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Bread Glossary: A Glossary Of The Different Bread Types

Page 9: Bread Glossary T To Z

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Fusion food: barbecue chicken in a tortilla. Read our review of Tumaro’s Tortillas, and see how they can be used to make dessert tortillas.
Toast typically refers to toasted bread sliced from a loaf. It is a popular breakfast bread, served with butter and jam. Many people also prefer their sandwich bread toasted; the firmer, toasted bread is a requirement for the stability of triple-decker sandwiches.

A thin, unleavened flatbread, dating to prehistoric times. Originally made from finely ground maize (corn), it is made from wheat flour in regions of Mexico unsuitable for growing corn.
Called “tlaxcalli” by the native Nahuatl-speaking peoples (including the Aztecs), the bread was named “tortilla” by the Spanish Conquistadors because it resembled Spanish round unleavened cakes.


Tortillas. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.
A sweet, egg-enriched bread formed of braided strands of dough, that is popular in the countries of the former Ottoman Empire. Tsoureki is the Greek name; it has different names in Arabic, Bulgarian, Romanian, Turkish and other languages. The recipe includes milk, flour, eggs, sugar, yeast, butter and a spice such as cardamom or mastic. The bread is soft and moist, yet chewy. Braided yeast breads are made for Christmas, Easter and New Year’s; the Easter version often includes colored eggs.


An oblong loaf that is tapered at the ends.


Tsoureki, Photo courtesy Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day.
Viennoiserie are buttery, flaky breakfast breads and pastries made with laminated dough, a technique of layering and folding a yeast dough to create brioche, croissants, danish, pain au chocolate and other so-called “Viennoiserie.” It is a marriage between traditional bread baking and sweet pastry baking. The technique of lamination produces many buttery layers that can be pulled apart to reveal thin leaves within. You can see the striations, or layers, of pastry when you look at the top of the Viennoiserie or when you cut into them. This technique is time-consuming and expensive (because of the amount of butter needed). According to legend (subsequently disproved), the croissant was created to commemorate the defeat of the Turks in Vienna; hence, the group of specialty breads became known as Viennoiserie. See croissant for the accurate history.


You can see the difference in the fluffy, flaky, buttery dough of the Viennoiserie (croissants at top, pain au chocolat in the center and the kouing aman at the far right top) and the non-Viennoiserie flat scone at the bottom right. Photo © copyright Les Madeleines.
Often made with whole-wheat flour, walnut bread (pain aux noix) is popularly served with a cheese course. Hazelnuts can be substituted.


White bread is a modern invention made from refined, bleached wheat flour, designed to create a convenience product. Unfortunately, the bleaching, along with the removal of the bran and germ in the refining of white flour, remove most of the nutrients and fiber. In the U.S., white flour must be enriched with folic acid, iron, niacin, riboflavin and thiamin, to compensate for the loss of these nutrients during the milling process. Effective January 1997, the addition of folic acid replaces most of the major vitamins removed by bleaching (“enriched flour”), although valuable trace minerals are not replaced in this process. Nutritionists advise substituting whole-grain breads for white.


Whole-wheat bread is made from whole-wheat flour. Unlike white flour, whole wheat has not been refined; the bran and germ of the wheat grain, which contain most of the nutrition and fiber, have been retained prior to milling. Bread made from whole-wheat flour is light brown in color. Until recent times, when the superior nutrition of this bread has been acknowledged, brown bread, which is cheaper to make than refined white bread, was considered aesthetically inferior, and relegated to the poorer classes that could not afford white bread.


  Whole Wheat Bread
Whole wheat bread. Photo by Tommy Johansen | SXC.
A whole grain loaf can be made in any size and shape from one or more whole grains. Whole grains that are baked into bread include corn, flaxseed, hemp, oats, rye, spelt (farro) and whole wheat. For more information, including a full list of whole grains, read our article about whole grain cereals.

Note that loaves described as “multigrain,” “7 grain,” etc. are not whole grain, unless they so specify. Otherwise, they most likely contain a variety of refined grains that are not whole grains.

  Whole Grain Bread Grilled Cheese
Grilled cheese sandwich bites on whole grain bread. Photo courtesy Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook.
A flatbread, generally a tortilla, used to make a sandwich instead of a roll or two slices of bread. The sandwich is called a wrap or a roll-up because the filling is “rolled up” in the tortilla.


Artisan bread makers use wild yeasts instead of commercially-produced yeasts, and wild yeast is required to make authentic sourdough.

There are many varieties of wild yeast, each with its own flavor characteristics. Several different kinds can be found in a single starter. See yeast, below.

The history of the use of wild yeast may predate the alphabet. Hieroglyphics that are 5,000 years old show Egyptians using yeast to leaven bread and ferment alcohol. Since they had no understanding of, or control over, the microorganisms, the process was a mystery.

Food scientists believe that these early yeast-based reactions were created by the natural microbial contaminants of flour and other milled grains, and from fruit or other juices containing sugar. Their microbial flora would have included wild yeasts and the lactic acid bacteria that are found associated with cultivated grains and fruits. With bread, a small portion of starter dough was retained and used to start (leaven) each new bread dough (source).


BLT wrap (photo courtesy National Pork Board).
Yeast is a natural leavening agent; the first leavened breads were made by setting out the dough to be attacked by wild yeast. The ancient Egyptians were already using wild yeast strains to raise their bread.

Over millennia, yeast starters were maintained. It was not until the invention of the microscope, followed by the pioneering work of Louis Pasteur in the late 1860s, that yeast was identified as a living organism and the agent responsible for alcoholic fermentation and dough leavening.

Shortly following these discoveries, it became possible to isolate yeast strains in a pure culture form. Commercial production of baker’s yeast began around the turn of the 20th century.

Since then, it has been discovered that different strains of yeast are better in different situations. The commercial yeast used for leavening bread today is Saccharomyces cerevisiae (also used for brewing beer, whiskey and other alcoholic beverages). Commercial yeast is made from a pure culture to produce uniform results.
In 1876, brothers Charles and Max Fleischmann of Cincinnatti (née Austria) introduced their new commercial yeast to the public, revolutionizing the bread baking business. It was a compressed cake of yeast requiring refrigeration. But it didn’t stop there:

  • When America entered World War II, Fleischmann developed Active Dry Yeast, specifically to ensure GIs could enjoy home-baked bread. It did not require refrigeration and was activated quickly with warm water.

Below:Originally, commercial yeast was sold in cubes, needed to be refrigerated, and was much more cumbersome to work with than modern dried yeast (photo courtesy Pantryparatus).

  • In 1984, Fleischmann’s did launched RapidRise Yeast. This highly active, finer grain of dry yeast raises dough as much as 50% faster than regular active dry yeast.
  • In 1993, Fleischmann’s introduced bread machine yeast, specially formulated to produce excellent-tasting loaves in any kind of bread machine. Who said yeast wasn’t an exciting product?

Yeast ferments the carbohydrates in the flour (or the grain in the alcohol) producing carbon dioxide. Many artisan bakers produce their own yeast by keeping a starter culture, which can last for years—following in the footsteps of bakers thousands of years ago [source]. See also wild yeast.


Top: Fleischmann’s instant yeast is granulated and easy to work with (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).

A bread that is leavened by the fermentation of sugar by yeast. Many breads are yeast breads, from some white and whole wheat breads to challah to sourdough.

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Last Updated  Apr 2018

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