Bread Types and Shapes

Terminology and definitions for bread types, bread ingredients, bread making and baking.

© 2011 by KV5R — Rev. April 15, 2011.

With handy book links!

Bagel

A yeast bread hand-formed into a ring shape, boiled and then baked, having a browned and sometimes crisp crust and and dense, chewy crumb.

Baguette, Batard, Baton, Boule, Ficelle (shapes)

A Baguette is long, tubular French bread that is made from basic dough, typically measuring about 2 by 24 inches, having a crisp crust and a chewy crumb. A Batard is shorter and thicker, similar to a football shape. A Baton is a smaller baguette. A Boule (Fr.: ball) is round and somewhat dome-shaped. A Ficelle (Fr.: string) is a very thin baguette.

Batter Bread

Similar to Quick Bread, but leavened with active dry yeast instead of baking soda or powder. It is not kneaded but vigorously beaten for several minutes, then risen, stirred down, molded, then risen again and baked. The thick but pourable batter produces a coarser crumb than a kneaded bread, and generally tastes better than soda-leavened breads. Batter breads are frequently flavored with beer, cheese, honey, or fruit. See also No-knead Bread.

Biscuit

In the US, biscuits are small, irregular, fluffy soda rolls, sometimes layered, usually split and buttered, sometimes spread with honey or jelly/jam/preserves, usually served with the traditional (“heart attack”) bacon-and-eggs breakfast. Biscuit dough is available packaged in tubes, which tend to explode if allowed to rise to room temperature; they do not compare with homemade biscuits. The “Texas Biscuit” is a very large, floury roll that is often split and covered in black-peppered white gravy, alongside a slab of pan-fried ham and eggs. In Britain, biscuits are smaller, harder, and usually molded—a sort of bread cookie or thick snack cracker. A “Dog Biscuit” is a hard and crunchy biscuit designed as dog treats.

Brioche

A highly enriched French bread, whose high egg and butter content give it a rich and tender crumb. It has a dark, golden, and flaky crust from an egg wash applied after proofing. Often baked in small or large fluted pans but can be used to enclose other foods such as sausage or cheese.

Brown and Serve

A method used in preparing breads where the dough is shaped, risen and baked at a low temperature until it is cooked all the way through. It is then cooled, wrapped and refrigerated until close to serving time. Then it is browned in a toaster oven or under a broiler just before serving. Brown-n-serve rolls are commonly available at US grocers.

Challah

A traditional Jewish white flour and egg bread served for the Sabbath and Holy Days. It is braided (3 or 6 strands), glazed with egg wash, and sometimes sprinkled with Poppy seeds or other seeds and spices. May be sweet or regular bread. Pronounced kHallah.

Croissant

A crescent-shaped, layered French roll. The yeast dough is layered with butter, rolled and folded several times in succession, then rolled into a sheet, then bent into a crescent shape. Pronounced KWA-soh.

Crumpet

A British yeasted biscuit made from a batter poured into a ring mold on a stove top and cooked until is brown on the bottom and riddled with small holes on the top, like a pancake. May be topped with butter and/or jellies and jams.

English Muffin

A small, round, flat yeasted bread, commonly served split horizontally, toasted, and buttered. Muffins are eaten either as a snack in their own right or as part of a meal, especially breakfast or, in the UK, with early-evening tea.

Fasnacht

A yeasted pastry that is deep-fried like a doughnut. Traditionally baked only for Fastnacht Day (Shrove Tuesday), the day before Lent starts, in central Europe. In the US, some Dutch communities also bake them for Shrove Tuesday, where they are known as Kinklings. They may be made of wheat or potato flour and dusted or filled with fruit or jam. Pronounced FAHS-nahkt.

Focaccia

An Italian flat bread that looks like a thick pizza. It is usually topped with olive oil, olives, and other Italian herbs. Pronounced fo-KAHT-cha.

French Bread

Traditional French bread is a crusty loaf of white bread with a chewy exterior. The bread is usually made from flour, salt, yeast and water. It is made in many different shapes, typically very elongated, the most common being the Baguette.

Hot Cross Bun

A sweet, yeast-leavened, spiced bun made with currants or raisins, often with candied citrus fruits, marked with a cross on the top. The cross can be made in a variety of ways including: of pastry; flour and water mixture; rice paper; icing; two intersecting cuts. They are traditionally eaten at Easter.

Italian Bread

A simple bread similar to French bread but typically shorter, plumper, and softer. It is typically made from flour, salt, water, olive oil, and yeast. Instead of steaming, the crust is brushed or sprayed with water before baking, making a softer and chewier crust. Often made with a yeast preferment (a sponge), white flour, olive oil, and formed into an oblong football shape (like the French Batard), flatbread, or other common shapes. Classic Italian breads are baked in wood-fired clay dome ovens and have a coarse, irregular crumb.

Italian (shape)

Any loaf that has an oval or oblong shape. Similar to the French Batard shape.

