Archaeologists date the first consumption of bread to over 30,000 years ago! A product directly linked to the use of cereals in the human diet, primitive bread is a mixture of ground cereals, water and air. The recipe was modified, adapted and developed according to the cereals available in the different areas inhabited by man. Today, there are hundreds of varieties of bread around the world.
The primary function of bread is food. Its second function is often associated with religious or social rituals. Its last function is nowadays an economic index which allows, among other things, to evaluate the evolution of the cost of living.
It is a bread that contains baker's yeast, or sourdough (which is distinguished by its acidic taste), an ingredient that allows the flour to ferment and the dough to rise. The leavened dough has a soft texture and its honeycombing marks the crumb. Among the best known leavened breads are baguette, ficelle, miche, fougasse (France), ciabatta, panino (Italy), pan de cruz (Spain), koulouri (Greece), simit (Turkey), sourdough (USA).
It is made from rye flour, which gives it the name of black bread, and is fermented with leaven. It is frequently found in Northern Europe, where rye cultivation spread rapidly due to its good adaptation to climatic conditions and poor soil. For a long time it was called the "bread of the poor" as opposed to "white" bread, which was reserved for the rich. Rye bread is also known as Bauernbrot (Germany), rugbrød (Denmark), rukkileib (Estonia), borodinski (Russia) and rúgbrauð (Iceland).
Bread poached in water
The best known example of this type of bread is the pretzel. Made of water, flour, salt and baker's yeast, it is first poached in water with baking soda and then sprinkled with coarse salt before being baked. The main consumption of pretzels is in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Alsace.
To ensure better preservation, dry bread is baked twice. This thin, flat bread, without yeast, baked on stones over the fire, then on plates in a large oven is very common in northern Europe. Sigdal Norwegian crispbreads are the direct heirs of this ancient tradition. This range of dry breads includes Knekkebrød (Norway), baskotin (Croatia), biscotte (France) and Zwieback (Germany).
Soft bread is made from flour, fat and sugar. It is a bread baked in a mould which does not really have a crust and which is known for the softness of its crumb. It is a must in English-speaking countries and is used to prepare sandwiches, toasts, canapés, etc.
Soft, white and made with wheat flour, this bread roll is steamed. There are tingmo (Tibet), mantou, bao (China), kluski na parze (Poland).
As the name suggests, this bread is not baked but fried in oil or butter. Often made from wheat flour, it can be filled or eaten plain. This category includes lángos (Hungary), boorcog (Mongolia), kura (Tibet) and naan (India).
Made on the occasion of religious or folkloric festivals, ritual breads often resemble buns because they are enriched with butter, sugar or eggs.
This category includes panettone (Italy), kozounak (Bulgaria), kouglof (Alsace), gingerbread ....