Get to know the different types of bread all over the world. Learn about the distinguishing characteristics for each and how the different cultures enjoy them as part of their diet.
Bread is the most widely consumed food in the world and has been a staple food since the earliest times. There’s evidence from 30,000 years ago in Europe that the early man used starch extracts, possibly from the roots of cattails and ferns, to make flatbread.
The Neolithic man around 10,000 B.C. discovered agriculture and used grains for making his bread. The Ancient Egyptians, on the other hand, used yeast as a leavening agent as early as 4,000 B.C. The Greeks picked up breadmaking from the Egyptians and then spread it across Europe.
Along with wheat, bread was considered more important than meat among the ancient Romans. The color of bread consumed also indicated one’s social standing with the darker bread, the lower the social ranking.
Table of Contents
- Basic Types of Bread
- Unique and Specialty Types of Bread
Basic Types of Bread
This is a yeast bread that originated in France and has a long, oblong shape with slits in it to allow for the expansion of gas. Also called French bread or French sticks, Baguettes are usually made from flour, water, yeast, and salt, and its look is very recognizable to bread lovers of all kinds.
A French bread made with butter and eggs, Brioche is extremely light and has a subtle sweetness to it. Its crust is soft and it has a golden-yellow shade due to the egg that you brush on it right before you bake it. Even with French toast, Brioche bread is a perfect choice, and if you’ve never tasted this type of bread before, there is no better time than right now to get started.
Ciabatta is the Italian word for “slipper,” and this Italian-made bread consists of just a few basic ingredients, including water, salt, yeast, and wheat flour. Depending on where in Italy you find this type of bread, its crust and even its texture can vary, but the main ingredients are the exact same in every loaf you find. Ciabatta bread is perfect for paninis and sandwiches, as well as many other dishes.
This type of bread comes from Italy and is usually baked in a baking pan so that it comes out flat. The dough is much like that of pizza dough and is usually coated with olive oil before baking. The crust comes out crunchy, yet delicate, and you can even add various herbs and garlic to the recipe if you wish. Focaccia bread can be eaten by itself or dipped in soup or salad dressings and other dips.
With a rich hearty flavor, multigrain bread usually uses grains such as oats, barley, flax, and millet, as well as others, so it is extremely healthy and delicious. It is perfect for your morning toast, sandwiches, or to dip in dressings or vegetable oil that has been sprinkled with herbs.
There are a lot of things you can do with a piece of pita bread, including dipping it into sauces after you cut it into wedges and filling it with various types of meats for a tasty and delicious sandwich. Pita bread originated in the Midwest and is cooked at very high temperatures, which makes the dough’s liquid escape. There is also a large air bubble in the center – the “pocket” of the bread – for stuffing with meat and other foods, and it is made mostly of wheat flour.
Made with both rye flour and bread flour, rye bread consists of a tight crumb and a very strong flavor. Some bakers even add caraway seeds or dill seeds so that their flavor is a little earthy. In certain sandwiches – most notably, corned-beef and pastrami sandwiches – the rye bread is what gives it the signature taste that most people love, and they become even more appreciated when you add a little mustard.
With sourdough bread, a starter is used in the beginning to create the recipe. The starter usually consists of a fermented combination of water and flour, which in turn makes many different batches of bread. Another advantage of this type of bread is that the starter lasts a very long time, which means you can make loaf after loaf of sourdough bread for a very long time.
Sourdough bread has a nice thick crust and a soft chewy center, along with very large air bubbles. It also has a very distinct taste that you’ll want more of once you try it, and it can accompany any type of sandwich you wish to make.
Whole Wheat Bread
With white bread, only parts of the wheat grain are used, but in whole-wheat bread the germ and the bran are intact. What does this mean for those eating this bread? It means the bread is more nutritious and has much more fiber than regular bread. You can use whole-wheat bread for any type of sandwich you would normally use white bread for, and you can make up your own recipes if you are creative enough.
Unique and Specialty Types of Bread
Mostly eaten in Colombia and Venezuela, this bread is made of cornmeal and is flat and round. You can bake it, grill it, or fry it, and you can even include various fillings such as ground beef and black beans. Since it is not made with wheat, Arepa bread is naturally gluten-free.
Bagels are usually boiled in water for a short time then baked afterward. They are round, come in two parts, and have a hole in the center. The best part about buying bagels is their numerous types, such as egg, cinnamon, and blueberry. Try them in a traditional way by eating them with salmon or cream cheese.
A popular Indian flatbread, Chapati bread is usually grilled until it gets a freckled appearance. You can eat it with vegetables or lentils, or even make a sandwich with it. It is usually made with whole-wheat flour and cooked with no oil, and you can even add a little butter to it if you want it to have a little more flavor.
