Tuscany (a region in Italy) and California have similar terrain and weather. Although we are thousands of miles away from Tuscany, in the last couple of months we’ve been enjoying the grape harvest.
During this time of year, Tuscans make an exquisite schiacciata all’uva (Italian, pronounced “SKEE-YA-CHATA”), also known as grape focaccia. Although preferred grapes for this recipe are the Muscat or Concord variety, white or red grapes work just as well.
1-3/4 cups lukewarm water (warm up the water in a small sauce pot)
1 teaspoon active, dried yeast
1 teaspoon granulated, unbleached sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup light olive oil (plus a little more for oiling the baking sheet)
4 cups all-purose, unbleached flour
1 pound fresh grapes (Muscat, Concord, White or Red varieties)
5 to 6 tablespoons granulated, unbleached sugar
powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
Prepare the Focaccia Dough:
1. In a 2 to 3-cup metal bowl, combine the yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 cup of the warm water by SWIRLING THE MIXTURE AROUND – DO NOT MIX IT WITH A SPOON.
2. Cover the yeast mixture and set it aside on a warm surface such as a wooden board (do not set it on cold marble, granite or tile – it will not rise).
3. Let yeast mixture rise for 10 minutes or until it has puffed up.
4. After yeast mixture has puffed up, gently transfer it to a 6 or 8-quart mixing bowl.
5. Using a wooden spoon, GENTLY stir in the remaining 3/4 cup water, salt and 1/3 cup olive oil.
6. Gradually (one cup at a time) stir in the flour, working it in with each addition.
7. Each time you add the flour, make sure it is all absorbed and the batter or dough becomes uniform.
8. Keep adding flour in 1-cup increments until a smooth, elastic dough has formed.
9. With lightly-floured hands, transfer the dough to a floured wood or plastic board (do not transfer it to marble, granite or tile).
10. Gently knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.
11. Lightly oil the mixing bowl (there is no need to wash it).
12. Return the kneaded dough to the oiled bowl.
13. Cover the dough in bowl with a clean cloth; set it aside to rise for 45 minutes to one hour (or until it has doubled in volume), away from drafts.
Assemble the Focaccia or Schiacciata:
1. Wash, dry and separate the grapes from their stems; set them aside in a bowl.
2. When dough has risen, oil an 18 X 12-inch rectangular baking sheet.
3. Preheat oven to 425°F.
4. Meanwhile, divide the dough in half and shape each half into a ball;
lightly flour each dough ball.
5. Set one dough ball aside in the same bowl.
6. Working with one dough ball, roll it out on a lightly-floured wood or plastic board to roughly the size of the baking sheet and to not more than 1/2-inch thick.
7. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet, stretching it to fit (if needed) in corners.
8. Using a fork, make scattered holes in dough.
9. Divide 2/3 of the grapes over the dough in sheet.
10. Sprinkle half of the granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over the grapes on dough.
11. Repeat the rolling-out instructions for the second dough ball.
12. Carefully lay the stretched-out dough (in one quick sweep) over the grapes in baking sheet.
13. Roll up the edges of dough from underneath to the top of the focaccia or schiacciata.
14. Slightly push down top of dough to create dimples all over.
15. Scatter the top of the focaccia or schiacciata with remaining grapes.
16. Sprinkle the grapes with remaining granulated sugar and olive oil.
17. Bake the focaccia or schiacciata 15 to 25 minutes or until it looks golden brown and grapes look cooked or caramelized.
18. To test doneness, lift bottom of schiacciata with a spatula. If it is golden brown, the schiacciata is done.
19. Cool the schiacciata to room temperature.
20. When ready to serve, cut the schiacciata into square servings and dust with powdered sugar.
Text and Photograph ©2014 Nancy DeLucia Real