Sometimes I’d purchase a loaf of the traditional pane toscano, the unsalted Tuscan bread to pair with dinner. Other times I’d stop in for a slice of their pizza as an afternoon snack. But most often it was to get some of their crispy, saltyschiacciata flatbread.
To say which of their breads was my favorite is tough but my favorite time of year? Fall when the last of the grape harvest grapes would be used to make schiacciata all'uva (pronounced "ski-ah-cha-tah ahl ooh-vah") or sweet-savory grape focaccia. Though I no longer live in Florence, this is a recipe I make every Fall even here in California when there are all sorts of grapes from flame to Concord available at the farmers markets.
Schiacciatais the Tuscan version of focaccia that is found all over the central regions of Italy. Unlike the better-known focaccia you get in Genoa, this version is often thinner and ends up a bit more crunchy than doughy. The difference from the Genoa style focaccia? It comes down to the technique. The term schiacciata means "squashed" or "pressed," so, when you make the Tuscan version of ;focaccia, you do just that by pressing the dough down with your fingers.
The simplest, most common version is topped with olive oil and eaten as is or sliced up for sandwiches. Some versions have some rosemary on top and other versions are sweet-savory take on the traditional schiacciata like this one make with grapes. The sweet-savory variations are seasonal and less common and another version we like is made with figs.
During the Fall harvest, the last of the wine grapes were traditionally used to make schiacciata all’uva. Translating to “smashed bread with grapes” this focaccia is a twist on the classic unsalted Tuscan focaccia known as schiacciata.
Unlike the thin, single layered traditional schiacciata, this version is made by making a double-layer of bread with grapes sandwiched between the layers and scattered across the top. The result is a grape-studded bread with a sweet-savory jammy flavor that screams Fall.
Traditional schiacciata all'uva is a sweet-savory focaccia made with nothing more than grapes, olive oil, and sugar. And, in Italy, this is often made with an unsalted dough (as is traditional in so many breads throughout the region) and with grapes that have seeds in them (locals like the crunch the seeds provide).
Our recipe adds in salt because we really believe it provides a more complex flavor and we say try it once with grapes that are seeds in to see if you do or don’t like that style. Also we top it with some fresh rosemary and a bit of flaky sea salt because we think it really helps amp up the final flavor.
In Tuscany this bread was traditionally made as a means to use up leftover grapes from harvest. Over time the go-to grapes to make it were the naturally sweet and fragrant Canaiola. These grapes are pretty much impossible to find in the United States outside of a winery but, luckily, there are a couple alternatives.
Most versions of this recipe will suggest you use Concord grapes, which are perfect for their small size, jammy flavor, and their water ratio. But they can only be found a few weeks out of the year and, even then, are hard to find.
Another option we’ve found works great are the small grapes known as Champagne grapes, which we come across at our gourmet grocer. And, finally, you can use red seedless Flame grapes as we’ve done here but you want to go for the smallest you can find. We’d suggest you steer clear of bigger grapes like Globes that have so much moisture that they tend to make the bread too wet and make it hard for it to properly bake.
Or, as Emiko suggests, you could even use fresh blueberries for what we imagine would be a delicious (if untraditional) twist.
If you’ve made our Genoa style focaccia, you’ll notice that there are some similarities here when it comes to technique. Both require time and patience, but, when it comes to technique, it’s really quite simple to make. Even so a few key tips will help make this focaccia a success every time:
So, here’s the thing. In Italy, you’d eat this as is and it is delicious on its own. However, through the years, I’ve served it with all sorts of things including cut up into small squares as part of a cheeseboard (it’s delicious with blue cheese or goat cheese), served it with curls of prosciutto on top to up the sweet-savory contrast, and I’ve even topped it with a scoop of ice cream drizzled with olive oil for dessert!
Okay, now it's time to stock up your panty with all the Italian essential ingredients, then try your hand at baking this and then share your creation with us by tagging @saltandwind and #swsociety on social!
or all purpose flour
divided plus more for garnish
or Champagne grapes or blueberries
Make The Schiacciata Dough: Stir together the 1 teaspoon of yeast and 1/2 cup of the warm water and set it aside until it's starting to bubble, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the 3 1/2 cups of flour and the 1 cup of milk in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until a shaggy dough forms, stopping a few times to scrape down the inside of the bowl to incorporate any dry flour.
Stop the mixer, add in the yeast and water mixture, and mix on low speed until the dough is evenly hydrated and moistened. Add the optional 1/2 teaspoon salt, if using, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, one tablespoon at a time.
Mix on medium speed until the mixture comes together as a dough (when you add the oil it will look like it isn't going to combine with the dough but just let the mixer keep going -- it will all mix in!). Continue to mix on medium speed until the dough is smooth and does not stick to the sides of the bowl, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Remove the dough to a barely floured clean countertop and bring it together in a ball. Meanwhile, add a drizzle of oil to a large mixing bowl, add the dough and turn it to coat in the oil, then cover it with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 8 to 48 hours.
To help you confirm how much the dough has risen, put a piece of tape on the outside of the bowl at the approximate height of the dough at the start of the rise. Once it has doubled in size you can start to form the focaccia
Shape The Schiacciata Bread: Once you are ready to bake the focaccia, bring it out of the refrigerator and let it sit in a warm place until you can work with it, at least 15 minutes.
Heat the oven to 450°F, arrange a rack in the middle, and, place a baking stone, pizza stone, or two nested baking sheets on the rack (these will help make the bottom crust nice and golden brown!).
Meanwhile, shape the focaccia by dividing the dough in two equal parts. Brush a little extra (not the measured!) olive oil onto a 13-by-9-inch rimmed baking sheet or glass baking pan.
Take one piece of the dough and, with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll it into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Place the dough in the baking sheet and push it into the corners then use your three middle fingers on each hand to create dimples in the dough (you should make indentations that go about 2/3 down but don't hit the bottom of the pan and don't tear the dough).
Scatter half of the grapes on the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border on all sides. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the sugar then top with a generous pinch of the flaky sea said.
Repeat that to create a second layer and use up the remaining dough, grapes, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons olive oil.
To Bake The Schiacciata: Place the focaccia in the oven on the baking stone or baking sheets, reduce the oven temperature to 425°F, and bake 35 to 40 minutes, turning halfway through baking.
Once the focaccia is golden brown on the top and bottom (it should have a minimum internal temperature of 190°F), remove it from the oven and set it aside to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
Remove the focaccia from the pan and place it on a cooling rack set inside a baking sheet to cool. Use a pastry brush to add a drizzle more of oil then scatter the leaves of a few sprigs of rosemary and a large pinch of flaky sea salt over the top. Serve while the schiacciata is warm or at room temperature.
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