As I’ve mentioned before, wine is an important part of French cuisine. Now, bread is just as important, maybe even more so. Traditionally in France, bread is consumed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is so essential for meals that people would hazard heavy rain, strong winds, or even flood just to visit the local boulangerie for some baguettes. But baguettes are not the only kind of bread you can find in France. Now here are eight types of French bread that have become popular around the world today.
Now, who doesn’t know this world famous bread? Despite its popularity, the baguette is considered one of the simple breads because traditionally it is made of only flour, salt, yeast, and water. It is also often baked and consumed in the same day because it does not have preservatives and would go stale the next day. The baguette is closely linked to French cuisine. It is even synonymous with the term “French bread” in some countries. And it can be used to accompany almost any French dish or any kind of French cheese. Yes, it may be a simple bread but it is one of the most versatile ones out there.
2. Pain de Campagne
Pain de campagne literally means “country bread” in French. Typically, it is a large round or rectangular bread made with natural leavening, salt, water, and a mixture of white, rye, and/or whole wheat flour. It tastes a tad like the common sourdough, but less sour. This bread could be as heavy as four to twelve pounds and has a thick crust, which makes it last longer than the baguette.
Ficelle means “string” in French. It is a typical French bread and actually has the same ingredients as the baguette. The only difference between the two breads is that the baguette usually measures up to two inches in diameter while the ficelle is thinner, usually one inch in diameter. Most of the time the two have the same length but some boulangeries bake ficelles much shorter than baguettes. It is advisable to consume ficelle fresh from the oven as its crust dries up faster than the baguette because it’s much smaller in diameter.
Bâtard is made with the same dough as the baguette. Just like ficelle, its name has more to do with its shape rather than its ingredients or the process with which it is baked. You see, the word bâtard in French means “bastard”. In fact, it is called the “bastard baguette” by some. It is called that because it is considered an inferior version of a baguette. Compared to the baguette, bâtard is bigger in diameter but shorter in length. Now, the bâtard may be inferior for some strict traditionalists but some people actually prefer this to the baguette since it has a bigger diameter, which makes it perfect for those lovely turkey sandwiches.
5. Pain de mie
This type of French bread is not usually found fresh in boulangeries. It is because pain de mie is a loaf of sliced white bread, similar to the white cream breads in the U.S. Its name literally means “the interior of bread”, which suggests the absence of a hard shell or crust. It is made with flour, milk, yeast, salt, butter, and sugar. It is sweeter than most French breads and is often bought already packed. It is the most popular bread for sandwiches and can be great for making toasts.
Fougasse is a flat rectangular bread that is quite similar to the Italian bread focaccia. It is believed to have been developed centuries ago to test the temperature of stone ovens. In France, it is most often associated with the Provence region where it is believed to be a speciality. The main ingredients of fougasse are flour, milk, yeast, water, olive oil, and various herbs. Sometimes bakers include other things inside the dough such as cheese, meat, or fruits. This is done by folding the dough over the fillings. Then, the dough is shaped into a tree, a leaf, or a wheat stalk before it is put in the oven. Kind of cute, isn’t it?
Now, who hasn’t heard this delicious sweet bread? Anyone who has visited a cafe knows this one. Why? Well, because croissants are the perfect bread to munch over a yummy cup of cappuccino or mocha latte, that’s why. Actually, a croissant is considered a pastry-bread hybrid. Its dough is made with yeast, milk, flour, salt, sugar, butter, water, and egg. And of course, a croissant would not be complete without its filling. Like in fougasse, fillings can be varied. The most common are chocolate, almonds, cheese, ham, and raisins. In France, though, it is often baked with almond fillings or none at all.
Brioche is another sweet French bread that is fast becoming popular today. Like croissant, its dough is made with flour, milk, yeast, salt, butter, eggs, and some sugar. It is often baked in these fluted round flared tin molds and is haped by making two dough balls, with one dough smaller than the other. The smaller dough ball is placed on top of the bigger dough ball before it is glazed with egg and sprinkled with a bit of sugar. Sometimes it is baked with fruit filling or topped with pate or other meats. Absolutely delicious!
Is your favorite bread in the list? If it isn’t, what is your favorite French bread? How do you eat them? Favorite or not, French breads are some of the most delicious baked goods in the world and anyone who loves to eat should really try them.