Autumn on a plate
Schiacciata – a variation of the Italian grape focaccia
There are some foods that you only need to eat once and you fall in love with them forever. I’m sure you know the feeling. It’s like you’re suddenly having an epiphany. And then you think: oh, but it is so simple, how didn’t I think about it before?
I first had schiacciata about two years ago, during a holiday in Tuscany. And I thought about it every single day of autumn ever since. During this month, I’ve been buying grapes every weekend to make it. But I always got to eat the grapes before even starting to look for a recipe. Until yesterday. Yesterday I found these weird Dew Drop grapes at the shop, so bought them especially for the schiacciata. Got my hands on some beautiful fresh oregano, so I thought it would make a good pair with the grapes.
I can still vividly remember that schiacciata that I ate near Florence. It did not had any herbs, but it was filled with small, round, flavourful, juicy grapes. It was just a little bit sweet too. And it was served warm, on the porch of a beautiful holiday villa somewhere on the rolling hills of Mugello. As I ate it, the grapes were bursting into my mouth and the grape juice escaping from the slices of schiacciata was tinting my fingers. I felt like I was a child again, and wished that holiday would never end.
Schiacciata with dew drop grapes
During my research for this recipe, I found two versions of the schiacciata. The most popular version is a simple focaccia topped with grapes and herbs. But apparently this is just a focaccia, and nit the ‘traditional’ tuscan schiacciata. The traditional version is sweeter. And it’s actually made of two layers of sweet focaccia dough, one on top of the other, and both topped with plenty of grapes and sugar, but no herbs. A little bit confusing – as with most of the Italian regional recipes, as each household would have its own variation of the same recipe. So I decided to make my schiacciata a sort of mix between the two variations. So I made a sweet focaccia dough, and baked it in one layer, with grapes, sugar and herbs on top. It wasn’t overly sweet – which I liked, as it gave way for the sugars in the grapes to take center stage. I served it warm, with a big dollop of creme fraiche on the side.
- 750 g strong white flour
- 25 g wholemeal spelt flour
- 50 g caster sugar
- 630 ml lukewarm water
- 20 ml olive oil
- 1 tsp honey
- 7 g instant yeast
- 300 g black grapes (I used Dew Drop grapes)
- fresh herbs (oregano/rosemary)
- extra olive oil
- Preheat the oven at 180C.
- In a small bowl, mix the yeast with 25 ml of the water, a tablespoon of flour and the yeast. Cover with cling film and let it rest for 10 minutes. It should double in size and start to foam.
- Add the rest of the white flour and the spelt flour into the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the yeast mix and start mixing at low speed, adding the water gradually. If the flour is good, it should absorb all the water. Continue mixing at medium/high speed for about 5 minutes, then add the sugar and continue mixing for another 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and silky. Add the olive oil gradually and finish the mixing process. The dough will be quite wet, but it should come together nicely and the high hydration will create that beautiful open crumb in the final product.
- Transfer the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Allow it to rise until at least double in size (about 1 hour, depending on the temperature of the room).
- Meanwhile wash and tap dry the grapes.
- Prepare 2 trays, by lightly covering them with olive oil.
- Put some olive oil on your working surface, tip the dough and divide it in two. Gently press each piece of the dough, then use your whole palm to lightly press the dough on the oiled surface until it reaches the size of the tray. Move the dough into the ray and - again - lightly press it towards the edges of the tray. Add the grapes and gently push them into the dough. Allow the dough to rise again for at least 20 minutes, then - again - gently push the grapes inside the dough. Add the oregano and sprinkle an even layer of caster sugar on top.
- Bake at 180C (fan) for 25-30 minutes.
- Serve warm, with creme fraiche on the side.