If you're throwing a luncheon, and want to serve some unusual breads, then a good idea would be to find a bakery that specializes in breads and get a few different styles of bread. Instead of serving dinner rolls and regular white bread, you could impress your guests with a variety of foreign style breads that they will love. Here are three styles to consider.
A Rustic Bread: Pugliese
A rustic bread is always a visually impressive bread. It is a free form, crusty bread with lots of airy holes. This particular one is from the region of Italy known as Puglia. It's a very common rustic style bread in Southern Italy. Because rustic breads are tricky to cut (the crust can leave crumbs all over), you might want to slice half the loaf before hand and present it next to the uncut loaf, so that your guests won't have to hack away with a serrated knife and get upset at leaving crumbs all over your table.
If you can't happen to find the Pugliese, then any large, circular rustic style bread will suffice.
A Quick Bread: Irish Soda Bread
St. Patrick's Day just passed, but you will still be able to find a nice, authentic Irish soda bread at many bakeries. This bread is called a quick bread because there is no yeast involved in rising. The soda bread uses baking soda to assist in the rise, hence the name. The recipe also calls for buttermilk, which helps to activate the sodium bicarbonate as well as import a light tangy flavor to the bread. The soda bread will have raisins and often caraway seeds.
This bread has a soft, cakey, light texture, similar to the Italian sweet bread. It's not chewy, like the rustic bread. It would be good served with jam and butter.
A Light Fruit "Bread": Panettone
This is sweet bread with fruit that originates in Milan. Unlike some of the fruitcakes you might be accustomed to, this one is not super dense or overly sweet. It's a much more subtle flavor. You can find these in bakeries that cater to Italian clientele. Depending on the bakery, the ingredients will differ. Some recipes call for more candied cherries, others for more candied orange peel. However, the essential structure is the same. The sweet bread is large, round, and tall. It's lightly filled with candied fruit. This would be a nice bread to slice and serve with a good Italian wine either before or after the meal.
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