European bread includes breads of many different regional types and flavors. Bread has been a popular form of food for the Europeans since ancient times, and is prepared from grains like barley, rye, oats or wheat, of which wheat bread is most popular in modern times.
History of European Bread
As per European archeological evidence, as long as 30,000 years ago, starch residues were found on rocks that were used for pounding plants. A theory goes that starch from plant roots could be spread on flat rocks and heated over fire to make some kind of bread. In the period of 800-900 A.D., barley was commonly used for making bread and porridge in Iceland. Breads were made of grains like barley and rye in historical times, and many traditional recipes using these grains are still quite popular. However, modern day Europe is witnessing stronger consumer preference for wheat bread.
European Bread Recipes
The European bread recipe may have many regional variations, but the basic method of preparation involves preparation of yeasted dough with flour, water, salt, sugar and yeast, which is kneaded well and set aside to rise and then baked in an oven in the desired shape and size. Additional seasonings may be added to the dough as per fancier variants of the European bread recipe.
Types of European Breads
Following are some European bread types that have stood the test of time in terms of popularity-
- Russian and Finnish Breads: These breads are made of rye and have a rough texture. They have a stronger taste than wheat breads, and a longer shelf life.
- German Breads: German breads are famous for their range and variety. Germany produces more than 300-500 kinds of basic breads, and the total number of bread types that it prepares in its 16000 or so bakeries amounts to about 1000 numbers. It showcased about 1000 such breads in the 2005 Cologne Bread Show.
- Scandinavian and Nordic Breads: Traditional favorite grains for making breads in Scandinavian and Nordic regions have been barley, rye, wheat and oats. Barley and rye have the oldest history of use. In modern types, newer grain types like spelt and emmer are being used for preparing breads. A strong influence of German breads can be seen here.
- Danish Bread: Danish breads include the famous morgenbrød, which is made of wheat and available in different types of shapes and seasonings. The bread is made fresh in the morning, and is a traditional favorite. European bread made of wheat is more popular today as compared to that made with rye which was traditionally preferred. Danish breads are made with modern bread making equipment in a decentralized process.
- Swedish Bread: Swedish breads are made in large scale industrial bakeries, and are soft in texture and often sweet in taste, though traditionally they were prepared at home. Wheat bread and wholegrain bread are the most popular varieties here.
- British Bread: British breads include many traditional ones that are baked in rectangular tins, like the famous stottie cake.
- French Bread: French bread usually has large bubbles in it and a firm crust. It is usually used for toast or for making fillings for other dishes.
- Spanish Bread: This regional European bread is also called pan and is a long-loaf bread mostly baked fresh in the mornings.