Loaf (commercial measure)

A “loaf” is 1½-pound bread, made with 3 cups (~375 g.) of flour, unless otherwise specified in the recipe.

Loaf (shape)

Any rectangular bread made in a loaf pan, designed for slicing into standard sandwitch-shaped slices.

Muffin (shape)

Small breads baked in a muffin pan, which has a number of cup-shaped depressions to hold individual portions of batter or dough. Similar to cupcakes but not as sweet; more bread-like. Muffins may be made with any type of dough or batter, with or without fillings or toppings. The distinction between muffin, biscuit, roll, and bun (shapes) is often blurred in common usage.

No-Knead Bread

A technique developed around 2006 by master bread baker Jim Lahey, no-knead has become a very popular trend in artisan breadmaking. It is simply mixed, risen for very long rise-times (12-18 hours), then baked. The object is to develop more complex, authentic flavors and rustic textures by lengthening the rise time. It also has the advantage of very little handling time. Ingredients are usually just AP flour, water, salt, and a bit of yeast. The dough is made very wet and slack, and yeast (commercial and/or sourdough starter) is added in very small quantity (¼ tsp is typical). After the long rise, it is very bubbly and delicate and must be handled carefully. It is typically risen in a proofing basket (Brotform or Banneton) and then simply dumped onto a hot (450-500°F) baking stone or into a stoneware Dutch oven or a LaCloche baker. The sticky dough must be heavily coated with flour or cornmeal so that it doesn’t stick to the proofing basket or the bakeware. It is usually baked covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered and browned for 10-15 minutes. For lots of no-knead recipes and videos, google “no-knead bread”.

Pancake (and Waffle)

A light, flat, soda-leavened batter bread, made with flour, water (or milk), sugar (or honey), salt, and baking powder. They are fried in a pan for a few minutes, then flipped. Pancake (and biscuit) mixes (typically Bisquick brand) have become staples in the American pantry, and often listed as a base ingredient in baking. A waffle is a pancake made in a waffle iron appliance, which creates square depressions, and cooks both sides at once. Both are usually served in stacks of 2 or 3, topped with butter and syrup.

Pita

Round Middle Eastern flat bread, leavened with yeast, is partially split horizontally and filled with various fillings.

Pizza

A round flatbread made with a crisp or chewy yeast dough, usually topped with tomato sauce, melted cheese, and a variety of meats, vegetables, and sometimes fruit. The crust may be thin and somewhat crisp, or thick and chewy. The popular “deep-dish pan pizza” has higher sides and is more thickly loaded with pizza-type toppings. Pronounced PEET-sa or PEE-za.

Pretzel

A yeasted dough that is typically rolled into a long rope and often knotted. They can be crisp or chewy, and are often coated with large-grain salt.

Pueblo Bread

A rustic bread that originated in Native American communities. Made with unbleached flour, cornmeal, salt, water, yeast, and lard or shortening (sometimes sugar or eggs) and baked in a wood-fired adobe oven.

Pumpernickel Bread

A heavy dark bread made with a high proportion of rye to wheat flour and frequently with molasses to add color and flavor.

Quick Bread

Any bread leavened with a baking powder/soda instead of yeast. This includes muffins, biscuits, popovers, pancakes, waffles, etc. When common types of quick breads are yeast-leavened, they are called batter breads.

Rye Bread

Any bread with rye flour added. It can be light or dark in color, and is denser than bread made from only wheat flour, and has a distinctive rye flavor.

Salt Rising Bread

A bread that was traditional before modern yeast; made with a fermented mixture of cornmeal, salt, sugar, flour and water. It is smooth textured and has a tangy flavor and aroma. The main rising agent is a bacterium Clostridium perfringens, which leavens the bread along with lactobacillus and other wild microbes, as opposed to yeast or baking soda.

Sour Bread

A bread that has an acid pH and a sour flavor caused by either natural bacterial production of lactic or acetic acid (sourdough), or through the addition of yogurt or vinegar. Sour bread is only “sourdough” bread when it has been leavened by a sourdough starter.

Sourdough Bread

A bread with a slightly sour flavor that has been leavened by a sourdough starter. It generally takes several hours to make sourdough bread. It usually has a slightly sour, tangy flavor, as if a little beer and vinegar were added. Before the invention of cultured yeasts, all yeast breads were sourdough. May be of any type and shape. See the Sourdough entries in the Leaveners section below.

Sweet Bread

Any bread that is sweetened by any sweetener. Not to be confused with “sweetbread,” which is the culinary term for various dishes containing animal glands.

Unleavened Bread

Bread or dough containing no yeast, bacterial, or chemical leavener. One common unleavened bread is the Jewish Matzo (or Matzah), a large flatbread cracker used during Passover, when all leavening is forbidden.

Yeast Bread

Any bread whose primary leavening action results from the fermentation of carbohydrates by yeast.

One thought on “Bread Types and Shapes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *