna and for the price, that made it even better. Later on in the day we got to dive into the cookie and blondie. The cookie was big and my daughter only ate half of it. We ate the rest and it was soft, but not soft like the Mrs. Field’s softened by some chemical type of soft, but a buttery soft. This was one damn fine chocolate chip cookie. Biting into the blondie was a burst of butter and brown sugar topped off with white chocolate and dark chocolate chips finished off by the crunch of the nuts. I know I definitely will be returning this week.

For the techie side of things, the store’s cash register is an iPad running the square software. This is the software I’ve talked about previously that lets small businesses take credit cards without the monthly charge or transaction fee. They swiped my card and I signed on the iPad after which I received a text message that allowed me to hook up with the bakery via the square app. Now when I go in I can just pull out my iPhone or Android and open a tab that makes paying quicker. Because they are only charged a percentage  and no transaction fee you won’t see a sign that says, “Credit Card Minimum $10” or “Cash Only” like you do at other places. This is a pretty slick piece of free software.

Devil’s Teeth Baking Company also boasts Blue Bottle Coffee and Beignet Sundays. Expect to wait in line when you go, not because they are slow, but because they are busy. Check them out. NOW!