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Several kinds of bread and grain

Bread is a staple food eaten by many cultures throughout history.


Bread is made by grinding cereals (wheat, rye or barley) into a flour and adding water to make a dough. The dough is kneaded (mixed using the flat of the hands) to trap air in the mixture and then formed into a loaf. The loaf is then baked in a hot oven until the bread is cooked.

Bread was originally unleavened until the Egyptians discovered adding yeast (a by-product of beer production), would cause the bread to rise in the manner of most modern loaves. Most modern breads now use yeast as a leavening agent although unleavened bread is still produced (some Jewish breads and "flatbreads" such as chapatis).

Types of bread

  • French baguette - a long loaf with a hard crust.
  • Bread roll - A small loaf of bread commonly served with a soup or as a sandwich. There are many regional words for a bread roll. Common ones include a "cob", "oven bottom", "barm", "bampot", "bap", "tea-cake" in West Yorkshire or "stottie" in Tyneside.
  • Granary or wholemeal bread - these contain more of the grain than white bread and are a good source of fiber.
  • Naan bread - A flat Indian bread often served with a curry.
  • Grissini (or breadsticks) - cigar-sized snack breads often served with Italian dishes.


Toasted bread is part of the first meal of the day for millions of people, particularly with butter, lard, marmalade or jam. Although toast was originally produced by grilling bread, the toaster was invented to speed up the process and is now a popular addition to the kitchen. A popular use of toast is getting two pieces, putting a piece of cheese between them, and eating it, otherwise known as a Grilled cheese.


Bread must be stored in order to delay its spoiling, which normally occurs by either going stale or growing mold. There are two common methods of storing bread:

  • Bagging: Bread normally comes in plastic bags, unless purchased fresh from a bakery. This plastic bag prevents loss of moisture from the bread, delaying it from becoming stale. The bag also prevents the deposition of mold spores, by means of acting as a barrier. Typically, bread bags are held closed by a specialized clip mechanism known as a bread clip.
  • Boxing: Bread is also stored in bread boxes, a specialized container made of metal, ceramics, plastic or even glass. Bread boxes have the same advantages that bags do, with the added advantage of protecting the bread from both crushing and vermin. Bread boxes are extremely popular in America and Britain, and inspired the phrase "bigger than a breadbox."

See also

Further reading

  • Davidson, Alan, et al., eds. The Oxford Companion to Food (2nd Ed 2006), 907 pages with 2,650 entries covering the world's foods, seasoning, cuisine, cooking methods, chefs, historical developments, and myths. excerpt and text search
  • Kaplan, Steven. Good Bread Is Back: A Contemporary History of French Bread, the Way It Is Made, and the People Who Make It (2006) excerpt and text search