Oh man you guys, just look at how CUTE this little Turtle is! Look closer: he is made out of bread! He is Turtle Bread! When I was traveling in Switzerland for a work meeting last week, I was overwhelmed by the amount of delicious home-made bread you could find just about everywhere you went. I was exploring a little bakery right next to my hotel when I came across this little guy. Not only did he awaken the “Awww!” factor in my heart, he also brought on a wave of nostalgia. You see, I can still quite clearly recall making Turtle Bread in the 1st grade. It must have been an easy recipe for kids to make, because I remember going down to the school kitchen to work the dough, learning the process of making bread, and ULTIMATELY, getting to EAT our delicious and cute creations! It must have made a big impact on me, because I can still remember thinking it was THE MOST DELICIOUS bread I had EVER eaten in my entire life!! (Which at that time, was a grand total of about six years.)
My attempts to seek out the history of Turtle Bread were not very successful, however, my quest led me to a new discovery of yet another Dutch–East Indies–Southeast Asia connection! Because my Google search term was “Turtle Bread”, my first virtual destination was this article on “the kitchn”, Is It a Tiger? Is It a Giraffe? It’s Dutch Crunch Bread (Tijgerbrood)! The beautiful picture of the Dutch Crunch Bread surprised me, because it looked remarkably similar to some delicious breads I’ve eaten from Chinese bakeries here in Los Angeles:
The reason this article popped up first in my search is because it links to a post on Bourbonnatrix Bakes
that depicts how to make turtles out of Dutch Crunch bread (or, as Bourbonnatrix calls them, “crackle buns”). To get the recipe for the Dutch Crunch Bread, the kitchn also links to The Novice Housewife
, where provides a delicious explanation of how to make the bread in your own kitchen. Surprisingly, it’s not the bread itself that makes it “Dutch Crunch Bread” (or “Tijgerbrood” in the Netherlands), but the topping (which can be applied to any variety of breads). The topping is rice flour, yeast, sugar, salt, oil, and water, spread over the bread before baking such that the paste dries and cracks during the baking process. This makes the “tiger stripe” pattern which led to its official name, Tijgerbrood or “Tiger bread”. The rice paste crust also gives the bread its distinctive flavor.
Here is where the Dutch–East Indies–Southeast Asian link comes in: The Novice Housewife also linked to an article in The Bay Citizen
which explained that the idea for coating bread with a rice paste probably resulted from Dutch traders traveling to Indonesia. Whoa…So yet again, something that I think is a Dutch invention really originated in Southeast Asia! I guess it is why this Tijgerbrood reminded me so much of the Pineapple bread I’ve had at Chinese bakeries here in Los Angeles. I found this picture from Kristie Hang
‘s blog on where to dine for Asian cuisine in Los Angeles (specifically San Gabriel Valley), and was happy to see one of our favorite bakeries highlighted for the pineapple bread! (If you’re never had the pleasure of visiting a Chinese bakery, a quick visit to Kirbie’s Cravings
will provide you with plenty of mouth-watering pictures to give you a good idea!)
So anyways, a cute bread I found in Switzerland triggered a research quest which led to the discovery of yet another Dutch—Southeast Asian connection. What a fun world we live in!
For those interested in the Turtle Bread recipe, I found one on Betty Crocker’s website. A quick Google search will give you several other options, though! Let me know if you try to make it!
Betty Crocker’s Turtle Bread