I cannot believe that it is the end of October already. Autumn has arrived sneakily with its colours, made a few carpets of leaves here and there, and almost taken them away with it. Halloween is tomorrow and then All Saints will mark a new month. I have always felt that grape is Autumn quintessential ingredient - together with figs, walnuts, and mushrooms.
This sweet bread is one of those things that you need to know where to buy as otherwise it can be alluring at the look but deeply disappointing at the taste. And of course even better if you have a bit of time in your hands and decide to make it at home.
It is true that you can now find grape all year round, like any other fruit and vegetable, regardless of the time; however, I am a seasonal girl and like to eat what's supposed to be in season and ignore for example strawberries in January or as in this case grape in February.
For this recipe you need sweet grape. Black suits better for its pungent flavour but you could try white grape as well and tell me what you thought. I normally use the white one for savoury dishes like chicken or veal.
This "schiacciata" is typical from Florence. It is odd that something so simple can be located so specifically as one would easily think that it can be found anywhere - grape and bread are not so unusual after all.
The Florentine origin can be detected even just from the name itself, schiacciata, that in other parts of Italy is "focaccia". Schiacciata means flattened or squashed, and hence also its colloquial name of ciaccia - it is literally flattened with the fingers leaving typical marks or holes where the grapes get caught. Grape schiacciata is made with two layers of dough sandwiching in between plenty of grapes and sugar. The quicker version is with a single layer and grapes dotted all over the surface which, being reasonably heavy, sink in anyway.
For the bread dough
500gr "00" flour
12gr fresh yest or 14gr dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
For the dressing
8 tbsp olive oil
800gr red grape
The recipe is quite straightforward and will be pretty similar everywhere you look. The following proportions though are from Giallo Zafferano - a site which I find extremely useful especially for regional food!
Wash the grapes and separate them from the stem - English grape doesn't have seeds - the joys of "genetically modified fruit"!
Prepare the dough for the schiacciata; you can either do it the night before or a few hours before baking it.
Dissolve the yeast in a lukewarm water with the sugar so that some bubbles are formed - this means the yeast starts processing. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the yeast mixture as well as a spoon of olive oil. Mix to combine.
Place the dough onto a well floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes. You can do this in a food processor or by hand by I find doing it by hand very therapeutic, plus you can never over knead it by hand which you can do it by food processor. If when you prod the dough it bounces back it means it is ready. Give it a ball shape and place it back into the same bowl covered with a damp cloth or cling film and leave it in a warm place, away from drafts, (if it is in the larder resist from opening and closing the door to check what it's doing!) It will take about a couple of hours before it has doubled in size. I leave mine in the utility room next to the radiator and the boiler! That seems to work fine.
When the dough is ready grease a tray with a bit of oil to avoid it sticks to the bottom and lay the dough flattening it down with your palm and fingers. Scatter the grapes and cover with 50gr sugar.
Make another layer of flat dough and cover the rest of the schiacciata with this one. Cover with more grapes and scatter the rest of the sugar. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and then bake in the oven at 200C for about 25 minutes or until golden.
You can tuck in as soon as it is out of the oven or once it has cooled down!