Focaccia Vs. Fougasse: What’s The Difference?

Focaccia Vs. Fougasse

Ever find yourself standing in the bread aisle wondering, “What exactly is the difference between focaccia and fougasse?” I know I’ve been there more times than I’d care to admit. On the surface, they seem so similar—they’re both flatbreads you find at the bakery topped with olive oil and herbs. But are they really just different names for the same thing?

As an amateur bread baker with a serious soft spot for these olive oil crackers, I was determined to get to the bottom of this focaccia vs. fougasse feud once and for all. So I did some experimenting in the kitchen and dug into the histories of these Mediterranean classics. What I found may surprise you, and it just might change the way you choose between the two next grocery trips. Keep reading to get the inside scoop on what truly sets these babies apart!

What is Focaccia?

Let’s start with focaccia, the better-known of the two on this side of the pond. While its ingredients are pretty basic—just flour, water, salt, and olive oil—Focaccia’s true magic lies in its community roots in the coastal city of Genoa.

Back in medieval times, focaccia was a lifeline for the working-class folk of the Italian port. Being simple, affordable, and filling, it fueled the laborers as they loaded and unloaded ships all day down at the docks. Legend has it the first bakers shaped their dough flat so people could easily transport multiples stacked in a cloth.

Over the centuries, focaccia has become synonymous with Genovese street culture. It was the perfect grab-and-go breakfast on the run. Vendors would call out “focaccia col formaggio!” to advertise their cheesy-topped rounds hot out of the wood-fired oven. Even today, that distinctive sizzling sound takes me right back to wandering the alleys of old Genoa.

While the basic focaccia recipe has stood the test of time, each region puts its own spin on it. In Liguria, you’ll find thicker discs topped with fresh herbs. Further south in Sicily, it takes on a triangular pizza-like form with tomatoes and olives. In Naples, focaccia is more like a fluffier flatbread you’ll spot at local cafes every morning.

No matter the local variant, one thing remains: the signature dimples imparted by the baker’s fingers before baking. Some say these indentations let steam escape for a lighter crumb. But I think they’re really there as a nod to tradition, mimicking the dockworkers’ trademark fingerprints left behind on early batches. That simple touch brings a smile to this focaccia fan’s face every time.

What is Fougasse?

While focaccia may be a familiar sight in Italian delis stateside, its lesser-known cousin fougasse deserves just as much acclaim. Hailing from Provence in the south of France, this rustic bread is said to have first emerged in the kitchens of the Romanesquery during the 15th century.

Much like the farmers who tilled the sun-soaked fields of lavender and olives, fougasse was a humble staple that made excellent use of local ingredients. Its simple dough incorporated just flour, water, and olive oil, with some versions sweetened further with a touch of sugar. Depending on the season, you may also find crumbs of Parmesan or rosemary baked right in.

Where fougasse truly stands out is its signature lacy design achieved through diagonal slashes in the dough. Some trace this technique as a nod to harvested wheat shafts drying in the fields. But I like to imagine impatient kids letting their creative spirits run wild with kitchen tools long before play-doh was invented. Whatever the inspiration, the results yield an utterly picturesque round or freeform shape bound to brighten up any breadbasket.

Originally, fougasse was exclusively an oven-baked bread, exploiting the intense radiant heat of traditional masonry bakehouses to crisp every crevice to perfection. Even today, sometunnel-like specialty pizza ovens called Fours continue to impart that crackly crunch so prized by local epicures. As with focaccia before it, fougasse took on regional tweaks wherever it roamed, sometimes flavored further with salty anchovies along the coast.

No matter how you cut it, one bite of fougasse transports me straight to the lavender-scented backroads of Provence every single time. Its rustic beauty and balance of sweet-savory flavors evoke the sun-soaked soul of its homeland better than any book or postcard ever could.

Focaccia vs. Fougasse

With our crash course on the histories behind focaccia and fougasse complete, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of their core ingredients, characteristics, and crafting techniques. Understanding what goes into these beauties on a molecular level will bring your home bakes to a whole new level, I promise.


Let’s start with focaccia. At its heart, its dough calls for just four humble components: flour, water, salt, and olive oil. The flour acts as a structural scaffold, absorbing the hydration from the water and developing the gluten strands that give bread its chew.

Salt not only enhances flavor but also regulates yeast activity during proving. And olive oil? Well, that’s where things get really magical. Its fats coat the gluten network, hindering excessive structure building for a supremely soft and airy crumb. Gotta love how a little grease makes everything better!

Crafting Techniques

When it comes to mixing and kneading focaccia dough, go for a hydration level on the higher side. This leads to more air pockets getting trapped during rising and baking, yielding an even airier final product. Remember to use bench flour liberally, though, as the oil adds slipperiness that can make over-kneading a risk otherwise.

