Classic Dishes Around the World: Why Bread is Beloved by All
3 variations show our shared love for fresh bread
Classic Dishes Around the World is our brand new collaboration with Zwilling. Over the course of a year, we will explore the relationship between global food cultures in 6 dishes to highlight the foods and flavors that bring us together and make our Culinary World more exciting. The dialogue between food cultures worldwide is a source of great inspiration—our goal is to showcase similarities and encourage our ever-more connected world to keep sharing, learning, and adapting the global food landscape.
There’s nothing like the aroma of freshly baked bread. It might sound cliche, but it’s true—and you and I both know it. Warm and inviting, the scent can get its familiar character from a rich crust, hints of toasting seeds, fresh or dried herbs, luxurious olive oil or butter, or perhaps even something stronger like shards of garlic, thick cinnamon fillings, or mashed banana.
Whether it’s sweet or savory, leavened or unleavened, delicately shaped or prepared as a simple loaf, bread is a cornerstone for many food cultures around the world. Specific breads might have their place on the daily breakfast table, while others are reserved for more festive times of the year.
As you can see, bread around the world can take on a myriad of shapes, sizes, and flavors that makes each variety special and serves to showcase the various cultural and even geographical traits a country might have. For a deeper understanding of the different techniques and ingredients used in bread baking across the globe, we’ll dive into three versions that you might not have heard of yet, but will be happy to get to know–and bake for yourself!
Simit (Turkish sesame bagels)
A round, sesame-studded bread known by many names (koulouri in Greece, Covrig in Romania, Bokegh in Armenia, and Gevrek in Serbia, Macedonia, and some areas of Turkey), simit have a long history in Turkey, especially in Istanbul—where they are said to have been baked in the city since around 1525. But what makes these ringed breads special isn’t just this long history ( as early as the 1630s there were as many as 70 speciality simit bakeries in Istanbul), it’s how they’re made.
The dough is a simple one, made from flour, water, oil, yeast, and salt. After proofing, the dough is punched down and split, before being rolled into long ropes. These soft and pliable ropes are then woven together and formed into a ring, then dipped into a molasses-sweetened water bath before being covered in sesame seeds, proofed once more, and baked. The crust is crisp while the interior remains soft.
Although these “Turkish bagels” as they’re most commonly known in the US, are typically covered with sesame seeds, some choose to use poppy seeds, flaxseeds, or sunflower seeds instead—variations we can also highly recommend, especially based on our experience with the third bread we’ll cover, Germany’s Brötchenkranz. Serve with a soft cheese for breakfast, or super savory, garlicky dip for a snack any time of day.
Fougasse (Provençal flatbread with fresh herbs)
A specialty from Provence, the southeastern region of France that borders Italy and the Mediteranean sea, fougasse is a beautifully sculpted bread, often shaped to resemble an ear of wheat. Similar to Italian focaccia, although usually crunchier, the Provençal bread—which typically includes additions like olives, garlic, cheese, or herbs—is the most well-known of the French fougasse, but there are many sweet and savory regional variations.
Fougasse is said to have been the bread baked to test the temperature of a wood fired oven before other, perhaps more precious breads, would be baked. Now however, I think it’s safe to say it’s a precious bread in it’s own right, whether left plain and simple or flavored up with aromatic additions. Serve the fougasse alongside any lunch or dinner, cutting it into small pieces or tearing it apart with your hands at the table.
Brötchenkranz (Seeded German pull-apart bread)
Little buns brushed with butter and pressed into various seeds, this German pull-apart bread is most often found on the everyday breakfast table. The simple bread dough combines fresh yeast, warm water, milk, sugar, flour, salt, and a bit of olive oil. Once the bun dough has rested and risen to about double its size, it’s divided out equally (a scale makes this easy and foolproof), tucked into a heavy bottomed pot with a lid (a Staub pot like this one is our choice here for both quality and beauty) before being brushed with butter and topped with seeds. We chose a traditional mix: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds.
Best eaten hot out of the oven, top these dense buns with a smear of softened butter or your favorite Brotaufstrich (German for bread spread). Brötchenkranz is a fun, pull-apart wreath that can serve you as well at a barbecue as it does at breakfast.
As you can see, bread shapes, sizes, flavors, and textures are numerous, but whatever its form, it’s ubiquitous. Rolled into spirals, covered in seeds, fragrant with fresh herbs—there’s just about no bread we wouldn’t want to get to know better.
What’s your favorite type of bread to eat? What about to make? Let us know in the comments below!
Published on June 13, 2020