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Bread Glossary: A Glossary Of The Different Bread Types

Page 2: Bread Glossary A To B

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Artisan breadsticks replace chips as an elegant snack with beer. Photo by Michael Steele | THE NIBBLE.
A flatbread popular in Colombia and Venezuela, it is a thicker version of a tortilla. Arepas are made of maize flour"ā€¯essentially, a cornmeal patty. They are split in half and filled with cheese, deli meats, chicken salad and/or other fillings. An arepa may be eaten closed like a sandwich or dressed with toppings and eaten open-faced. Although similar to a sandwich in its presentation, it can also be eaten as a side dish, in lieu of bread. See flatbread.


  Oster Arepa Maker
It’s easy to make arepas with an electric arepa maker. Photo courtesy Oster.
A bagel is a round circle of yeast dough the size of a large roll, which is first boiled and then baked. It originated among the Jewish population of Central Europe. A traditional bagel is dense and chewy, although versions have evolved that are not much more than bread in a circle. The original bagels were made of wheat flour; early versions were plain or topped with poppy seeds. Today, dozens of varieties can be found, including pumpernickel, seven-grain and whole-wheat, and regular wheat bagels are made in dozens of flavors, from blueberry to spinach. Bagels have evolved from a breakfast bread to serve as a sandwich bread as well.


  Whole Wheat Bagel
Read our review of Bake ’mmm Bagels, the best frozen bagels we’ve come across. They’re organic and kosher, too. Shown above, Bake ‘mmm’s whole wheat bagels.
A long, narrow loaf with a very crusty, amber-colored outside and a delicate, tender inside. In France and elsewhere, it is used as a multipurpose bread, including for sandwiches; slices are used as the base for canapés. The name means “a small rod” in French. The baguette is three or four inches in diameter and can be up to a yard long, although it is most likely about two feet in length. It is not the most slender of the French loaves; see ficelle. Sandwich-sized baguettes are called demi-baguettes. While it is closely identified with France, the prototype was developed in Vienna in the mid-19th century, when the first steam ovens made possible the crisp crust and the porous (with holes) white crumb. See a comparison photo of baguettes, bâtards, ficelles and bâtons.


Baguettes. Photo by Aniko Gaspar | SXC.
Bánh mì is a Vietnamese baguette made with wheat and rice flour; the term also refers to a sandwich traditionally made with the baguette. Bánh mì can be vegetable sandwiches—pickled carrots, daikon, onions, e.g.—or include tofu or meat. Here’s the recipe.


Bara brith is a Welsh bread with dried fruits, similar to Irish soda bread. It is typically served buttered witha cup of tea.


  Banh Mi
Bánh-mi, a Vietnamese submarine sandwich on a baguette. Photo © Ppy2010ha | Dreamstime.
A long, wide, crusty French loaf—similar in crust and crumb, but wider than a baguette—that can be sliced for sandwiches. It can be made with wheat, rye or other grains. See a photo.


A bâton is similar to a baguette in crust and crumb, but shorter and narrower.


A batter bread is one that requires no kneading. An example is yeast bread: After the batter is mixed, it is allowed to rise, and then is baked.


A bread with beer in the batter. There are many recipes for beer-batter breads; different types of beer can be used to provide lighter or heartier flavors. See photo at right.


  Guinness Bread
Bread made with Guinness beer. This bread was made from a mix—BYOB. Read our review. Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.
The bialy was developed in Bialystok, Poland; the name is short for bialystoker kuchen (Bialystok cake). It is a large, flat, chewy yeast roll, up to six inches in diameter. Although it is likened to a bagel, they are distant cousins. A bagel is boiled before baking; a bialy is just baked. A bagel has a hole in the middle; a bialy has a depression that is typically filled with chopped onions and poppy seeds prior to baking. A bagel is generally sliced and spread and can be made into a sandwich; a bialy, which is flat, is most often eaten as is or spread with butter. Bagels have evolved into dozens of flavors; the bialy is still the bialy.


A bialy from Kenny and Zuke’s Delicatessen in Portland, Oregon.
In the U.S., a biscuit is
a small, individually-portioned bread made with baking powder or baking soda as a leavening agent rather than yeast. There are numerous varieties: Beaten biscuits, buttermilk biscuits and cheese biscuits are popular recipes. Biscuits are very soft and without a traditional crust; in this way they are similar to scones, which are generally harder and drier. There are savory and sweet biscuits; sweet biscuits can be served with butter and jam; or split and served with berries and whipped cream as a shortcake. In the U.S., “tea biscuits” are cookies; in the U.K., biscuit is the term for cookie.

See pumpernickel.


A round, crusty French loaf, similar to a peasant bread (photo at right). Boule is the French word for ball or round. In the U.K., this shape is known as a cob.



A boule. Photo courtesy

Bolillo is a Mexican roll inspired by the baguette, but wider, ovoid and six inches long. It is often baked in a stone oven. It is the roll used for tortas and molletes (Mexican sandwiches). The telera is a similar but softer roll, with a more rounded shape. Modern variations of include bolillos made of alternate ingredients such as whole wheat, wheat germ or flax.



A bolillo. Photo courtesy

A staple food in many of the world’s cultures, bread is made from flour or meal mixed with other dry ingredients and a liquid, usually water (but beer and other liquids are used in specialty recipes). There is usually a leavening agent to make the bread rise. A typical bread is kneaded, shaped into loaves and baked. The word bread, which comes to us from Old English, is related to the term in other Germanic languages, including brood (Dutch), Brot (German), bröd (Swedish) and brød (Danish and Norwegian). The Latin term is crustum. See also loaf.


