8 Fabulous Bread Recipes from around the World ...

Bread recipes have been a staple of many people´s diets for centuries. Every culture has its selection of breads. These days, though, we rely on tasteless sliced bread that has little nutritional value or flavour. Why, when there are so many fantastic bread recipes? So I´ve picked out some gorgeous bread recipes from around the world that will show you how this most basic of foods can be utterly irresistible …

1. Ciabatta

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Ciabatta is probably my favourite bread ever. I adore its crusty outside and soft inside. Most supermarkets stock it, but it´s much easier than you think to make your own.

Ingredients:
500g High grade flour (strong flour)
450 ml Luke warm (room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoon dry Yeast
1 ½ teaspoon salt
Olive Oil

Instructions::
Preheat oven to 200C.
In a large bowl, mix with your hands the flour, sugar and yeast.
Pour in the water.
Add salt at 'beat' in the bowl with your hands for 5 minutes. The dough should be like a very thick pancake paste, not like a regular bread dough. To beat the dough you need to pull at parts of the dough and stretch it up high and then slap it down again. This pushes air pockets into the dough to create the airy texture. If you have a food mixer, beat it with a dough hook but still finish off with the hand method to push air pockets into the dough.

Pour about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the dough so the oil covers the top and goes down the sides of the dough.

Allow the dough to rise by covering it with plastic wrap for about 1 hour or until it doubles in size.

Pour the dough onto a well floured work surface (without kneading any further) and fold over like an envelope length-wise to create the ciabatta shape.

Lift the dough onto a floured baking tray and bake for 30-40 minutes, until it is golden and sounds hollow when tapped.

2. Aloo Naan

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Another of my favourite bread recipes is naan bread. Again, it´s not difficult to make, and there are so many variations on the basic recipe. Try this tasty potato naan and see how you like it!

Ingredients:
2 cups maida/all purpose flour
1/2 cup plain yogurt/curd
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 teaspoon onion seeds [kalonji]
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup milk or water [enough to need dough]
Butter

For potato filling:
2 medium potatoes
Salt to taste
1 finely chopped green chili
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder

Directions:
Knead a medium soft dough by mixing all the ingredients together.
Cover the dough with a damp cloth and keep it in a warm place for 3-4 hours.
Mash the potatoes and add green chili, coriander leaves, red chili powder, garam masala, and salt to the mashed potatoes and mix it well. Make small balls of this potato filling.
Make six equal sized balls from the dough.
Roll the dough into a 3-inch circle, place one potato ball in the center, and pull the edges of the dough to seal the potato filling.

Shape each ball of dough with the palms to make an oval shape or roll with a rolling pin to give it an oval or round shape.
Apply a little oil and put the onion seeds on top.
Cook in a preheated oven at 500 Degrees F, until it is golden brown on top, then brush it lightly with butter.
Serve with naan yogurt.

3. Middle Eastern Flatbreads

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I could never follow a low- or no-carb diet – I love bread too much! Middle Eastern food is a favourite of mine, and I always order flatbreads when I eat this type of cuisine. They are surprisingly easy to make at home, so if you love them too, definitely try this recipe!

Ingredients:
1/2 tsp dried yeast
250 ml warm water
500 g plain or wholemeal flour, or a mix of both, plus extra for dusting
60 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions:
In a jug, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and make a wide well in the middle.

Gradually pour in the extra virgin olive oil and the water/yeast mixture and stir slowly with one hand, bringing the flour into the middle until it all comes together to form a dough.

Using the ball of your hand, knead until your dough is elastic and smooth. Shape into a ball, cover with clingfilm and leave to rest for 1-2 hours in a warm, dry place.

Either heat up a griddle pan or preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7. If you're using the oven, slip in two oven trays to preheat them.

Divide the dough into six equal pieces and roll each one out to 1/2 cm (or less) thick. Sprinkle with sea salt and either bake in the oven on your preheated trays (drizzle the trays with extra virgin olive oil first) for 6-8 minutes, or until lightly golden, or lay them carefully on a hot griddle to grill for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden.

4. Pupusas

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I bet you´ve never come across this bread recipe before! Well, it´s time to look at something different, I think – so here is a bread popular in El Salvador. Trust me, you are going to love this one!

Ingredients:
Masa harina -- 2 cups
Warm water -- 1 cup
Filling (see variations) -- 1 cup

Directions:
In a large bowl, mix together the masa harina and water and knead well. Knead in more water, one tablespoonful at a time if needed, to make a moist, yet firm dough. (It should not crack at the edges when you press down on it.) Cover and set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Roll the dough into a log and cut it into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball.

Press an indentation in each ball with your thumb. Put about 1 tablespoon of desired filling into each indentation and fold the dough over to completely enclose it. Press the ball out with your palms to form a disc, taking care that the filling doesn't spill out.

Line a tortilla press with plastic and press out each ball to about 5 or 6 inches wide and about 1/4-inch thick. If you don't have a tortilla press, place the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper and roll it out with a rolling pin.

Heat a greased skillet over medium-high flame. Cook each pupusa for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and blistered. Remove to a plate and hold warm until all pupasas are done. Serve with curtido and salsa roja.

Variations:
This recipe uses masa harina, a special dried cornmeal flour used in making tortillas, tamales, etc. If you are able to get fresh masa, definitely use it instead. The flavor will be much fresher. Just substitute the masa harina and water with fresh masa. One pound will make about 4 to 6 pupusas depending on size.

Pupusas de Queso: With a cheese filling. Use grated quesillo, queso fresco, farmer's cheese, mozzarella, Swiss cheese or a combination. Add some minced green chile if you like.

