There are numerous types of bread, many specific to a certain region and cuisine. Here are some of the most common types worldwide:
Bagels are a ring-shaped bread commonly eaten for breakfast plain, toasted, with cream cheese or as a sandwich. This type of bread originated in Jewish communities in Poland back in 1610, but a similar bread called an obwarzanek has been traced back to 1394, according to Smithsonian. There are many different varieties of bagels -- they can be plain, made from various yeasts, topped with seeds or infused with berries or chocolate chips. When it comes to bagels, the possibilities are endless.
A baguette is a long, thin loaf of bread that is strongly associated with France. Baguette translates roughly to "wand" or "baton," and some historians believe that the bread emerged right after World War I. Back then, a classic French loaf was round, with a flavorful crust and a thick and heavy interior. The New York Times reported that as more and more customers began preferring the crust to the interior, the bread was stretched into the oblong shape it is today. This bread can be used as part of any meal and is delicious even when simply served with a butter spread.
This sweet bread is made from mashed bananas and is incredibly moist, almost like a cake. The recipe became popular in the 1930s as a result of the mass production of baking powder and baking soda, both of which are key ingredients. The Great Depression also played a role in banana bread exploding into the mainstream -- people would use their old bananas to make this bread to avoid wasting food. There are many different variations of the recipe, and the bread can contain chocolate chips, nuts, raisins or can even be made into muffins.
Bread sticks are long, thin sticks of bread commonly served on the side of Italian dishes or as appetizers. According to a Turin, Italy, tradition, they were invented in the town by a baker in the 1670s. They're commonly served warm and topped with garlic or cheese, but can also be a served as a dessert covered in cinnamon sugar.
The rich and tender brioche is light, fluffy and crumbly because of its high content of butter and eggs. This bread is centuries old and so rich that it's delicious served plain with butter, but it is even better when made into desserts including bread pudding or pain au chocolat. It's also sometimes used as a base for delicate and buttery foie gras.
This dense bread is a staple of Irish culture. Brown bread is made of whole wheat, wheat germ, and brown sugar, and can be eaten as part of a traditional Irish breakfast covered with butter and jam. Traditionally, brown bread was favored by the lower class because of its low price.
Challah is a special braided bread, typically eaten on the Sabbath and other major Jewish holidays. The braids are meant to resemble intertwined arms symbolizing love. Traditionally, a small portion of the challah dough is removed during preparation and burned for a blessing ritual. This decorative bread is made from eggs and topped with poppy seeds and sesame seeds.
Ciabatta is white bread made from wheat flour, salt, yeast, and water. It's distinguishable due to its airy inside and crisp outside, which is similar to French baguettes. This bread is often served alongside olive oil and its fluffy interior soaks the oil right up. It's a relatively new type of bread -- it was created in 1982 and didn't take off in commercial markets until the 1990s.
Unlike most types of bread, cornbread is not made from yeast. Instead, it is heavy with cornmeal and relies on baking powder to leaven or ferment and rise. The recipe originated with the Native Americans and was adopted by English settlers. Today, cornbread is a popular side in the southern U.S.
Naan is a leavened, baked flatbread native to South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. It's a staple of Indian cuisine and served in a variety of flavors with various curries, spices and fillings, but is commonly served hot and brushed with butter.
Pita bread has been traced back to Mesopotamia around 25000 B.C., and is now traditionally associated with Greek and Middle Eastern foods. Pita is a slightly leavened flatbread and has a pocket that is stuffed so the bread becomes a sandwich or a wrap. It's commonly served with gyros, falafel or kebabs. This type of bread is also commonly paired with hummus or, in Greece, tzatziki sauce.
Soft pretzels are a type of baked bread traditionally twisted into a knot-like shape and sprinkled with salt. This type of bread has been around for centuries and, along with the classic twisted shape, has variations including pretzel buns, pretzel nuggets, and pretzel dogs. The classic pretzel has many ways it can be served, with various toppings and seasonings, dipping sauces and can even be used for sandwiches.
Pumpernickel is a heavy, dark and sweet type of rye bread that originated in present-day Germany. There are many stories of how this bread got its name, with one folklore tale attributing it to a French man who declared the coarse bread was fit only for his horse, Nicol -- "C'est du pain pour Nicol." Though amusing, the story is just a tall tale, but the real way the bread got its name is equally silly.
"Pumpernickel" had a few other meanings in the German language, including "devil's fart." The bread began being known as pumpernickel after it was served to German soldiers during the Thirty Years War and they would suffer indigestion from this "peasant bread."
Rye bread was popular throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. It can be made into many different variations, including flat rye breads, multigrain bread with caraway seeds mixed in, or German pumpernickel, and it can be served many different ways in all meals. The breads range in taste, texture and even color, depending on other ingredients added to the recipe. To be classified as rye bread, the dough must be made at least partially with rye flour. Rye is also more filling than wheat bread and reduces inflammation in people with metabolic syndrome, according to the Oldways Whole Grains Council.
Sourdough bread is an ancient type of bread -- it is even older than metal. The oldest loaf of sourdough found was in Switzerland and dates back to around 3500 B.C., but it's thought that the Ancient Egyptians also practiced making this bread. Sourdough is made by slowly fermenting the dough naturally with bacteria and yeast, and has a mild sour taste.
Tortillas are thin, unleavened flatbread traditionally made from finely ground corn, though today it can be made from flour or whole wheat as well. It's thought that tortillas were created in 10,000 B.C. by the Ancient Aztecs and Mayans in the mountains of Mexico. It's a staple of Mexican cuisine and vital to many dishes including burritos, tamales, quesadillas, and tacos.
Commonly referred to simply as "sandwich bread," white bread is most often found as loaves lining the aisles of your local supermarket. It's a light bread made with wheat flour from which the bran and germ layers have been removed. Since its origins in the 1950s, the sliced bread took off in the U.S. with each person eating an average of a pound and a half of it each week by the 1960s. It is only in recent years that the popularity of white bread has begun to falter to other options, namely wheat bread.
Whole wheat bread is a type of brown bread made from flour that is milled partially or entirely from whole wheat grains. Traditionally, the wealthy ate white bread while the poor ate brown bread, but this ideal was reversed in the 20th century when whole grain bread was discovered to have a greater nutritional value, including being a good source of fiber, iron, and magnesium.