Gros Pain or Ciabatta?
What is the difference between French bread and Italian bread?
The two major authorities in authentic, traditional bread are undoubtedly France and Italy. Their breads are among the best in the world and seen on bread boards and in bread baskets in countless restaurants.
But, the real question is, are they that different? Let’s take a look at the average French and Italian bake to see what differences there really are.
Shape and size?
French - In general, the iconic French loaf is characterised as being long with rounded edges. The Baguette or a Gros Pain could be baked as long as 1m in special cases, but they usually average around 65 cm.
Italian - Italian bread is often more circular in shape seen as a flat and rounded bread. Loaves are, in general, both shorter and thicker than their French cousin.
Baking the Bread?
Italian – The Italians use the same flat stone ovens they use to bake pizzas.
French – The French use electric convection ovens. It gives the bread a softer texture.
Sweet or Savoury
French – The French have mastered both the sweet and savoury bread. The baguettes and pain de champagne are the pinnacle of savoury. But, the brioche is a perfect sweet bread.
Italian – Savoury is their forte, such as the popularity of Italian focaccias infused and topped with different herbs, oils and salts.
At the end of the day both Italian and French bread are made with the same simple ingredients: flour, water, salt, yeast. And, more importantly, an authentically baked loaf from either country is bread perfection. The differences between the styles in baking highlight how versatile bread is. These basic ingredients, when in the hands of skilled bakers, become artisanal works of art.
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