Breadmaking became a huge hobby during the pandemic. Many of us enjoyed trying out new recipes and different techniques. As a result, it wasn’t uncommon to stumble upon bread types we had never heard of before or ones we didn’t know much about. For instance, focaccia and schiacciata seem very similar but are different bread variations.
So, what’s the difference between focaccia and schiacciata? Focaccia and schiacciata are both Italian flatbreads that have similar tastes. The key differences are the regions they come from, the time they take to prepare, and their texture.
Below, we’ll cover the basics about each type of bread and dive into what makes them unique.
Where Focaccia and Schiacciata Come From
Focaccia and schiacciata are both flatbreads from Italy. However, they aren’t from the same regions, and Italian food can differ widely between regions.
Focaccia bread originated in Genoa and its surrounding region of Liguria. Genoa is a city in northwest Italy along the coast of the Ligurian Sea and sits south of Milan. Focaccia is the name used outside of Liguria; within the region, it’s called fügassa or classica.
Schiacciata is made in the regions of Tuscany and Umbria. Tuscany borders Liguria and stretches down along the eastern shores of the Ligurian Sea. The rich history of Tuscany and its capital city, Florence, has created a style of cuisine unique to the area. The landlocked region of Umbria borders Tuscany to the southeast.
How Focaccia and Schiacciata Are Made
While the recipes for both types of bread include flour, oil, yeast, and water, the difference is how the bakers prepare them.
To make focaccia, mix the ingredients and knead them for about five minutes. To make authentic focaccia, allow the dough to rise anywhere from 18-48 hours. If you don’t have much time, there are recipes out there that offer a shorter rise time. Once the dough has risen and is in the proper pan, use your fingers to create dimples. Bake the bread for about half an hour, depending on your recipe.
Recipes for schiacciata call for less water, and the kneading time is longer at about 8-10 minutes. However, the total rise time for schiacciata is much less, at about an hour and a half. Like focaccia, once the bread is in the pan, you use your fingertips to dimple the bread. The cooking time is also the same, at about half an hour, depending on your recipe.
The Textures of Focaccia and Schiacciata
Though the taste of the two flatbreads is very similar, the difference in preparation creates contrast in textures. Because focaccia has a longer rise time and more water in the dough, the texture is more spongy, and the bread is taller. Schiacciata, with its shorter rise time and less water, ends up flat and chewy.
When baked to perfection and allowed to proof correctly, the final result will be an open crumb focaccia.
How Focaccia and Schiacciata Are Used
Both focaccia and schiacciata are perfectly delicious on their own, but each region has different ways of altering them.
Focaccia is popular Italian street food. Traditional focaccia is called focaccia Genovese, and people may eat it at all times of the day. Throughout Liguria, you can find focaccia paired with many things like onion, olive, sage, rosemary, tomato, and hazelnut. It’s also popularly used to make sandwiches.
When adding toppings to schiacciata, you can use many of the same toppings as focaccia. Like focaccia, it’s also a popular choice for sandwiches. Because schiacciata is flatter than focaccia, you can also use it as a pizza crust.
Different Variations of Focaccia
While you can top both focaccia and schiacciata with several different ingredients, there are also many variations of focaccia. This isn’t as true with schiacciata.
- Focaccia Di Recco is a type of focaccia topped with cheese. This focaccia has no yeast and therefore is much flatter than traditional focaccia. Focaccia Di Recco is typically topped with crescenza Ligure cheese and is popular in several cities throughout Liguria.
- Focaccia Dolce Sarzanese is a sweet focaccia, and it includes many ingredients that the classic focaccia does not. The recipe for Focaccia Dolce Sarzanese adds in eggs, sugar, candied fruits, raisins, nuts, orange zest, and white wine.
- Farinata Di Ceci is another yeast-less version of focaccia. This recipe substitutes chickpea flour for regular flour.
- Focaccia Verde di Dolceacqua is a focaccia exclusive to the province of Imperia, a province on the western side of Liguria near the Monaco border. Those who studied romance languages know that “verde” means green. This flatbread gets its hue from the addition of marjoram, zucchini, and chard. The bread is baked with rice on top and brushed with olive oil.
When was focaccia invented?
Focaccia bread was invented in the 14th century and was considered to be similar to pizza at the time. In some places, it is still even called pizza bianca or “white pizza”
Ciabatta Vs Focaccia and Schiacciata
Another popular type of Italian bread, ciabatta, is sometimes mixed up with focaccia and schiacciata. While the ingredients are about the same, that’s where the similarities end. Ciabatta is not a flatbread but rather is baked in loaves. The texture is much denser and chewier than focaccia and schiacciata. While focaccia and schiacciata are very versatile, ciabatta is typically only used for sandwiches.
Pizza Bianca Vs Focaccia and Schiacciata
Pizza Bianca is another type of Italian flatbread more similar to schiacciata than focaccia. Like both breads, it is dimpled with your fingertips, but it’s thinner and chewier like schiacciata. Unlike schiacciata, pizza Bianca rises for two hours and is baked on a hot stone. While the name includes “pizza,” you won’t find this bread with any type of sauce, and only rarely cheese. It’s also a popular choice for sandwiches.
Piadina Vs. Focaccia and Schiacciata
Piadina is a flatbread that is like the Italian version of a tortilla. Recipes will either have no leavening agent or have a small amount of baking soda. This bread is cooked on a grill or pan and is often used to make sandwiches.
Italy is known across the world for its fantastic cuisine. The vast array of bread options only speaks to that! With so many options and so many regional favorites, knowing the differences will help you choose the best option.
Focaccia and schiacciata are similar in taste, but the extra rise time of focaccia and extra water in the recipe make it fluffier than the thin, chewy schiacciata. They each hale from a different region of Italy, with their own way of tweaking the recipes, making them even more unique. Now that you know the differences, you can bake and enjoy whichever fits your mood!