Due to the pandemic, flour has been flying off the shelves of grocery stores around the world. With people staying home much more often, home-cooking has become more prominent than ever. What are one of those household food staples, bread, of course.
Homemaking bread is a resourceful skill that’s keeping many busy in their kitchens. I’m sure we all know banana bread and sourdough. But let’s go over some traditional breads from foreign countries to try your hand at.
Mantou – China
Rice, egg noodles, breaded meat all come to mind when you think of Chinese food, but in China, they have buns called mantou that are especially popular in the northern, wheat growing regions,
Mantou is a big part of the street food culture as they’re often made with sandwiches called bao and cha siu bao.
Mantou is a very puffy bread, and they get that way not by its ingredients that consist of the standard flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and water combination. Once the dough is prepared, it’s steamed instead of baked.
This bread has the nickname “barbarian head” due to an old Chinese legend. In order to impress the river gods, a warrior sent several dozen puffy loaves of mantou floating down the river because he believed they would look like the floating heads of the god’s enemies.
Focaccia – Italy
Focaccia stems from the Latin word hearth, where this bread was originally cooked during the Roman Empire’s prominence. This flat, fluffy bread is often made with rosemary and other herbs as your table bread at most spaghetti restaurants. It’s also used instead of traditional pizza crusts at high end dining establishments.
Focaccia is made with a blend of yeast, flour, salt, sugar, and olive oil texture and flavor. From there, many chefs will play around using different combinations of fruit, olives, herbs, and other ingredients.
Chapati – India
Chapati is one of the oldest breads ever created. It has been embedded as a food staple throughout many parts of India, Africa, and even the Middle-East. Later on, colonialism eventually spread this bread into Kenya and the Caribbean.
Chapati is unleavened, so the ingredients come together almost immediately. You need a special flour to replace the yeast, however. It is known as atta flour which can be found in most Asian or Indian markets.
Soda Bread – Ireland
The origins of soda bread are more based in America, but was much more heavily adopted as a staple in Ireland in the 19th century.
No yeast, and no need to knead the dough. It doesn’t even need an oven. All you require is some baking soda for it’s rise, and you can set it by the hearth to be cooked.
Poverty-stricken Irish farmers depended on this bread as they didn’t have much kitchen equipment. It’s been a staple ever since.