Bread – Five Most Common Uncommon Types

PARANTHA

An unleavened Indian flatbread that hails from the ancient North Indian region of Punjab and was, initially, made for special guests. Spread with homemade butter, it was eaten by dipping into homemade yogurt or lassi, a buttermilk drink also from Punjab. Nowadays, this golden brown yet extremely supple bread is eaten hot with chutney and yoghurt as an accompaniment to curry or simply with pickles and vegetables. Another favourite, Htat ta ya, (a hundred layers), is a fried flaky paratha (resembling puff pastry) which is sometimes eaten with sugar or boiled peas . Kerala porota, an oval shaped paratha is left to prove for at least 4 hours to ensure maximum softness and will get you ‘hooked’ for ever. During Ramadan, Muslims from the Indian subcontinent often eat parathas for breakfast as they believe that the butter and flour mixture are not only a good source of calories but will also stave off hunger pangs and help sustain a person throughout the long day.

BRETZEL

A twisted rope of shiny, yeasty bread made from superlative white flour. There are two kinds, soft as well as crisp and both are delicious but I think that a soft, salt sprinkled bretzel with a thick slice of Limburger cannot be beaten. In Germany bretzl dough is dipped into a solution of sodium hydroxide in order to give it a shiny brown crust. The name comes from the word bracellus (latin for crossed arms). It is absolutely delicious!

PUMPERNICKEL

This classic bread is made from a variety of rye flour grades and is started with sourdough. I cannot imagine eating smoked eel or chopped herrings with anything else. True German pumpernickel is traditionally made with coarsely-ground rye meal, but nowadays a combination of rye flour and whole rye berries is used. It originated in Westphalia in 1450.  Westphalian pumpernickel is baked, covered with a lid and essentially steamed for a long baking period which  gives it its characteristic dark colour. The bread can emerge from the oven deep brown, even black. Traditionally it  contains no colouring agents, instead relying on the Maillard reaction to produce its characteristic dark chocolate flavour with it’s earthy coffee aftertaste. They are baked for 16 to 24 hours at a low temperature (120°C) in a steam-filled oven. Because they are baked in long narrow pans with a lid pumpernickel has little or no crust. True German pumpernickel is produced only in Germany

SODA BREAD

steaming hot and crisp crusted there is little to beat fresh soda bread, sharp cheddar and marmalade with an early morning cuppa for breakfast. It originated in 1840 in Ireland, when bicarbonate of soda was first introduced and added, along with salt and sugar to wheat flour and baked in the oven or on a griddle. Shaped immediately after kneading, rested for no more than 15 minutes, a cross cut in the middle and baked produces really outstanding results. Legend has it that the cross was placed in the bread to ward off evil, but I think it was merely put there for cutting purposes afterwards.

BAGELS

Derived from the French word bague (a ring) and the German word for a stirrup (Beugel) – with typically firm crusts and soft centers they are amongst the most beloved of uncommon bread. Fresh Scottish Salmon and cream cheese on bagels have to be an international favourite. They are made using an ancient technique whereby the yeast-raised dough is first boiled briefly. If it isn’t boiled, it isn’t a bagel – as simple as that. It is said that they originated in Warsaw when Jewish bakers made them in honour of the victory of King Jan Sobieski at the battle of Vienna in 1863, but like all stories there are many versions. Observant Jewish families traditionally made bagels on Saturday evenings at the conclusion of the Sabbath because bagels could be baked very quickly as soon as it ended.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Bread – Five Most Common Uncommon Types

  1. A nice selection of commonly uncommon breads; though here in Canada, bagels are quite commonly common, in fact, they are everywhere.🙂 I especially liked your description of the Indian Parantha bread as I am a huge fan of Indian cooking and I simply love mopping up some keema or dahl with some warm parantha or naan. Indeed, I frequent a quadrant of Toronto known as Little India at least once a month to get my Indian food fix and to wash it all down with some excellent Kashmiri chai from a small Paan shop I frequent.

  2. Hallo,

    I couldnt understand why you were here – this is the old site!!! Would love these comments on the new site! I can’t wait to get to Toronto – sounds like a city of dreams to me!

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