Both Italy and France are countries that specialize in bread making. Bread is essential to almost every meal in Italy and France. However, the two countries approach bread-making quite differently from one another.
When we think of French bread, the “the French stick” usually comes to mind. It is a long, thin crusty loaf that is typically referred to as a “baguette,” which directly translates into “a stick.” The Baguette may be the most popular type of bread in France. It is eaten throughout almost every province in the country. Other types of ordinary French white bread include the couronne, which is bread in the shape of a ring, or “country bread” (pain de campagne) that often incorporates whole wheat or rye flour in its ingredients.
In terms of Italian bread making, they allow the yeast to fully rise over the course of a few hours, resulting in a very thin-crusted loaf. The interior of Italian bread is typically extremely moist and absorbent to better to soak up olive oil and tomatoes. Types of Italian bread include ciabatta, made of wheat flour and yeast, piadina, made of flour, lard and slat, and panettone, a bread that is native to Milan.
Both countries make delicious loaves, but the similarities between Italian and French bread end the moment you compare the two side by side. The first way to distinguish Italian from French bread is to simply eyeball the two. To broadly generalize, while French bread is long with rounded edges, Italian bread comes in a more overall circular shape.
French bread is typically baked in a long, thin shape and has become the major food symbol of the country. The baguette can be baked as long as 30 inches and is a staple in almost every region.
Italian bread is known to be baked in more a flat and round shape. Italian loaves are also shorter and typically thicker than their French counterparts. Although it is possible to get baguette-type looking bread in an Italian bakery, on average, most Italian bread is shaped into larger rounds.
There are endless variations in size and shape for bread in each country, but there are indicators that will distinguish the two. In France, breads are usually given as a starter. French brioche, a sweet bread, is sometimes eaten in the morning with breakfast meals. The French also employ the baguette as a multipurpose bread, used for sandwiches and as the base for canapés. Italian breads are usually served as a supplement to pasta or other main courses. Italians eat bread to absorb the flavors of olive oils or thick sauces in a rich meal.
Both are made with the same ingredients in a similar fashion. However, one major difference in ingredients is that bread making in France is more tightly controlled than in Italy. By law in France, bread cannot have added oil or fat. French baguettes, for instance, must be made from water, flour, yeast, and salt. Italian bread often contains a little bit more milk, olive oil, and sometimes sugar in its contents.