Italian Bread and French Bread: What’s the Difference?

Pretzel Roll

When it comes to European breadmaking, two culinary powerhouses stand out: Italy and France. 

Bread forms a vital cornerstone of both these countries’ renowned cuisines. Both Italy and France have rich histories of breadmaking, but their approaches and results are distinctly different. 

At Panificio Italiano, we – as an Italian artisan bread wholesaler – think it’s only right to recognise and honour our culture and family history when baking our signature authentic Italian artisan bread. That doesn’t mean that we can’t appreciate French breadmaking, though, as that in itself is a similar signature process that accentuates their quality.

Let’s explore what sets Italian and French breads apart, and why understanding these distinctions matters for quality-conscious businesses in the hospitality industry.

French and Italian Bread Products: Two Unique Traditions

At first glance, both French and Italian artisan bread might seem similar – after all, they’re both European and often made with simple ingredients. However, delve a little deeper, and you’ll discover a world of differences in flavour, texture, and markup.

Shape and Appearance

French breads are often characterised by their long, slender shapes. The iconic French baguette, with its elongated form and crisp crust, is perhaps the most recognisable French bread product, synonymous with signature local French bakeries and cafes. Other iconic French loaves like the boule (round) or batard (shorter and wider than a baguette) also have distinctive shapes which you would often find in high-street cafes and bistros.

Italian breads, on the other hand, tend to come in a wider variety of shapes and sizes. From the flat, dimpled focaccia to the round, crusty pane Toscano, Italian breads reflect the diverse regional traditions across Italy. At Panificio Italiano, we craft a range of authentic Italian bread rolls, sub rolls, paninis and bloomers, each designed to complement different meals and purposes.

Ingredients and Flavour Profiles

French bread typically adheres to a simple formula of flour, water, yeast, and salt. These simple ingredients allow their quality and the baker’s skill to shine through with minimal disruption. French breads often have a subtle, delicate flavour with a focus on the natural taste of wheat, even with glazed brioche.

Italian breads, while also containing the essentials, are more likely to incorporate additional ingredients like olive oil, milk, or herbs. This results in a broader range of flavours and textures. Our artisanal Italian loaves at Panificio Italiano showcase this diversity, from the rich, olive oil-infused taste of focaccia to the rustic heartiness of ciabatta.

Crust and Crumb

French breads are renowned for their crisp, crackling crusts and light, airy interiors. A perfectly baked baguette, in particular, is prized for its contrast between the crunchy exterior and the soft, pillowy texture inside. 

Italian breads often have a softer crust and a denser crumb structure. This makes them ideal for soaking up sauces or olive oil, a common practice in Italian cuisine. Our Italian loaves at Panificio Italiano are crafted to provide the perfect texture for a variety of culinary applications, from signature sandwiches to al fresco dining appetisers and accompaniments for main courses.

Baking Techniques

Traditional wholesale French bread baking often involves steam injection during the early stages of baking. This creates the signature crisp crust while allowing for maximum oven spring (the final burst of rising that occurs in the oven).

Wholesale Italian bakers deploy techniques that vary widely by region and type of bread. Some breads, like focaccia loaves, are baked in pans with olive oil, while others, like ciabatta, are often baked directly on the oven grill. At Panificio Italiano, we combine time-honoured Italian artisan breadmaking techniques with modern technology to ensure consistent, high-quality results for our customers.

Why Choose Italian Artisan Bread?

While both French and Italian breads have their benefits, we’d be the first to say that Italian bread products offer unique advantages for businesses in the hospitality industry.

In our experience, Italian breads can complement a broader range of dishes at different mealtimes. Many of our customers find that Italian bread rolls elevate their in-house speciality sandwiches, while others prefer the distinct flavour of focaccia being served alongside their signature main courses. The diversity of Italian bread types allows for creative menu planning for our customers too, and many have espoused this.

What’s more – and this isn’t to discredit the popularity of French food – Italian cuisine is globally renowned, making authentic Italian bread a sought-after addition to many menus.

A Wholesale Artisan Italian Bakery You Can Rely On

At Panificio Italiano, we’re proud to bring the rich tradition of Italian breadmaking to businesses across Berkshire and beyond. Our artisanal approach combines traditional breadmaking techniques from generations past with innovative modern technology to ensure each loaf, roll, bloomer or sub we produce meets the highest standards of quality and authenticity.

Whether you’re a high-end restaurant looking for the perfect focaccia to complement your antipasti, or a café seeking authentic ciabatta for gourmet sandwiches, Panificio Italiano is your trusted partner in Italian artisan bread. See firsthand the difference that true Italian craftsmanship can make to your menu. 

Contact us today to explore our range of wholesale Italian bread products and how we can make a difference to your hospitality business today.

Author: artemis
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