How to make tiger bread

By BBC Maestro

Baking
Last updated: 25 April 2022

Once you’ve seen a loaf of tiger bread, you won’t forget it. Distinctive because of its mottled appearance, tiger bread is a delicious treat to enjoy when you grow tired of your standard loaf.

This tasty bread has boomed in popularity over the last decade. Would you like to learn how to make tiger bread from the comfort of your own home? Here we’ll share all the tips and tricks you need to whip up a couple of your very own tiger bread loaves, with this easy-to-follow recipe.

Where does tiger bread come from?

Tiger bread is a Dutch bread with a mottled crust that looks much like the stripes on a tiger. It is believed tiger bread has been sold in the Netherlands since the early 1970s, and today it is sold almost all over the world. 

Tiger bread has become so popular that you’re likely to find a loaf for sale in your local supermarket or bakery. But many enthusiastic bakers prefer to bake a loaf at home, so they can enjoy that freshly baked taste, hot out of the oven.

What is different about tiger bread?

Tiger bread is made from a combination of bread dough and rice paste. The rice paste is used to top the loaf or rolls, and - as it does not contain gluten - this part of the bread does not stretch like classic bread dough. Instead, the topping cracks across the surface whilst baking, creating that distinctive tiger stripe appearance.

tiger bread

What is tiger bread made of?

Tiger bread is made of simple ingredients including flour, water, yeast and salt, plus rice flour, sugar and oil for the glazed topping.

Why do they call it tiger bread?

The mottled appearance of tiger bread is what gives it its name. However, tiger bread has been known to go by other monikers too. 

In 2012, 3-year-old Lily Robinson hit the headlines after writing to a major supermarket to suggest they rename the bread ‘giraffe bread’ as this better suited its appearance. Even top baker, Richard Bertinet suggests ‘leopard bread’ is a more accurate name to represent the bread with its crackled glaze.

What does tiger bread taste like?

Tiger bread is a savoury bake that has a soft, sponge-like consistency with a crunchy, slightly sweet crust on top.

richard bertinet baking

Tiger bread recipe

This tiger bread recipe makes 4 loaves.

Dough ingredients

1kg strong white bread flour

700g water

20g fresh yeast

20g fine sea salt

Topping ingredients

100g rice flour, plus a little extra for dusting 

5g fresh yeast 

10g caster sugar 

10g sesame oil 

150g water 


Method

  1. First, you’re going to make the dough. Put the flour and yeast into a bowl and mix well.
  2. Next, add the salt and water, and mix well.
  3. Once all the ingredients are well blended, with no water or flour still showing around the bowl, and your dough looks like sticky porridge, use your scraper to release the dough cleanly from the bowl and turn it out onto your work surface without flouring it first.
  4. Knead the dough - remember you are trying to add air to the mixture, rather than push the air out. (For tips on how to knead like a pro, we highly recommend Richard Bertinet’s baking course.)
  5. Next, you need to form the dough into a ball. At this stage you can lightly flour the work surface.
  6. Lightly flour your mixing bowl, put the dough back in and cover with a baking cloth. Leave your dough somewhere cosy for around 1-1½ hours, until it has doubled in volume, and is bouncy and full of air pockets.
  7. Now to give this tiger bread some stripes! To mix the paste, add the flour and yeast to a bowl and mix well.
  8. Then add the sugar, sesame oil and water to the mix and whisk together.
  9. Leave to thicken at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  10. Now get the original batch of dough you made and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Dust your hands with flour and work the dough into a rough rectangle shape.
  11. Then, with the long side facing you, take the upper edge of the dough and fold it into the centre and press down gently. Next, take the lower edge and fold it over the top. Now turn the dough over so that the ‘seam’ is underneath, and your smooth ‘top’ is back facing upwards. By folding in this way you create a strong ‘spine’ along the length of the dough.
  12. Now you are ready to divide the dough. Have your scales ready and use your scraper to cut and weigh it into four equal pieces of around 450g each.
  13. Take your first piece of dough and add it to your work surface, then ease it into a diamond shape. Fold the right-hand point of the diamond into the centre and then repeat with the left-hand point. As before, you are now creating a ‘spine’ to give strength to the dough. Repeat with all of the pieces of dough, then add to baking tins or a baking tray.
  14. Whisk your tiger bread paste again briefly and then use a pastry brush to quickly dab and paint it quite thickly over the top and sides of the dough.
  15. Dust generously all over with a little more rice flour, using a fine sieve and then cover with your baking cloth.
  16. Again, leave somewhere cosy to prove for around 1-1½ hours until the dough is just under double in volume and the paste has firmed up and cracked all over.
  17. Preheat your oven to 230°C/440°F.
  18. Fill a clean spray bottle with water. Transfer the tins or trays to the preheated oven and, just before closing the door, quickly mist inside the oven, taking care not to spray directly onto the dough. (The reason why you do this is to introduce steam which softens the top of the dough at the beginning of baking and stops the crust from forming too quickly.)
  19. After 10 minutes of baking, turn the temperature down to 210°C/410°F and bake for around 25 minutes.
  20. Once the tops of the loaves are golden, take them out of the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy your tiger bread loaf with sweet or savoury toppings, it’s perfect for a cheese and ham sandwich or with a little strawberry jam for a sweet treat.

Want to learn more about baking some of your favourite breads? Try out Richard Bertinet’s baking course on BBC Maestro and take your baking skills to a new level.

Course Notes
Course Notes

Learn to bake with Richard Bertinet

From tiger bread to stollen, ciabatta to sourdough - Richard's Bertinet is ready and waiting to share all his baking tips and tricks with you so you can enjoy freshly baked goods, straight from your own oven.