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I've made a number of pizza's and coca's lately and I thought about making a focaccia... When reading about coca, focaccia was mentioned, and when reading about focaccia, pizza was mentioned.

I have an excellent book on Italian cooking, it explains that focaccia is unleavened (no yeast) because of the climate. However, the wikipedia states that it does contain yeast...

The pizza I make has yeast and some olive oil. The coca has baking powder and lots of oil, and the focaccia also has lots of oil, but no yeast nor baking powder.

But I've seen recipes with coca's with yeast and less oil (=pizza recipe)...

So, is there a clear definition or is it just the name you care to use?

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  • It seems that nothing is set in stone when it comes to bread names. Certainly most foccacia recipes I've seen contain yeast. May 11, 2012 at 8:13
  • Your book says foccacias have no added yeast. May it add "lievito naturale" or sourdough?
    – J.A.I.L.
    Nov 4, 2012 at 2:19
  • @J.A.I.L. I think, from the answers, that it really doesn't matter much. But, my book says no yeast in any form. Nov 4, 2012 at 9:04

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As you know, focaccia and pizza are Italian dishes, and coca is Catalonian (a region at Spain's northeast). They all have toppings, and similar doughs (with wheat flour and yeast).

Classical focaccias:

  • Are thicker than [Italian] pizzas (about 3˜4 cm (1.2˜1.6 in) thick)
  • Have rectangular shape
  • Have herbs, salt and olive oil as topping
  • Are baked for about 20 minutes.

Italian pizzas:

  • Are thin (less than 5 mm (0.2 in)) except their outer part
  • Are round (see notes below)
  • Have many different toppings, almost always including cheese, and most of the times tomato sauce or whole tomato
  • Are baked for about 90 seconds (this is very important for italian pizzas)

Cocas:

  • Can be as thick as focaccias or as pizzas, usually depending on the topping.
  • Are either rectangular like focaccias, or really long shaped like these ones from Barcelona.
  • Can be either sweet or salty.
  • Are baked for 30 to 45 minutes (aprox) (which is, in my opinion, their biggest distinction with pizzas)

Notes: I know there are some pizzas in America that do not fit in the description I gave. But I understand your question is focusing on Italian pizzas.

Also, sure there are pizza al taglio in italy, but despite having different shapes and cooking time than pizza pizza, they share the same Italian spirit, and can be noticed different different to cocas.

You can make the three of them with natural yeasts, like sourdough/lievito naturale/massa mare, but certainly not with chemical rising agents.

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First of all is coca a Spanish dish with huge variety. A coca can just as well be made of thin yeast dough with savory topping (similar to an Italian pizza but not necessarily with cheese) as well as sponge-cake-like (leavened just with the beaten eggs or with baking soda) with sweet topping.

Foccacia also comes in many varieties, but typical foccacia is made of yeast dough, about one inch thick, which is sprinkled with olive oil and herbs before baking. Foccacia can also be made thinner and without yeast, but that makes a much crispier bread. It may be topped with other ingredients, but does not have to and if it is topped, it is mostly only a simple topping like olives, onions or cheese. It is usually not eaten alone, but as a side dish. Here is a typical foccacia, topped with black olives.

Foccacia

Pizza dough is very similar to foccacia, but in Italy, a pizza is always much thinner. The thick American style pizza is not common in Italy. Except for the thickness, the difference between foccacia and pizza is much more in the topping. A pizza is almost always topped with at least tomatoes or tomato sauce and cheese and mostly with other savory ingredients.

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  • Interesting answer. The dough can be the same for the three types? May 11, 2012 at 13:06
  • @BaffledCook: Yes, more or less. May 11, 2012 at 18:39
  • Yes, let's let the Italians decide what a pizza is and the Spanish, a coca. 'American' should preface anything that doesn't pass -then I would be pleased!
    – Pat Sommer
    May 14, 2012 at 2:24
  • Two other major differences between focaccia and pizza is that focaccia is made with much more oil (always extra virgin olive oil) than pizza; also, since focaccia have to grow thicker, a stronger flour is used or manitoba can be added.
    – ccalboni
    Aug 28, 2012 at 15:01
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In some regions, focaccia is referred to as pizza, and vice versa. Then focaccia comes in several forms. There's the traditional focaccia, which is a yeast dough, there is focaccia di recco (or al formaggio) which consists of a non yeast dough but is rolled out very flat and filled with prescinseûa, a ligurian fresh cheese) and there is a double baked focaccia, which is a baking powder dough. I would advise the books of Fred Plotkin, and especially this one: http://www.amazon.com/Recipes-Paradise-Life-Italian-Riviera/dp/0316710717/ref=la_B0034P0YQI_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1351975671&sr=1-10 for more information and classic recipies

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A line that I like between pizza and focaccia is the following. Have a bulk fermentation, make the pieces, let them rest and spread them on your favorite surface (dish, pizza peel etc...). Now, add some topping or not. If you bake it right away call it pizza. If you let it rest more call it focaccia. No matter the shape, the presence of tomato or mozzarella, etc.

Examples: in Rome a "pizza bianca" is done exactly like this. Spread, dimpled, dressed with oil and baked right away either in a dish or on the oven surface directly. Many examples of focaccia rest some more time before baking.

Non-example: The "focaccia barese", that some bake right after topping, should be a pizza. But this recipe is not codified in the first place so good luck trying to explain this to an old granma in Bari Vecchia :)

In general, the naming in Italian cuisine is not consistent at all and there are plenty of situations like this or like the Boston cream pie that should be technically a cake.

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