Most of the breads that we consume in Western culture originated in Italy and France, and therefore the merits of various types of Italian and French breads have been debated since the beginning of bread baking.
Let’s quickly compare a few of the notable characteristics, then we’ll dive deeper into the details.
The first big difference between French and Italian bread is that French bread is made with a dough that is fermented for a long time, while Italian bread is made with a dough that is not fermented as long. This results in a different flavor and texture for the two types of bread. French bread is usually crustier, while Italian bread is softer and more fluffy.
With regards to shape, French bread is usually baked in a baguette shape while Italian bread is usually more of a wider loaf.
OK, now let’s get into some of the specific differences between French vs Italian Bread.
Which Breads Are Italian?
The Italians have a large array of breads, one of the most popular and common being pizza! Let’s find out more about the types of bread in Italy.
Focaccia is one of the most popular breads in Italy, and you are sure to have tried one. They are often topped with delicious things such as garlic, rosemary, tomatoes, onions, and olives.
Focaccia is made by making the dough, poking light holes in the surface, and cooking in olive oil with roasted vegetables and cheeses.
In Rome, focaccia tends to be thinner and crispy, but you may have had it fluffy or dense in other areas of the globe.
The ciabatta is probably the most recognizable Italian bread, and it holds some similarities to a French baguette. This is because the Italians created the ciabatta after they saw how popular the baguette was.
Ciabatta is eaten differently to baguette, as it is usually dipped in olive oil and vinegar, rather than made for sandwiches and fillings.
Panettone is the most common type of sweet bread in Italy. It is bread made for the festive season, and it is full to the brim of dried fruits, alcohol, butter, and eggs. It is delicious and is usually made using an aging process.
Although brioche is French, the Italians (particularly Sicilians) created their own. Sicilian brioches are made without molds, whereas the French are made in shapes.
Stirato is a baguette-like long piece of bread that has the same characteristics as a French baguette, but it is slightly airier.
Most people like pizza, but everyone knows pizza. Pizza is one of the most popular foods of all time, originating from Naples, Italy.
Pizza crusts are made with love, with a specific rising process that produces the fluffiest and most delicious base. In fact, in Naples, they have very strict rules with regards to how to make pizza napoletana and which ingredients are allowed. Here’s a quote from their governing body:
The products that provide the base for “Pizza Napoletana” include wheat flour type “00” with the addition of flour type “0,” yeast, natural water, peeled tomatoes and/or fresh cherry tomatoes, marine salt, and extra virgin olive oil.European Commission’s “Food Police”
Which Breads Are French?
France is known for some of the best and fluffiest breads on the planet. But, what breads are actually French? Here are a selection of the most popular French breads.
The national French bread is the baguette, and it is incredibly versatile. In France, it is usually an accompaniment to a main meal, or eaten as a sandwich.
French people also may take the fluffy middle out of the baguette, and only eating the outside.
Brioche is one of the best breads in the world (in our opinion, anyway!). It is delicious and sweet, and melts in your mouth. Brioche is made with eggs, sugar, and butter, so it is no wonder it is soft and delicious.
Croissants are a popular breakfast item around the world, and they have a similar feel to brioche, but with a crispy, flaky, exterior.
They are made through a lamination process, where the dough is continuously folded over with butter, making it flaky and delicious.
Believe it or not, sourdough was first made in France. It is one of the most popular breads around the world, known for its unique and sour aftertaste, and crispy exterior.
It is traditionally made with a sourdough leaven, which is an aged start yeast.
Country Bread/Pain De Campagne
Country bread is pretty popular in France, and it is made using whole meal flour, as well as rye.
Ficelle is a thin baguette that is a lot smaller and thinner. It is typically used to make sandwiches.
What Is The French Bread Culture Like?
In France, bread is widely appreciated throughout the whole culture. There’s a lot of competition between local bakeries. In fact, there’s over 30,000 bakeries in the entire country.
This is amazing in comparison to other countries. French bakers do not tend to use much else other than flour, salt, yeast, and water. Their technique is what makes their bread stand out.
Hours of thought and preparation goes into making a batch of bread, and there are no chemicals or preservatives in most of their food, especially bread.
What Is the Italian Bread Culture Like?
Italians enjoy their bread just as much as the French, but they often eat it with meats and cheese, rather than the bread alone. Also, butter on bread is not common in Italy as it is in France. Bread is eaten as a sandwich, and in restaurants, at the start of a meal in Italy.
They do not eat their bread as an accompaniment as much as the French. In fact, to eat bread at every meal, especially when pasta is served, is not common.
What’s The Difference Between a Boulangerie and a Pâtisserie?
France are known for having a large amount of bakeries. In France, a boulangerie will sell savory products such as breads and savory pastries. A pâtisserie however, is for exclusively sweet things such as tarts and gâteaux.
The French have two separate places for sweet, and savory.
French vs Italians
Italians tend to be “jealous” about French bread, and their breads are technically not as complex as French, but more rustic. Italians usually use more ingredients than the French.
This includes things such as olive oil, semolina, herbs, tomato, olives, and honey.
The French focus on the complexities, with the thick crust, and a lighter crumb. Italians produce bread with a dense crumb, and a crispy exterior.
Additionally, another difference is that the Italians use flour that is made from softer wheat. French wheat tends to be softer overall, but this is due to the added eggs and butter that they use in some of their breads.
Final Thoughts on French vs Italian Bread
Italy and France are both famous for their breads, and they may seem quite similar at first. However, Italian bread tends to have more of a crust, as well as a holey interior.
French bread is soft and sweet, as well as crispy and dense.