PNG images: Bread

Bread is a staple food prepared from a dough of flour and water, usually by baking. Throughout recorded history it has been popular around the world and is one of the oldest artificial foods, having been of importance since the dawn of agriculture.

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Proportions of types of flour and other ingredients vary widely, as do modes of preparation. As a result, types, shapes, sizes, and textures of breads differ around the world. Bread may be leavened by processes such as reliance on naturally occurring sourdough microbes, chemicals, industrially produced yeast, or high-pressure aeration. Some bread is cooked before it can leaven, including for traditional or religious reasons. Non-cereal ingredients such as fruits, nuts and fats may be included. Commercial bread commonly contains additives to improve flavor, texture, colour, shelf life, and ease of manufacturing.

Bread is served in various forms with any meal of the day. It is eaten as a snack, and used as an ingredient in other culinary preparations, such as sandwiches, and fried items coated in bread crumbs to prevent sticking. It forms the bland main component of bread pudding, as well as of stuffing's designed to fill cavities or retain juices that otherwise might drip out.

Bread has a social and emotional significance beyond its importance as nourishment. It plays essential roles in religious rituals and secular culture. Its prominence in daily life is reflected in language, where it appears in proverbs, colloquial expressions ("He stole the bread from my mouth"), in prayer ("Give us this day our daily bread") and in the etymology of words, such as "companion" (from Latin com "with" + panis "bread").

Bread is the staple food of the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and in European-derived cultures such as those in the Americas, Australia, and Southern Africa, in contrast to East Asia where rice is the staple. Bread is usually made from a wheat-flour dough that is cultured with yeast, allowed to rise, and finally baked in an oven. The addition of yeast to the bread explains the air pockets commonly found in bread. Owing to its high levels of gluten (which give the dough sponginess and elasticity), common or bread wheat is the most common grain used for the preparation of bread, which makes the largest single contribution to the world's food supply of any food.

Bread is also made from the flour of other wheat species (including spelt, emmer, einkorn and kamut). Non-wheat cereals including rye, barley, maize (corn), oats, sorghum, millet and rice have been used to make bread, but, with the exception of rye, usually in combination with wheat flour as they have less gluten.

Gluten-free breads have been created  for people affected by gluten-related disorders such as coeliac disease and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, who may benefit from a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free bread is made with ground flours from a variety of materials such as almonds, rice, sorghum, corn, or legumes such as beans, but since these flours lack gluten they may not hold their shape as they rise and their crumb may be dense with little aeration. Additives such as xanthan gum, guar gum, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC), corn starch, or eggs are used to compensate for the lack of gluten.

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