We’re suckers for a soft, warm roll fresh from the oven and slathered with butter…and also a crusty slice of sourdough topped with creamy ricotta. Or what about a piece of banana bread that borders on dessert? Or a square of salty focaccia? The point is, we love bread in all its forms. From simple yeasted loaves to gorgeous plaits of challah, here are 14 types of bread all home bakers should have in their repertoire. (C’mon, homemade is so much better than store-bought.)
1. Yeast Bread
When you think of bread, yeast bread is likely the first type that comes to mind. It’s actually more like a big group of breads than a single type—dinner rolls, sandwich loaves, brioche and anything that relies on yeast to rise could technically be included here. The yeast ferments (basically, it eats) some of the carbohydrates and sugars in the dough, producing carbon dioxide and giving the loaf its signature lift. Depending on the recipe, yeast bread can be chewy or cotton-candy soft—think soft pretzels versus classic white bread.
2. Quick Bread
If you’ve ever made a loaf of banana, zucchini, pumpkin or beer bread, then congrats! You’ve made quick bread. True to its name, quick bread comes together in almost no time; that’s because it relies on chemical leavening agents like baking soda and baking powder instead of yeast, and does all its rising as it bakes. The texture is soft with a moist, light crumb that’s more reminiscent of cake than bread (but we’re totally not complaining).
Cornbread is a type of quick bread made with cornmeal. It’s a staple in the Southern United States, where it’s frequently baked in a cast iron skillet, contains more cornmeal than flour and is almost never sweetened with sugar. (In the north, however, sugar is a common inclusion and the mix includes more wheat flour. Heated debates ensue.) Pair it with barbecue or use it to make your Thanksgiving dressing.
4. Sourdough Bread
You might think sourdough bread is just like any yeasted loaf, but this type of bread is surprisingly different. Sure, it’s *technically* still relying on some yeast to rise, but it gets the yeast from a pre-ferment, aka starter, of flour and water. Long story short, the starter contains wild yeast and microorganisms like lactic acid bacteria (which give it its sour taste and help it last longer without preservatives). It’s a bit of a time-consuming process to make, but we’ve never had a better piece of toast.
Brioche is another type of yeast bread, but it’s a little more special than your everyday sandwich slice. It’s an enriched bread, which means it contains added fats, sugar and dairy in addition to the basic flour, water, salt and yeast. This gives it rich flavor, extra color and a super buttery, tender crumb. Thanks to eggs, milk and a lot of butter, French brioche is so rich, it’s almost like cross between a bread and a pastry.
Challah is a type of enriched bread of Eastern European origin that’s often eaten during Jewish ceremonial occasions like Shabbat, and on major holidays like Rosh Hashanah. The dough is enhanced with oil and plenty of eggs, which give it its trademark golden hue and soft, almost spongy texture.
We don’t like to play favorites with carbs, but focaccia is one of our top types of bread to make at home, because it’s simple with impressive results. Although it’s flat, it’s still leavened with yeast, and the dough is baked with lots of olive oil for a satisfyingly crunchy, golden crust. And while countless flavor variations exist, they all have a dimpled surface that’s ideal for catching flakes of sea salt.
8. Soda Bread
Who needs yeast when you have baking soda? Not soda bread, that’s for sure. This quick bread gets its rise from the reaction between baking soda and buttermilk, which is an acid. (It’s kind of like a grade school science project volcano situation.) Other inclusions, like raisins, can be added. You might be most familiar with Irish soda bread, but it’s common in other cultures (like Poland and Scotland) too.
Flatbread is, well, flat. And while some flatbreads contain no leavening (like matzoh), others do (think pita or pizza dough). Nearly every culture has its own versions of flatbread, from naan to bing to frybread. It can be baked, fried, grilled, griddled, sliced, torn, eaten whole, stop us any time…
10. No-Knead Bread
Nope, you don’t have to work hard to make a bakery-worthy loaf of bread. No-knead bread is kind of like a cross between a yeast bread and sourdough: It relies on a small amount of yeast and a longer rising time to form the gluten necessary for its bready texture. Sit back, relax and let the dough do the work.
11. Pretzel Bread
What happens when you combine the texture of a roll with the shiny, chewy crust of a soft pretzel? You get pretzel bread. Essentially, this is just regular yeast bread that’s been given a wash of baking soda and egg (or, more traditionally, lye) for that deep brown exterior. But isn’t she beautiful?
12. Soft Rolls
We love miniature versions of foods, so naturally, we adore rolls. After all, they’re just tiny loaves of yeast bread. Soft rolls are pleasingly squishy and the ideal vehicle for butter or honey (or both).
Fun fact: Even though you might associate bagels with New York City, this roll with a hole actually originated in Jewish communities in Poland. There are about a billion and one varieties, but the key to a bagel’s chew is to boil the dough before baking it. (Whether you like it toasted or not is an entirely different conversation).
14. English Muffins
Wait, this is not a muffin…or is it? English muffins have no tops and no chocolate chips— they’re like a small sourdough flatbread—but they do have plenty of craggly bits and pockets to catch melted butter and jam. (And the word muffin is thought to come from the Low German muffen, which translates to “little cakes.”)