Everybody wants to bake bread these days.
As our Covid semi-quarantine rounds on a full year we all crave things that are unique and a bit of a treat. And for most people warm fresh bread is comfort and just the right amount of indulgent.
It makes the house smell good, and it always tastes amazing when it’s just out of the oven. It can hold good memories of vacations or or time when you lived someplace else. And it can introduce you to a place you’ve never been.
I have some favorite no-fail bread recipes I use over and over.
One of my easiest and most reliable is actually Bell’s French Baguettes from a Disney Princess cookbook my daughter loved for a while. That same book has a great recipe for southern spoon bread, too (from Tiana), which is the ultimate comfort food.
I also love the Cheat’s Sourdough (or pretty much any bread recipe) in the Great British Bake-Off Big Book of Baking. We use it so much these days the spine is about to give out.
Below are 12 more bread recipes from around the world; all simple enough to make with kids. They’re great for staycations, international nights, world schooling, or just trying something new.
Think of them as both comfort food and a taste journey to sustain you during this time when you can’t travel further than your supermarket— which I hope is stocked with bread flour.
A tip for crusty bread
Tip: With any bread where you want a crunchy crust (like a baguette or ciabatta), place a roasting pan on the bottom of you oven when you turn it on to heat up. When you pop the bread in, pour a bowl of ice cubes into the hot roasting pan and shut the door quickly. The steam will help your crust along beautifully.
Travel The Globe From Your Kitchen With These Easy-To-Make Breads
Breads from Europe
Bread: Brown Bread
Where’s It from: Ireland
Why it’s good: I became acquainted with brown bread as a high schooler traveling around Ireland on a summer program and then with my family. It’s a staple at the breakfast table of pretty much any hotel or B&B around the Emerald Isle, and all home bakers know how to whip it up.
It’s a whole grain bread but it’s not dry and it’s packed with flavor. I much prefer it to soda bread because it’s more versatile. It’s great toasted with butter alongside eggs, loves a dallop of jam and also is a good base for strong cheeses.
The recipe: It’s my spin on the recipe for Ballymaloe bread in Deborah Krasner’s From Celtic Hearths cookbook.
The recipe makes 3 small loaves. I keep one to eat and freeze or share the others, or I half the recipe and make one larger loaf. My experience is that yogurt doesn’t add the same amount of moisture as an equal amount of milk so I prefer a combination of the two if I can’t find buttermilk.
Irish Brown Bread
- 4 cups WW flour (I like white WW flour from Trader Joe’s
- 1 cup white flour
- ½ cup of rolled oats (I’ve also used instant cook steel-cook oats and it came out fine)
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2-3 cups of buttermilk or a mix of regular milk and plain yogurt
- Preheat oven to 475. Lightly oil a large cookie sheet or half-sheet pan (cooking spray is fine, as are silicone non-stick sheets)
- In a large bowl or stand mixer combine flours, oats, baking soda and salt. Mix
- With hand or stand mixer on a low speed gradually beat in 2 cups of the buttermilk or milk/yogurt. The dough should be able to hold its shape but not be too stiff. Don’t overwork it.
- Turn onto a floured surface and knead it for a minute or two.
- Divide into three equal rounds (a scale is the best way to get uniform size). Fit them onto the prepared baking sheet and use a sharp knife to score an X into each one.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 400º and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. They’re done when they are equally browned and sound hollow when you rap on the bottom.
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Where’s it from: Holland
Why it’s good: This is one of those not-too-sweet bread-cake hybrids that Europeans love and that are great with coffee.
Nicky at Little Family Adventures says, “Ontbijtkoek, translated from Dutch as breakfast bread, is always a welcome treat in my house. This quick bread spiced with cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, plus molasses and honey is traditionally served for breakfast.”
Try it warm from the oven with butter or a dollop of cream cheese. The next day, toast the leftovers to warm them up a bit.
The Recipe: Nicky frequently turns to this recipe that she’s adapted to be dairy free
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Bread: Sunday Zopf
Where’s it from: Switzerland
Why it’s good: Kristin at Swiss Family Travel says: On Sundays in Switzerland you will find golden braided loaves gracing most bakery shelves.
