Tuesday, November 17, 2009

After the harvest, Schiacciata con l'uva or Grape Foccacia



So now that our grapes have been harvested, you might wonder what to do with all of those grapes when they seen to be coming out of your ears.
Naturally, everyone mostly everyone makes wine, but the wine grapes are so wonderfully sweet and delicious, that if you can stop yourself from devouring them by the bunch, you might want to toss some on your favorite focaccia or flat bread  recipe. Squish them into the dough, sprinkle some coarse sugar on top, and drizzle some light flavored olive oil and/or melted butter over it all. Bake till fragrant, gooey, purpley, and golden, and  enjoy as a sweet treat a the end of your meal or for breakfast like we do at our house this time of the year.

In our part of the world this is called Schiacciata con l'uva, or grape foccacia. It is usually made during the grape harvest and is a specialty of the Tuscany region. We, northerners, do enjoy this seasonal treat as well and can be found gracing the bread shops daily offerings on occasion. Schaiacciata derives from the verb schiacciare, which means to crush, smash, squash or trounce. I think you get the picture. It should come as no surprise then that this flat bread has squashed grapes stuck all over it before letting it rise up around the grapes before popping it into the oven for a chewy, grapey, luscious delight.  
 

Italians don't mind seeds in their olives or grapes, as they contend that is gives you more flavor than when the seed are removed before baking. I tend to fluctuate on this tradition depending on my mood. Fabrizio has convinced me that a few little seeds just add a bit of roughage to ones diet and quite frankly the sweetest grapes are oftentimes quite small and so I find I mind them all that much. I suspect it's just what you get use to. I will usually cut the grapes in half and scrape out the seeds before plunging them into my fluffy dough.
Traditionally, this is made as a single layer bread in a round or rectangular pan. I discovered that if you make two layers it turns into a gooey concoction bordering on the divine. Adjust the amounts of sugar and oil to achieve your preferred result, dry or gooey. 



Schiacciata con l'uva or Grape Foccacia

Ingredients
  • 1 package instant dry yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 Tb sugar or honey
  • 3/4 c (160g) warm water (110–115°F)
  •  fresh rosemary, 2 or 3 inch piece
  •  3 c (300g) all-purpose or Italian "00" flour
  • 1/4 cup  olive oil, light flavored or melted butter if you prefer
  • 1/2 c (95g) sugar, white or brown, coarse or granulated (you could drizzle honey instead of the sugar on top for an Etruscan touch)
  • 1 1/2 pounds (1/2 kilo) Concord or sweet wine grapes (3 1/2 c)

Method

The dough:
Gently warm the oil with the rosemary branch and set aside to cool.
Stir together the tablespoon of sugar or honey and warm water in a large bowl.
Stir in the flour, sea salt, and 1 tablespoon of aromatic oil. 
Knead dough on a floured work surface, adding a bit more flour if necessary to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic but still soft, 8 to 10 minutes.
Try to not get the dough too firm.
Transfer dough to an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.
Let rise in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 40 minutes to an hour.

Turn dough onto floured work surface.
Cut dough in half.
Lightly roll out 1 piece of dough,  retaining much of your air in the dough.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled rectangular or 10" round pan. Stretch to fit if needed.

Scatter half of the grapes** over dough.
Sprinkle part of the sugar and drizzle part of the oil over as well.
Roll out remaining piece of dough in same manner and place on top of grapes, gently stretching dough to cover grapes.
Scatter remaining grapes on top. Gently press into dough.
Top with remaining sugar and drizzle with the  aromatic oil.
Cover pan with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until light and almost doubled, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Bake schiacciata in middle of oven until well browned, juicy and firm in middle, about  40 to 45 minutes depending on your oven.
Loosen sides and bottom of schiacciata with a spatula and slide onto a rack to cool.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cooks' note:  I have used local varieties like Barbarosso and Barbera, although Uva Frogola is a traditional choice.   Concord grapes are a good variety to use.
* *I bow to most people's preference to remove as many of the seeds as possible by cutting in half and scrapping many of the seeds out.  Your  grapes will be very juicey and I make sure to retain all of that juice as possible by performing this process directly over each layer of dough.
Traditionally the grapes are added whole and squashed into the dough to release their juices.

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