Sunday, 24 July 2011

The grape and the good

This weekend it was Peg's party, and since she'd previously tried and loved the Schiacciata con l'Uva (Tuscan Flatbread with Grapes), she asked me to make some for her.

The recipe is from Le Ricette di Giuliana, from Fattoria La Vialla. The whole book is a complete treasure trove of wonderful fresh-looking recipes that you can almost taste as you view the pictures. As a bonus, many of the recipes are vegetarian-friendly. The writing can take a bit of working out as it's presented in a facsimile of Italian script, but it's well worth the effort.

The grape bread requires a sweetened, olive oil dough, which you work to an elastic state then leave to rest and rise for an hour or so. Turning it out onto your surface, you roll it out twice as long as your baking tray, then lie it across the greased-with-olive-oil tray with the extra bits overlapping to the left and right. Then you take your red grapes and press them into the dough lying on the baking tray. Don't be tempted to put too many in, as it will turn everything to pink mush. You sprinkle on a couple of tablespoons of sugar on top of them (I like to use demerara) and then fold the sides over the top, giving you a strange lumpy looking surface into which you press more grapes, and on which you sprinkle more sugar. The recipe calls for a few tablespoons of olive oil to be added to each layer too, but I found that I preferred the texture of the finished bread much better without.

Cooked grapes are delish - who'd have thought it? The cooking brings out a lovely sweetness, along with a softening in texture and pretty little puddles of escaped juice in each grape's nestling spot. Whenever I've shared this bread with people, it's been incredibly popular, and disappears in no time. The texture of the bread is soft and moist, the grapes are little juicy surprises, and the crunch of sugar on top is just perfect. I can't count up how many times I've made this since I got this cookery book only two or three months ago - and I know I'm going to make it countless more times.

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