Pupusas de Chicharrones: With a filling of fried chopped pork and a little tomato sauce. A reasonable facsimile can be made by pulsing 1 cup of cooked bacon with a little bit of tomato sauce in a food processor.
Pupusas de Frijoles Refritos: With a refried bean filling.
Pupusas Revueltas: Use a mixture of chicharrones, cheese and refried beans.
Pupusas de Queso y Loroco: With a cheese and tropical vine flower filling.Loroco can be found in jars at many Latin markets.

Pupusas de Arroz: A variety of pupusa that uses rice flour instead of corn masa.

Other Fillings: Cooked potatoes or finely minced, sautéed jalapeño peppers are also tasty fillings. Try a mixture of different fillings.

5. Pão De Queijo

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And now, a recipe from Brazil that makes a popular breakfast dish. Pão de Queijo means ´cheese bread´ in Portuguese. It is a great breakfast food, but also try it as a snack or a side bread with your other meals. You won't be sorry!

Ingredients:
Milk -- 1 cup
Oil or butter -- 1/4 cup
Salt -- 1/2 teaspoon
Yuca (cassava) flour -- 1 pound
Eggs -- 3
Grated parmesan cheese -- 1 cup

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Bring the milk, oil or butter and salt to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high flame.

Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the yuca flour until it forms a smooth batter. Set aside to cool somewhat, 10-15 minutes.

Beat in the eggs one at a time until they are fully incorporated, then stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Form 2-3 tablespoons of the batter at a time into balls with moistened hands and set on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Serve hot.

Variations:
Chipás (Argentina): form the batter into biscuit or donut shapes before baking.
Try using different types of grated cheese.
Add a pinch of dried oregano or basil to the batter.
Cornstarch is sometimes substituted for the yuca flour.

6. Foccaccia Genovese

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The Italians do have some fabulous bread recipes! If I make foccaccia, I always use rosemary – it´s my favourite herb to use with bread. The great thing about this bread is that you can easily add your favourite things, too!

Ingredients:
Active dry yeast -- 1 (1/4-ounce) package
Lukewarm (110°F) water -- 1/4 cup
All-purpose flour -- 3 1/2 to 4 cups
Sea salt -- 1 1/2 teaspoons
Water -- 1 to 1 1/2 cups
Honey -- 1 tablespoon
Extra virgin olive oil -- 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup
Sea salt -- 2 teaspoons
Fresh rosemary (optional) -- 1 or 2 tablespoons

Directions:
Add the yeast and lukewarm water to a small bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to activate the yeast.

In a large bowl, mix together 3 1/2 cups of the flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast mixture, 1 cup of the water, honey and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Stir with a wooden spoon to bring the ingredients together. Add more flour or water as needed to form a soft, pliable, somewhat sticky dough. Remove to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, around 8 to 10 minutes. (Steps 2 and 3 can also be done in a countertop mixer with a dough hook.)

Set the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and lightly oil the top of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and set in a draft-free area of the kitchen to rise anywhere from 2 to 3 hours.

Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Punch down the dough and lightly knead it 3 or 4 times. Form into a rough rectangle.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Oil a medium-sized baking pan and place the dough in the pan. Use your hands to push the dough out to the sides of the pan so that it fully and evenly covers the bottom. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Use your fingers to press dimpled indentations all over the dough. Brush the dough all over with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil. Sprinkle with the remaining sea salt and the fresh rosemary.

Set the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 400°F and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes. Cut into squares and serve immediately.

7. Cornbread

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Here´s a fabulously easy recipe for cornbread fans! Pop it in the oven while you´re making the rest of the meal. Enjoy it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and don't be afraid to try some exciting variations!

Ingredients:
2 cups cornmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar, or as desired
1 1/2 cups milk
2 large eggs
5 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions:
Grease a 9-inch square baking pan. Heat oven to 400°.
In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and butter. Combine the two mixtures and stir until blended. Spoon into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.

8. Irish Soda Bread

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If you´re new to breadmaking and nervous about using yeast, then try making soda bread. It´s also a good option if you´ve run out of yeast! Make it savory or sweet, it all comes down to what your taste buds are craving!

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (1 pound)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
4 Tbsp butter (1/2 stick) room temp
1 1/2 cups buttermilk*
*If necessary, you can substitute buttermilk with a half cup of plain yogurt mixed in with a cup of plain milk and a tablespoon of white vinegar.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450°F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and caraway seeds.

Using your fingers (or a fork) work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

Make a well in the center of the flour. Pour the buttermilk into the center and using either your hands or a wooden spoon, fold the flour over the buttermilk and gently mix until just combined. The dough should be neither too wet or too dry, so if it is a little too dry to work with, add a little more buttermilk. If too wet, add a little more flour. Roughly shape into a ball and place on a floured surface. Knead just a few times to shape it into a round loaf. Do not over-knead or the bread will be tough.

Place dough loaf onto a lightly greased baking sheet (or cast iron pan). Make 1 1/2-inch deep cuts, forming a cross, from side to side on the loaf. The scoring helps the heat get to the center of the loaf while cooking.

Place in oven, cook for 15 minutes at 450°F, then lower the heat to 400°F and cook for 25 more minutes. One way to test for doneness is to take it out of the oven, turn it over and knock on the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it's done. You can also use a skewer inserted into the center.

Let bread sit on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes to cool. Then remove it to a rack to cool a little bit longer. Quick breads like this, which rely on baking soda for leavening, are generally best eaten soon after they're baked.

Making your own bread doesn´t have to take a long time to prepare or cook. Lots of bread recipes are easy and don´t use yeast, so don´t be daunted. Roll up your sleeves and get kneading! Do you have any foolproof bread recipes?

Sources: peasepudding.wordpress.com, itskitchentime.com, uktv.co.uk, whats4eats.com, whats4eats.com, whats4eats.com, southernfood.about.com, simplyrecipes.com

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