Yeast is a living organism. While you might not see it moving around in front of you, this single-celled organism can reproduce and rapidly multiply once it is exposed to warmth, liquids, and sugar and flour. Yeast breads all rely on yeast as a leavening agent and come in two types -- batter and kneaded. Batter breads, although they aren't kneaded, still require time to rise and have a coarser texture than kneaded breads, which are smooth.
Grain breads have a heavy, dense texture. Because they are often made with whole grains, they are healthier than your typical white bread. A grain bread can be made from a variety of mixtures including rye, wheat, buckwheat, barley, potato and oat. These are kneaded breads that you can make by hand or in a bread maker. Whole wheat sandwich bread, for example, is a grain bread.
White breads are soft, fluffy and most associated with sandwiches. These are available in American-style, a soft and airy white bread; French, a spongy, chewier bread; and Italian, a crusty exterior and soft, chewy inside. Other white yeast breads include pizza dough and breadsticks. White breads are kneaded, and can be made by hand or in a bread maker.
Sweet breads offer a light, airy texture and combine flour, yeast, liquid, fat and sugar to give it that sweet taste. Some types of sweet breads include cinnamon rolls, brioche, hot-cross rolls and sweet rolls. These can be served with breakfast, used for sandwiches or made into a dessert. They’re versatile and are considered kneaded breads.
Bagels are a type of batter yeast bread. However, they require a preparation that is different form most yeast breads. The dough is allowed to rise on its own, then it is punched down and shaped into the classic ring shape. To get that chewy texture, bagels are boiled in water, then baked. Out of the water bath, bagels can be topped with seeds, cinnamon and sugar, or toasted nuts.
Artisan breads, also known as hearth breads, bake in the oven on a stone or in a wood-fired hearth free form -- no pan required. These breads have a crispy crust and soft inside because they're a kneaded yeast bread. Some common types of hearth breads include baguettes, batard, semolina bread, rye bread and French loaves. Hearth breads can be made with a variety of grains, including wheat, buckwheat, semolina and sunflower seed.