Bread, a simple and humble food that has been called the Staff of Life in the Bible. Researchers have found evidence of bread-like crumbs dating back to about 14000 years at an archaeological site in Jordan. This predates the start of agriculture by thousands of years. During the Neolithic times, bread was nothing but a paste of water and ground cereal cooked over a fire. History also suggests the earliest bread was made in Egypt in 8000 BC. This bread was an uncouth form of what we call sourdough today, and the Egyptians’ beer-making and fermentation skills made breadmaking successful.
The variations of bread over thousands of years in different cultures leave us baffled today. The list of versions of bread is long and varied, so here we will take up a few of them that we see around us daily and which are easily available today.
The flour used to make whole wheat bread or more commonly called wheat bread is just like the name suggests: whole wheat grain flour. As history suggests, the wealthy Romans could afford to eat white bread which was fluffier and softer, and thus deemed to be of better quality. The poor could only afford to eat brown bread made out of bran or rye and beneath the rich. In the 20th century, tables turned and whole wheat bread was finally touted to be the healthier option.
This particular loaf of bread is coated with broken grains of wheat or oats to add a decorative quotient. The nutritional value of this bread comes from the iron, magnesium, and fibre it contains.
Whole wheat bread originated in the US. There are many ways to relish this bread as it is very versatile. Have it in a sandwich with spreads or as croutons, what you do with it is only limited by your imagination!
Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread
This cheesy and flavourful comfort food has a crisp crust speckled with herbs. Turns out the original pull-apart bread was a Christmas morning sweet treat also known as monkey bread. This bready pastry somehow found a cousin in the cheesy pull-apart version.
What’s better than butter, cheddar, and provolone stuffed in the crevices of crisscrossed dough, then baked to perfection. Crusty bread topped with crusty cheese is what dreams are made up of. Then there’s the gooey cheese in between that takes things to a whole new level. This indulgent bread is perfect to eat as is. Just pull apart pieces, as the name suggests, and dig in!
The hotdog bun is a roll that is more of a sandwich bread when split lengthwise. That’s right, this one is a whole lot of things in one. Stuffed with meaty sausage and topped with a motley of sauces and sprinkles, it’s a fan-favourite stadium food. The hotdog is so iconic that though it’s raved over quintessentially in America, we’ve all heard of it and have been tempted to try it. Interestingly though, hotdogs might not be all-American after all. They were invented in the times of Nero by the Romans and brought over to American by German immigrants. It’s come a long way and has, over the years, gathered a lot of baggage—the good kind, the tasty kind. Though the classic hotdog is a simple sausage or frankfurter topped with ketchup and mustard, today it has many versions. From bacon-wrapped to topped with caramelized onions, feta cheese, and the works, hotdogs have evolved with the times.
This small round flatbread steams and puffs up creating a pocket: a pocket that can be stuffed with the most delectable chow.
Prehistoric Middle-East boasts the origin of this versatile flatbread and evidence found in Jordan supports the claim that this bread was eaten during the Stone Age, though it was made from wild grains and cereals then. Pita bread has a long and colourful association with Greece and Middle Eastern cuisine.
This bread can be used as wraps with falafel, gyros, and kebabs. If slit into triangles and baked further, it can be served with hummus and Baba Ganoush. Pita sandwiches can hold a choice of meats, vegetables, and sauces, making them adaptable in any cuisine.
The origin of baguettes is the foodies’ heaven, France. This peculiar bread is long with a crispy crust and a chewy inside. It is eaten with ham and butter throughout Europe. Baguettes came into being as long crusty loaves of bread when bakers needed an alternative to the time-consuming round loaves. It is typically savoured by tearing and dipping in olive oil or slathered with butter. Again, you can make sandwiches galore with baguettes stuffed with vegetables and meats.
This fat round bread probably has the longest fermentation cycle as the dough slowly produces lactobacilli and natural yeasts during the long hours it is resting. The lactic acid produced in the process lends it a slightly sour taste which is a trademark of this exquisite bread and hence the name—sourdough. Omitting the packaged yeast makes this bread much healthier than the other quick-rise ones. Sourdough is something every fermentation enthusiast attempts at some point, but though you can attempt to bake it, it’s also quite easily available in the market today.
This chewy bread with its mild tangy flavour will become your new favourite when you see how many ways it can be relished in. Sandwiches with this crusty bread are a given, but you can also slather dressings or dip them in sauces. This interesting bread can be made as a bread bowl to hold your soup and then can be eaten up towards the end of the meal. Remember the trencher bread in medieval cuisine if you have watched Game Of Thrones? That’s sourdough!
Learn more about bread by tracing the journey of bread in India.
Article by Payal Kurian