The bread is called Zopf, an essential item of every Swiss breakfast table. It looks a lot like the Jewish Challah, but it’s much more rich and decadent thanks to the butter in the recipe.
There are many different recipes for Zopf. Some add an egg, others don’t, and some add even more butter. The yeast-dough is the basis for making seasonal treats too.
You will find hearts at Valentine’s Day and a Santa like figure called Grittibänz at Christmas. For Easter, the dough is shaped into bunnies and Easter nests.
The recipe: You’ll find links to Christmas Grittibänz recipes on Swiss Family Travel.
Where it’s from: Germany
Why it’s good: Kirsten Maxwell from Kids are a Trip says, “This is the one bread that is always a hit with my kids. Stollen is a cake-like candied fruit bread, with a special marzipan surprise inside.
“It is traditionally sold in German Christmas markets, but my family can never get enough, so I make it year round.
“The tradition of baking stollen dates to the 14th century and today the most famous stollen is from Dresden.”
Try this version toasted with butter and maybe a dab of jam. If it starts to get stale it makes good bread pudding and French toast, too.
Recipe: Kirsten says her easy to make stollen recipe is fun to bake with kids and an opportunity to teach them about German culture.
Bread: Vasilopita (New Year Bread)
Where it’s from: Greece
Why it’s good: Elizabeth at Bowl of Delicious says: Growing up, I can’t remember a New Year’s day that didn’t involve Vasilopita.
This Greek New Year’s bread is sweet and moist, baked with eggs and milk, scented with orange zest, and topped with toasty sesame seeds.
It’s brushed with an egg wash before baking and a pattern is carved into it with a sharp knife or razor blade, which results in a gorgeous loaf of bread with a deep, dark, chestnut-brown color.
Recipe: Use this Bowl of Delicious recipe to make this bread at any time of year, whether or not you have something to celebrate.
Bread: Rosemary Focaccia
Where it’s from: Italy
Why it’s good: Sylive at A Baking Journey says: Focaccia is a traditional yeast-based Italian bread enriched with olive oil. Baked on a sheet pan, a Focaccia is recognizable by its dense chewy texture and the small holes poking throughout the dough.
This simple Focaccia recipe made with sea salt and rosemary, but feel free to leave out the herb or add different flavorings according to your family’s tastes.
Similar to pizza dough in texture and taste, focaccia bread makes a great party appetizer or can be the start of an easy and versatile lunch or dinner.
Serve it with your favorite toppings including herbs, condiments, vegetables, cheeses or cured meats to make bruschetta, sandwiches or a quick pizza. Or have it alongside a seasonal soup.
Recipe: Try Sylvie’s simple focaccia recipe.
Breads From Latin America
Bread: Flour Tortillas
Where it’s from: We associate tortillas with Mexico, but they eat them throughout Central America.
Why it’s good: Rebecca from Of Batter and Dough says: Homemade tortillas are SO. MUCH. BETTER. than what’s available in grocery stores.
Even better, they’re surprisingly simple and take considerably less time or effort than you might think, especially if you have a stand mixer to do all the kneading for you. Just dump all the ingredients into your bowl and let the mixer do the work of transforming flour, water and butter into dough.
But never fear, I made my own tortillas for years before I owned a stand mixer. I mixed the ingredients in a bowl and then kneaded the soft dough with my hands for a few of minutes. A little extra work that’s totally worth it.
This all-butter recipe is easily doubled if you’re making tortillas for a crowd or just want to have a good stash. They keep for a couple of days, freeze well and thaw in seconds in the microwave.
When I have extras I make breakfast burritos and my teens snack on them for the next few days.
Recipe: Try your hand at making homemade tortillas with Rebecca’s recipe.
Bread: Pan de Yuca
Where it’s from: Ecuador and other parts of Latin America.
Why it’s good: Kristen from Moon & Spoon & Yum I first encountered this cheese bread whilst traveling around South America. I quickly fell in love with it chewy, fluffy texture and perfectly cheesy flavor.
I knew that when I returned to the states I’d have to learn how to re-create this super delicious snack. Luckily, it’s quick to make and bake.
It’s also gluten-free if that matters to you; made with tapioca flour, feta and parmesan cheese.
