Around the world with bread
Made from flour, water and salt, bread is a simple, healthy and cheap food. Bread is a basic element of our diets, used to make sandwiches and accompany daily meals.
There are many different kinds of bread, from your simple white-sliced loaf to your olive and rosemary focaccia, with a wide variety of baguettes, bloomers and baps in between. You can even go further afield with breads such as Pita, Nordic or Naan to tantalise the taste buds!
Depending on its country of origin, yeast, olive oil or milk are also added. Each type of bread has its own recipe and flavour, making it different every time but always nutritious. Add fillings and accompaniments and you’ve got bread to suit all occasions!
According to our national cookery emblem Delia, to make the good old white loaf yourself, you’ll need around 700g of white flour, salt, yeast, sugar and of course water. And if you were to buy your loaf at ASDA for example, 100g (2 ½ slices) of medium sliced white bread would set you back around 218 calories for 43 of carbs, 8g of protein, 3.3 of fibre and only 1.5g of fat. Even our much-maligned white bread contains B-group vitamins and useful minerals.
Breads around the world rely on the same principles of fabrication, with a few variants. They can be found in supermarkets and grocery stores, at the bakery or caterers (Greek, Lebanese and other take-outs). They sometimes contain additives so that they last longer. You can also try and make them yourself!
Going global with bread
- The Tortilla: The Mexican tortilla is made from corn or wheat flour, water, salt and olive oil. Cooked on a heavy steel or cast iron plate called a comal, it is folded once and stuffed with cooked meats, beans and cheese to make fajitas or quesadillas.
Goes well with: marinated chicken, peppers, garlic, onion, lime and guacamole. Tortilla is served as a main dish accompanied with a green salad.
Benefits: corn flour is rich in carbohydrates and provides iron. An energy-packed snack thanks to its fillings and olive oil content.
- Pitta bread: Widely eaten in the Middle East and Greece, this flat round bread is made from wheat flour. The unleavened dough is cooked in the oven.
Goes well with: lettuce, tomatoes, feta cheese, olive or tzatziki, as a sandwich.
Benefits: hardly any fats but good complex carbohydrate content. Just 252 Cal per 100g, makes Pitta bread ideal for light sandwiches.
- Naan bread: This raised bread made from wheat flour comes from India. The dough is stretched into an oval shape and brushed with oil before being cooked on the side of a tandoor oven. It can also be made using yoghurt or cheese.
Goes well with: a vegetable curry, spicy meat dish or as a starter with a rocket leaf salad.
Benefits: Complex carbohydrates and calcium when filled with cheese. A little more fat content than the average bread, especially if the Naan is slathered in ghee or butter, which is often the case in Indian restaurants ... to be eaten sparingly.
- Swedish bread: Originating from Lapland, this type of bread has a soft, spongy texture. Made from wheat and rye flour, it is cooked in a traditional bread oven.
Goes well with: fish-based sandwiches: tuna, salmon, surimi or prawns. You can add cucumber, radishes, iceberg lettuce and a yoghurt sauce flavoured with dill or lemon.
Benefits: a reasonable snack with an average energy value of 270 Cal for 100g and 3.5g of fats. The rye flour in Swedish bread provides fibre and Vitamin B9, good for expectant mothers and helping make red blood cells. A good dietary friend for healthy, balanced sandwiches.
- Lavash bread or wraps: Of Middle Eastern origin, Lavash is like a wheat tortilla, while its Mexican version is made from corn flour and oil. There are many “wrap” recipes available and wraps have become widely available in fast food restaurants. They can also be cut into rolled slices and mini-sandwiches. And if you have any left over Lavash, that can get a bit hard, break it up into a bowl of hot soup, like they do in Iran.
Goes well with: lettuce, cream cheese, curried chicken or chicken and onions. Sometimes cut into maki-style slices with smoked fish and cucumber.
Benefits: it all depends on the recipe used, but Lavash generally has higher fat content than average, and is therefore higher in calories (approx. 300 Cal for 100g). It also has high protein content (10g for 100g) so is perfect with veggies and salad.
- Lebanese flat bread: As it name indicates, this flat bread comes from Lebanon! Lebanese flat bread, or Khoubiz, is often sold in packs of 10, to keep it soft. Made with wheat flour, yeast, salt and olive oil, it looks like a big pancake. Fast food restaurants often replace the olive oil with vegetable oil. Seeds are sometimes also added.
Goes well with: mezze (Lebanese starters) such as hummus, or with lentil salads... As a sandwich with falafel (made with chickpea flour), lettuce, onions, tomatoes or lamb kebab.
Benefits: its olive oil content makes it heavier than western breads, but oleic acid is beneficial for the arteries. Its fine texture means you can in fact make quite light sandwiches if you avoid the lamb.
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