Saturday, 30 July 2011

La Schiacciata con l'Uva (flatbread with grapes)

A big thank you to Fattoria La Vialla, who have kindly agreed to my reproducing the recipe from Le Ricette di Giuliana here.

La Schiacciata con l'Uva

Ingredients (for 6 to 8 people)

1 kg fresh, large and firm red grapes (ideally!)
500g flour
20g fresh beer yeast (or 1 tsp. quick dried yeast)
9 tbs extra virgin olive oil
8 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt

In a mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in a little tepid water (about 1/2 glass) and, stirring continually, add the sieved flour a little at a time, adding more tepid water (about 1 glass), 4 tablespoons of oil, 4 of sugar and the teaspoon of salt (if you use quick dried yeast, then just mix it in with the sieved flour). Knead the dough well after having transferred it to the floured table; it should become soft and elastic. Leave it to rise for about an hour in a warm, sheltered place, covered with a teacloth.

To check if the dough has risen, press the dough your finger: if it doesn't leave a dent, then it still needs to rise a little bit more, if it forms a permanent mark, almost a hole, then it is ready. After this time, on the lightly floured working surface, knead the dough a little more and roll it out with the rolling pin into a fairly thin, more or less rectangular sheet, almost double the size of the baking tray. Grease a rectangular baking tray (measuring about 25cm x 35 cm) with a tablespoon of oil and line with the dough, allowing the excess to hang over the edges of the tray. Spread over it three quarters of the destalked, washed and dried grapes and then sprinkle over the two tablespoons of sugar and two of oil. Fold the excess dough over the top of the grapes, in such a way that they are almost completely covered.

Scatter over the top the remaining grapes, pushing them down into the dough a little with the tips of your fingers and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 of oil. Bake the schiacciata in the oven preheated to 180°C for 20-25 minutes, then lower the temperature to 150° and bake for at least another 15 minutes. If it should begin to brown too much, cover it with a sheet of aluminium foil until it has finished cooking. Serve the flatbread tepid or especially cold cut into small squares.

This exquisite flatbread is to be found most of all in Florence, although also in Siena and Arezzo, in so many bakeries, ready to eat. It has very old origins: it was prepared with the leftovers of the bread dough and the ripe grapes, at grape harvest time. It is a recipe which is a mix of sweet and savoury, very nutritious and, I would say, "Mediterranean". For perfect results, it is indispensable to use "real" grapes, even if they contain the inconvenience of the seeds; in any case, a version without this "bother" could be to substitute the fresh grapes with raisins (no seeds!) after having soaked them in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes.

The first time I made this, I did it exactly according to the recipe. Subsequently I've done my own thing in a few respects:
  • I found using a whole tablespoon of oil to grease the tray, and extra oil with each layer made the finished bread too oily for my taste, so I use a tiny bit to oil the tray and don't add any after the grapes. I still use it in the dough.

  • I guessed at half a glass being about 100 ml and a glass being 200 ml. This seems to work!

  • I found that I preferred using fewer grapes (maybe 500 or 600 g) so that they were more spaced out in the bread, and using half for the middle and half for the top.

  • I make and work the dough according to the Bertinet method rather than as specified here.

  • I use standard strong white bread flour.

It is desperately satisfying to push the grapes in!

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