Originating from Australia, this type of bread consists basically of flour, water, salt, and sometimes milk. It is usually eaten with stew or meat, and at one time it was cooked over an open campfire. It is tasty and versatile, and you can even add some baking soda for leavening if you like.
These are small, round, flat types of bread that can be made of either white or whole wheat. You can eat them with poached eggs, bacon, or even a Hollandaise sauce. More often than not, English muffins are healthier than many other types of muffins and bread, but the American version is a little different than the original English muffins, so a little research might be in order.
Somewhat similar to breadsticks, Grissini is made of crisp, dry bread and are thin sticks that resemble a pencil. Native to Italy, these bread can be flavored any way you want them to be, so feel free to add herbs and spices of any type to liven up the flavor. They are mostly used as a before-dinner alternative to regular or garlic bread, but they can be eaten any way you wish.
This is a sourdough type of bread with a spongy texture and a slightly sour taste. Injera bread is usually made out of a tiny grain called teff, which comes from Ethiopia, and it is also used to scoop up the meats and stews that are normally placed on top of it.
This bread looks more like a cracker than regular bread, and it is made mostly of rye flour. It has a lot of fiber and can be served with cheese or any other type of food you love. The bread is dry and stiff, and even rectangular in shape like many crackers. The grains can vary and it can also include various herbs and spices. It is both yummy and nutritious.
Popular in areas such as Turkey and Iran, Lavash bread is a thin flatbread that is made only with flour, salt, and water. Low in fat, the bread is normally cooked in an oven and is softest when it is the freshest. You can also add poppy or sesame seeds to it for a little more flavor.
Matzo (Matzoh) Bread
Matzo bread is unleavened bread shaped like large crackers. Used in many traditional Jewish dishes and on certain Jewish holidays, the bread is made of the five grains mentioned in the bible – wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt. It can come in either soft or hard form, and it is both tasty and important in Jewish tradition.
This is an oven-baked flatbread that uses yogurt as one of its main ingredients. They are normally brushed with butter before baking, and they sometimes include toppings such as dried fruit, minced meat, and even garlic. They are common in many parts of Asia, and you can also find them in many of today’s supermarkets and farmers’ markets.
Obi Non Bread
Popular in Uzbek and Afghan dishes, this type of bread is a type of flatbread and is usually cooked in a clay oven. It is normally made only with flour, yeast, salt, water, and milk.
Made from whole-wheat flour, Paratha bread is a layered Indian flatbread that is usually fried or cooked in oil. You can also bake them for a little healthier alternative, and you can eat them with vegetables, potatoes, onions, eggs, and many other fillings. They are also very popular in countries such as Malaysia and Singapore.
This type of bread is found mostly in Russia and consists of a baked flatbread with some type of filling inside. Most of the time, this filling consists of mashed potatoes, millet, and even various types of meat, and you can place the filling either inside of the bread or on one side, then cover it up with the other side.
An unleavened flatbread, this bread is similar to Chapatti bread, and it is extremely popular in the Caribbean and in India. They are usually made with whole-wheat flour and water, and they are often coated with butter before baking to add a little flavor to them. In many cultures, Roti bread is served with spices as a healthy snack.
With ingredients that include buttermilk, salt, baking soda, and flour, this is a traditional type of bread in Ireland. It is also a bread that doesn’t need to be left alone for a while to rise, which means it can be made quickly and easily at any time.
Tortillas are soft, thin flatbreads utilized in numerous Mexican dishes, including enchiladas, burritos, wraps, and of course, tacos. Some are deep fried and some are not, but the good news is that you can alter the recipe a bit to make it a tad healthier without going to too much trouble. You can also use them with foods that include chicken, pork, and beef, so they are a very versatile type of bread.
This is a sweet bread that is usually topped with sugar and almonds and sprinkled with raisins or other fruits. The recipe for the bread is rather complex, but fortunately, there are different ways to prepare it. It is a festive European bread that is so rich and sweet that it is best to save it just for special occasions.
In certain countries – including the Czech Republic and Slovakia – it is usually served around Christmas time and consists of various traditions, one of which is jumping up and down while the dough is rising.
This is a paper-thin unleavened bread that is round in shape and comes from Turkey. It is similar to Lavash bread and is usually made from ingredients such as wheat flour, salt, and water, although some people add a tad of vegetable oil as well. You can include this type of bread in pastries with either sweet foods such as nuts or dried fruits, or with foods such as meats, cheeses, and vegetables.
This is a unique type of bread in that it looks like a large braid when you’re finished baking it. It is usually served with butter and jelly at breakfast time, and it is very rich and buttery. It is mostly found in countries such as Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, and it is made mostly with white flour, yeast, milk, butter, and eggs.
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