Bread is called a 'staple food', which means it is a basic food commonly eaten.

Bread is made from a dough of flour and water, and is usually baked. It has been a staple for many thousands of years, since the earliest times when humans learned how to grind grain to make flour.

Flat bread is unleavened bread. Getty Images

Flat bread is unleavened bread. Getty Images

History of bread

Thousands of years ago,  humans mixed together flour and water and baked it on flat stones at the edges of an open fire.

This was a very early form of bread.  Simple flat bread such as this is called unleavened bread.

The ancient Egyptians started using a wild yeast to make bread rise. Bread made with yeast is called leavened breadThey developed ovens in which several loaves of bread could be baked at once. The ancient Romans also baked leavened bread, and Roman bakeries produced a variety of kinds of bread. 

A Jewish bread called challah. Getty

A Jewish bread called challah. Getty

Leavened bread dough can be made into different shapes before baking, such as long rolls, short or round rolls, loaves, round loaves called cob loaves, and many others. Dough can even be plaited, like the Jewish challah loaves.

It wasn't until the 1800s that yeast was identified as a plant-like organism. It is the way bread is leavened because yeast produces a gas that raises the dough.

A loaf of bread ready to take out of the oven. Getty

A loaf of bread ready to take out of the oven. Getty

Yeast is added to flour and warm water. Because it is an organism, it can be killed if the water is too hot. Slightly warm water will encourage the yeast to grow. Bread dough is left in a warm place to 'prove', which allows the yeast to grow and increase the size of the dough. The dough is kneaded, shaped, and left once again to prove, usually doubling in size. It is then baked.

Sliced wholemeal bread. Getty Images

Sliced wholemeal bread. Getty Images

Bread technology

In 1928 the bread slicer was invented and so sliced bread became a product people could buy instead of uncut loaves they would slice at home. 

At about the same time the electric toaster was invented. Before then, toast was made by holding a slice of bread on a long fork in front of a fire.

There are many different kinds of bread, mostly made with wheat flour, but other flours are used as well, such as rye.

There are different breads in different countries and cultures. There are many leavened and unleavened breads.

 

Read more about different kinds of flour that are used to make bread:

http://www.bakeinfo.co.nz/Facts/Bread-making/Types-of-bread

Watch a video showing how to make bread:

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/videos/techniques/how-make-bread

Read about many different kinds of flatbread:

http://www.foodsubs.com/Flatbread.html