It has its roots in Ecuador, but several places in Latin America have a version. Pan de Yuca has become a dinnertime table staple in our house and I hope it becomes one in yours!
Recipe: Use Kristen’s recipe to make these for a snack or as part of a Latin American meal.
Tip: Some people live by their bread machines. And there are plenty to choose from at prices ranging from below $150 to over $500. Consumer Reports has buying guides that can help figure out what bells & whistles are worth paying for and decide what you need to spend for something decent.
Just keep in mind that you might have to alter recipes for the machine, so a baking book focused on bread machines can help until you get the hang of it enough to adapt your favorite recipes.
Breads From Asia
Where it’s from: Several cultures make Roti. This one is from Sri Lanka.
Why it’s good: from Julia at Inspire World Travel says: Sri Lanka has some of the best food I’ve encountered on my travels. The curries are outstanding, and the array of fresh fruit and vegetables is a feast for the eyes AND the stomach.
Roti and delectable coconut sambol are staples in this south-east Asian country.
After a cooking class on my fantastic trip there with G Adventures, as well as closely observing my brother-in-law’s relatives cooking in their home kitchen, I felt ready to take on the simplest Sri Lankan foods– roti and sambol– after I returned home.
Now, when I make them at home (to everyone’s delight), I am transported to the warm breezes, swaying palm trees, stunning landscapes and the ubiquitous smiles of that wonderful country.
The Recipe: Get the Sri Lankan breezes blowing in your kitchen with Julia’s recipes for roti and sambol.
Bread: Poori or Puri
Where it’s from: India
Why it’s good: Amit at Veg Recipes of India says: Poori is a very popular Indian fry bread made with unleavened whole wheat dough. We make pooris day-to-day and for special occasions, so there are many recipes you can try to make poori suit your taste buds.
You can add spices to the dough or eat them stuffed with spiced mashed potatoes, spinach or Beets or even using ripe bananas for a slightly weet treat.
Crisp, golden and soft, pooris are made with whole wheat flour, salt and water. You can have them alongside any kind of curry or any vegetable dish.
Every region in India has a special potato curry recipe to eat with poori. Potatoes and pooris are a frequent vegetarian combination and a popular Indian breakfast. But you can eat them anytime.
Recipe: You can try your hand at these fun, puffed breads with Amit’s recipe.
Where it’s from: They make it an several Asian countries and it’s particularly popular in India
Why it’s good: Amit at Veg Recipes of India says: You’ll find naan in most Indian restaurants an in the U.S. and elsewhere. It goes well with any curry dish and is good for soaking up sauces and taming peppery flavors.
Traditionally naan is baked in a tandoor, a cylindrical clay oven, but you can make it on a stovetop or in a conventional oven. Y
You can try making these puffy chewy, soft flatbreads with yeast or without. They’re usually made with all-purpose flour, which means you almost always have the ingredients in your kitchen.
Recipe: Try Amit’s easy and healthy recipe for making naan on a griddle or stovetop
Tip: Curries are a great big-pot meal for feeding a crowd or having an “international night” with the family. Add a salad, maybe some frozen Indian finger food from Trader Joes, and beer or mango-yogurt smoothies to round out the evening.
Bread: Garlic Naan with Butter and Parsley
Where’s it from: Naan means bread in Persian, which is why you’ll find it similar to some middle eastern flatbreads, even though we associate it with Indian food.
Why it’s good: Rebecca from Of Batter and Dough says: This yeast-leavened Indian flat bread that is slightly crispy on the outside and deliciously tender on the inside.
It’s one of the easiest and fastest homemade yeast breads you can bake, and the garlic, butter and parsley on top of this one make it ideal for a party, or to keep around for snacking. It might become a staple of your kitchen.
Tandoors cook the naan dough quickly over very, very high heat. But, I don’t have a tandoor sitting around my house and I’m willing to bet neither do you.
I DO have a hearth stone (pizza stone) which works like a charm, baking up naan loaves that are slightly brown and crisp on the outside and soft and yeasty on the inside.
To “bake” naan in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop, heat the skillet over medium-high heat and cook the naan one at a time for two to four minutes per side.
Recipe: When you’re ready to move on from basic version of this bear, try Rebecca’s garlicky twist on naan.