Bread Recipes





From baguettes to naan, bread is a staple across the globe. It comes in many forms: leavened and not, flat and square, round and chewy—the list goes on. All bread has at least some sort of grain or flour as the main ingredient. Pumpernickel contains dark rye, sourdough has wheat, and corn bread is made of, what else, ground cornmeal. F&W’s guide is a window to the world’s bread options, with recipes from a variety of countries, techniques for making the best loaves and tips from master bakers.

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A mother follows the breadcrumb trail to piece together a family history and nourish her growing son.

Masa Preparada for Tamales

Paola Briseño González often uses duck fat for her masa preparada for tamales but switches to shortening for vegetarian guests. Whether you grind your own homemade fresh masa or you pick some up at a local Latin market, it’s the secret to perfect tamales. A dough made from masa harina can be used if fresh masa is unavailable, but it will lack the sweet corn aroma and fluffy texture of fresh masa. For convenient-yet-flavorful alternatives to fresh masa, try the masa harina from Masienda (from $7, masienda.com), made from single-origin heirloom corn sourced from Oaxaca, or Gold Mine’s Organic Yellow Masa Harina (from $10, amazon.com).

Homemade Fresh Masa

To make fresh homemade masa for tortillas or tamales, you must first prepare nixtamal—dried corn soaked in an alkaline solution. Though this process of nixtamalization may sound intimidating, it’s quite simple and requires only two key ingredients: dried dent corn and pickling lime, or cal, both of which are available at Latin markets and online. First-time masa makers should look for yellow dent corn, which has a high content of soft starch that will produce soft, pliable dough that is easy to work. (We like the Great River Organic Milling brand, available at amazon.com). Cal breaks down the outer hull of the corn and softens the starch within, making it more nutritious and easier to grind and form into a dough. While the corn needs to soak in the lime solution overnight, the resulting sweet corn flavor and texture are well worth the extra time. Event producer Paola Briseño González uses a metal Estrella molino, or mill, to grind the corn; she’s also developed a genius food processor technique that yields excellent results. If using a processor, be sure to let the corn cook and soak a bit longer to ensure that it grinds evenly.

Onion Jam and Goat Cheese Rugelach

Originating in Eastern Europe, recipes for rugelach evolved after landing in America. The crescent-shaped cookies are typically layered with jam and chopped nuts and topped with a generous sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, but the dough makes a surprisingly compatible home for savory fillings. These are spread with a thick homemade onion jam flavored with balsamic vinegar, sumac, and coriander. Serve them as an hors d’oeuvre with a glass of sparkling wine while lighting Hanukkah candles, and save the leftovers for a decadent snack the next day.

More Bread + Dough

Vegan Pesto Babka

At Goldenrod Pastries in Lincoln, Nebraska, everything is without gluten and dairy, and many pastries are vegan or nut-free. Dietary challenges led chef-owner Angela Garbacz to fall in love with what she calls “diet-inclusive baking,” and to fill her shops and her new cookbook, Perfectly Golden, with treats everyone can enjoy. This completely vegan savory babka relies on almond milk and vegetable oil for richness, while the pesto that's braided into it leans on fresh herbs, peppery arugula, and plenty of garlic for flavor. The babka dough is well hydrated, resulting in a moist loaf with a well-developed crumb. Trust us, you won’t miss the butter.

Bavarian Pretzels

Rating: Unrated
3

All it takes is a few additional ingredients to transform ho-hum soft pretzels into something magical. A few pats of butter, barley malt syrup for earthy sweetness, and replacing some of the water with beer all lend depth for a more rustic, nuanced taste. An extended fermentation in the refrigerator overnight—rather than a quick rise—adds even more complexity, as does topping the pretzels with crunchy flaky sea salt. But the distinctive “pretzel” flavor comes from dipping the shaped dough in an alkaline solution before baking. (Food scientist Harold McGee discovered that heating baking soda in a low oven alters its pH, making it more similar to lye, and his baked baking soda is the secret ingredient for these exceptional homemade pretzels.) Forming these pretzels can seem tricky at first glance, but once you have the dough ropes in your hands, it flows like clockwork. Follow the instructions about handling the baking soda solution with care; while much safer than lye, it can burn your hands, as well as corrode aluminum pans. (No need to panic; just wear gloves, turn on your oven vent, and line your pans.) These pretzels are best the day they’re made, preferably hot out of the oven.