A festive method of serving individual portions of food that also pair well with the bread (chili, stew) or starters such as dips and spreads, in a scooped-out round loaf of bread. Bread bowls can be made from any type of bread, although rye, sourdough and wheat are common; rolls including ciabatta rolls are used for individual portions.


Olive oil or other culinary oil which has been seasoned with spices and herbs. Other ingredients, such as grated cheese, can also be added. While “bread dippers” have become a popular casual hors d’oeuvre and a growing commercial enterprise, they are simple to make: Just add your favorite spices and herbs to olive oil. See photo below.


  Bread Bowl
Use a bread bowl for soup, stew, chili, or to serve dips with crudités, crackers or…slices of bread! Bowl filled with crab dip available at
Enriched white flour with a higher gluten content. All-purpose flour has a medium amount of gluten that is suitable for most purposes but not for bread machines.


A knife with a serrated edge, which easily cuts through both the hard crust and the soft crumb, without condensing it.


  Bread Dipping Oil
Bread dipping oil, also called a bread dipper. Photo of bread dipping oil courtesy of McCormick. This recipe and others available at
Also known as breading, these small pieces of dry bread are used for breading, poultry stuffing, topping casseroles, ingredients (e.g. meat loaf, stuffed fish), etc. Bread crumbs can be purchased commercially, plain or seasoned; or can be homemade from bread that is several days old (or has been dried in the oven). Italian-style breadcrumbs are generally larger. Panko, or Japanese breadcrumbs, are made from bread without crusts, and are crisper, lighter and more elegant in texture.

A dry coating, often seasoned flour, in which foods are dredged prior to frying. They may first be dipped in a beaten egg mixture to enable the breading to adhere.


Originally a way to use stale bread, cubes or slices of bread are drenched (similar to French toast) with a mixture of milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and spices. It can be baked plain, or with any combination of fruits and/or nuts. The dish can be served hot or cold, with or without whipped cream or a sauce, such as hard sauce or custard sauce.


  Bread Pudding
An apple raisin bread pudding. Photo courtesy of McCormick. This recipe and others are available at
Very similar to bread pudding (see above), except that the bread slices are buttered and placed in the baking dish; then the liquid mixture is added.


The bread stick originated in Italy. Bread strips were baked so they became very dry and crisp and could be stored for longer periods. Though it may have originated as a digestif or a snack, today it is often served as part of an antipasto. The archetypical bread sticks, grissini, are plain, slender and long, although there are numerous other shapes, lengths and flavors of bread sticks to be found, including thick, knobby bread sticks the length of bakers’ arms (think of a French ficelle, but a dry bread stick, not a soft bread). Also see photo at top of page.


  Bread Sticks
Bread sticks. Photo by Michael Steele | THE NIBBLE.
Bread salad, like French toast and croutons, is one of those delicious recipes invented by necessity: Poor people needed to get another meal from leftover bread that had gone stale. The dish is a popular first course in Italy. Panzanella is a Tuscan-style bread salad made with a loaf of day-old (or older) Italian bread, cubed into large croutons and soaked in vinaigrette to soften it. Chopped salad vegetables are added. The translation we have found for “panzanella” is “bread in a swamp,” the swamp being the water or vinaigrette in which it was soaked. While today’s recipes are rich in ingredients, the original preparers foraged to pull together vegetables from the garden—cucumber, onion and tomato—and possibly purslane, a salad green that grows wild. Early recipes were heavy on the onions, the cheapest ingredient to pair with the bread. When there wasn’t enough oil to spare, the bread was moistened in water. Here’s a recipe.


See stuffing.


Panzanella, Tuscan bread salad. Photo by Jerry Keith | Wikimedia.
A breakfast bread is a bread traditionally reserved for the morning meal. It can be sweet or savory; a savory bread, such as a croissant, is typically served with a sweet embellishment such as preserves. Other examples include almond croissants, pain au chocolat and other Viennoiserie, danish, diplomats and financiers. The difference between a pastry and a “breakfast pastry” is that the latter contains far less sugar and less rich embellishments.


  Almond Croissants
Almond croissants from
A light, slightly sweet loaf or roll made with eggs, yeast and butter, and glazed with an egg wash. Richer than a standard loaf, brioche is used as a breakfast bread, for French toast and in combination with luxury ingredients such as foie gras and smoked salmon. The rolls baked in fluted tins with a small ball of dough crowning the top are called brioche à tête (see photo at left). A standard brioche loaf is called brioche Nanterre. The word comes from Old French, broyer, to knead. The expression, “If they have no bread, let them eat cake,” commonly misattributed to Queen Marie-Antoinette,* is a translation of the phrase, “S’ils n’ont plus de pain, qu’ils mangent de la brioche.” The quotation was attributed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau to “a great princess,” possibly Maria Theresa of Spain.

Brioche is also made shaped like gingerbread men and topped with sugar. Almond brioche is sliced from a loaf of brioche, cooked so it looks like French toast, and topped with frangipane (crème pâtissière flavored with ground almonds), sliced almonds and powdered sugar. Orange brioche is filled with orange cream, topped with sugar.



A brioche roll. Photo by Elena Moiseeva | IST.
A small bun with a variety of meanings, from a sweet roll to a pastry (hot cross bun, raisin bun) to a specialty bread for hamburgers and hot dogs.


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Go To The Glossary Index Above


  Hamburger Buns
Hamburger buns. Photo by J. Eltovski | Morguefile.
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Last Updated  Apr 2018

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