With fougasse, the basic ingredients are identical. But bakers in Provence tend to go easier on the olive oil compared to their Genovese neighbors, avoiding a dough that’s too slack to retain the symbolic diagonal cuts. Its character also comes through with the addition of sugar, proving once more that a hint of sweetness elevates even the simplest of things.


Visually, focaccia remains simple and unfussy, with its round or oval shape resembling a slightly raised pizza base. Fougasse elevates the design with its distinctive cutouts that can resemble anything from tree branches to woven baskets, depending on the baker’s skill. Its patterns are a signature part of the fougasse that dresses up bakery shelves.

Between their airy versus hearty crumb and plain versus intricate silhouettes, focaccia and fougasse represent two opposing ends of the flatbread spectrum for both taste and appearance. Their textural contrasts help explain why one might reach for one over the other depending on the intended use.

Topping Techniques

The toppings are where focaccia and fougasse really show their personalities.

Focaccia is best known for its liberal use of high-quality extra virgin olive oil brushed or sprinkled over the risen dough. Herbs like rosemary are a classic pairing, along with mixes of veggies, cheeses, or meats.

More minimalist in approach, fougasse rarely contains toppings baked directly into the bread. Herbs may find their way in but the criss-crossed dough delivers the starring role.

Flavor Profiles

When it comes to highlighting flavors, focaccia and fougasse each have their own culinary strengths. Focaccia’s high moisture content soaks up pure olive oil exceptionally well, allowing each bite to deliver a rich, rounded olive flavor. The lighter texture also lets subtle fresh herb accents like rosemary or thyme really shine through.

At its simplest, a quality focaccia needs only the best extra virgin olive oil, salt, and herbs to taste profoundly flavorful. This simplicity keeps the spotlight on showcasing top ingredients. When baking focaccia at home, I find letting the natural components speak for themselves is key.

Fougasse’s denseness instead suits hearty mix-ins that can stand up to its substantial chew. Savory mix-ins like olives, sun-dried tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, or soft herbs de Provence complement its complex flavor profile. As its cut-out contours create nooks and crannies, bites of fougasse treat your palate to intermittent texture contrasts.

For these reasons, I find focaccia satisfies mild appetites looking to enjoy quality oils, while fougasse’s savory depth works well alongside stewy meals or when you want a robust taste with every bite. Their flavor profiles come down to letting either the best ingredients shine alone or allowing mix-ins to shine together in harmony.


When it comes to focaccia, a heavy pan is your new best friend. Place the dimpled rounds onto a well-oiled sheet and allow that second rise, keeping a close eye out for puffiness. Then it’s showtime: bake at high heat to bring out its characteristic crunchy chew.

Resist the urge to skip the steaming phase either. Place a baking sheet below to generate moisture that renders focaccia soft and fluffy without compromising its crust. A sprinkle of coarse sea salt mid-bake adds one more layer of lip-smacking loveliness too.

As for our dear fougasse, a baker’s stone or bed of tiles is recommended to really bring out its signature snap. Whether baking solo slices or a whole round loaf, place your designs directly on the hot surface.

The intense radiant heat will hug each nook and cranny, audibly crackling as sugars caramelize and gluten browns to perfection. Leave space between each shape to allow even expansion without deflating delicate cuts.

With some practice, you’ll be harassing home kitchens with the blessed aromas of hours-old bread in no time.


Taking a bite of a fresh focaccia is like a big, warm hug for your tastebuds. That crumb just absolutely melts in your mouth – soft and tender as can be. It’s hard not to just stuff piece after piece into your face like you’ve never eaten before! It’s totally carbs and salt and all things delicious.

Don’t get me wrong, the outside crust is crispy and toothy, just like you’d expect from an oven spring star. But bite straight through to the middle, and it’s pillowy bliss, ready to soak up any topping without getting soggy or wet. The olive oil ensures each morsel goes down like butter, if you catch my drift.

Now fougasse? This rascal demands some real chewer power, let me tell ya. The crust is downright impenetrable, rewarding those willing to work for it with a crunchy snapping sensation on each tug and tear. But, oh man, is it worth the effort?

Between those sturdy shards lie layers of flaky, almost croissant-like textures, begging to shatter with each bite. And don’t even get me started on how well those pockets soak up stuff like olives or anchovies without compromising structure. It’s like eating a boujee chip!

Pairing with Other Dishes

Focaccia’s soft, fleecy nature lends itself well to sandwich fare—think panini bursting at the seams with juicy tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. Or try a riff on bruschetta using thick slabs as the delivery system for chopped veggies and olives tossed in garlic-infused oil. There’s no need to bother with chips when you’ve got carbonara-topped focaccia squares!

As appetizers go, it’s hard to beat ripping off golf ball-sized morsels and dunking them in a bowl of olive tapenade or artichoke spread. For somewhere between bread and pizza, focaccia stuns with charge-heavy toppings like pepperoni and hot peppers. And let’s not forget how it soaks up the last of Sunday sauce like nobody’s business!

Meanwhile, fougasse makes the ultimate accompaniment, almost like a vehicle for other ingredients to shine. Slice one open and stuff with whipped goat cheese, arugula, and ham for portable perfection. Or layer with whipped ricotta, lemon zest, and almonds for savory muffin bliss on the go. While little fougasse knots hold their own, stuffed with chicken salad, tuna, or even barbecue pulled pork.

With its lighter texture, fougasse is also ideal for dipping in olive oil and balsamic or grabbing alongside charcuterie and cheese platters. The crunch complements dishes from the Provence region, like ratatouille and bouillabaisse, beautifully.


Is one bread healthier than the other?

Both focaccia and fougasse can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. As neither contains added sugars nor unhealthy fats, moderation is key to reaping benefits without overindulging calories. Using whole-grain flours and avoiding excess toppings boosts nutrition.

Can focaccia and fougasse doughs be interchanged in recipes?

While the basic dough ingredients are similar, the hydration levels and techniques are tailored to each bread’s structure. Swapping doughs could compromise qualities like texture, rise, and shape. Stick to recipes made for each specialty’s traits.

How long will leftover focaccia or fougasse stay fresh?

Kept in an airtight container or plastic bag, leftover slices will maintain quality for 3–4 days at room temperature or 5-7 days in the refrigerator. Freezing dough or baked bread extends usability to 1-2 months.

Can I freeze focaccia or fougasse?

Yes, both focaccia and fougasse can be frozen for later consumption. Ensure they are properly wrapped to maintain freshness and texture.

Do they freeze well unbaked?

Yes, unbaked focaccia and fougasse dough hold up well in the freezer for future use. Shape as desired, then wrap tightly in plastic or foil and freeze for 1-2 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before rising and baking according to the recipe instructions.

Can I freeze dough or baked bread?

Yes, dough can be frozen for 1 month before baking. Baked bread freezes well whole or sliced for reheating.

What’s the best way to reheat day-old bread?

For a soft, almost freshly-baked texture, place torn or sliced pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 5-8 minutes, watching closely, until lightly golden. You can also revive in a toaster oven or directly under the broiler for 30-second bursts.

What’s the best way to reheat day-old focaccia or fougasse?

A few options: Place slices directly on the oven rack at 350°F for 5-7 minutes; broil 30 seconds per side; use a panini press or cast iron grill pan; or microwave 10-15 seconds per slice. Brush or mist with olive oil first for moisture.

Can other herbs besides rosemary be used in focaccia?

Absolutely! Focaccia is very customizable. Popular additions include dried oregano, thyme, parsley, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, onions, or soft herbs like basil. Let your taste buds guide the combinations.

Which pairs better with soup: focaccia or fougasse?

Focaccia’s soft airiness soaks up broth particularly well, making it the optimal soup bread.

Can I make focaccia or fougasse from scratch?

Absolutely! Both require only a few common ingredients and minimal rising or kneeding time. Search online for basic recipes, which are very achievable even for novice bakers. Play with add-ins like olives or rosemary to make the breads your own.

How long does it take to make focaccia or fougasse from scratch?

The preparation time for both breads can vary, but on average, it takes around 2–3 hours, including rising and baking time.

Can I make gluten-free versions of focaccia and fougasse?

Yes, there are gluten-free recipes available for both breads. Look for alternative flours, such as rice flour or almond flour, to create a gluten-free version.

Are there any vegan options for focaccia and fougasse?

Yes, it is possible to make vegan versions of both breads using plant-based ingredients such as vegan butter or olive oil and suitable substitutes for dairy products.

Can you make low-carb versions?

Yes, both can be made with nut and seed flours instead of wheat to reduce carbs.


As you can see, while focaccia and fougasse may resemble each other at first glance, their differences span texture, technique, and flavor application. Focaccia specializes in allowing premium ingredients like olive oil to shine through its airy crumb. Meanwhile, fougasse’s substantial density acts as a flavorful vehicle for hearty mix-ins of all kinds.

With such divergent qualities, it’s clear why both have stood the test of time as regional favorites across their homelands of Italy and France, respectively. For lovers of bread, appreciating their nuanced variances helps enhance the enjoyment of each flatbread to its fullest. So whether you’re focused on simple excellence or combinations of robust tastes, considering focaccia vs. fougasse makes for an informed choice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like