Pesto and vine tomato schiacciata

schiacciata with pesto and vine tomatoes - inksugarspice

I hesitated labelling this as schiacciata, even though that’s what I’ve always called this particular bake. Should I label it as focaccia as that’s more widely known? Focaccia or schiacciata: it’s mostly down to regional naming choice, with schiacciata being the term for this bread in Toscana. In fact, although these two Italian breads are incredibly well known (granted one more than the other), most Eurasian countries have a bread that’s very similar, even indistinguishable, to these. Investigate down to a regional level in Italy though and both focaccia and schiacciata have many specific variations due to the added ingredients such as schiacciatta all’uva, a famous Florentine sweet version with grapes (and absolutely delicious it is too).

From my cookbooks and from devouring plenty of Italian breads there’s no real, confirmed clarity on any differences between the two. As mentioned above there are some specific recipes, but these are down to the included ingredients. There’s just a confusing mix of some people saying they’re exactly the same base recipe (ie it’s just local naming) to those who think schiacciata is thinner and crispier on the outside or that focaccia is fluffier in the middle (or vice versa). One thing that seems more consistent is that many sources indicate that schiacciata only has salt on the top, not in the dough. There’s even a sheet cake from Veneto that’s called a schiacciata to add to the confusion. Some of the listed differences could actually just be down to the technique of the baker. Press down on the dough a bit more and you’ll get thinner and crispier, bake in a slightly hotter oven you’ll bake the outside first and the insides will be less ‘done’ by the time the exterior is cooked.

The only things that is a given is that schiaciatta comes from the verb schiacciata, to crush or press, indicating the way that fingers are used (on both focaccia and schiacciata) to press the dough down and create dimples for the oil to pool in before baking. I love it when food is named really basically by its description.

I expect I’ve made hundreds of focaccia and schiacciata over the years, as they’re one of our family’s favourites for sharing, dipping, turning into bruschetta, slicing sideways for sandwiches and just snacking on. And frankly these breads are fun to make and to swap ingredients and tastes around on.

All I know is they’re all lovely breads, tasty and versatile and that I use the same base bread recipe for either (though I do omit the salt from the dough if I am aiming to produce schiacciatta). The classic schiacciata is just topped with olive oil and salt, but this is a delicious and relatively common variation.

Ink Sugar Spice blog https://inksugarspice.wordpress.com/

Notes

  • Makes one large schiacciata or you can make several small ones (if you want one each)
  • Can I add a plea here – if you’re making any Italian flatbread and are planning on using rosemary, please please don’t just throw it on the top: it’ll be a burnt crispy stalk of horror that you can’t eat. Either chop it up and knead it into the bread dough or sink any sprigs deep into the dough (so just a little is peeping out) and ensure they’re in one of the ‘dimples’ so that the olive oil pools around them and keeps them moist
  • If you can’t be bothered with having a layer of pesto inside the bread, you can just omit steps 15-20. Just press or roll out the dough to it’s final size before proofing and then the pesto and vine tomatoes on top and bake per the rest of the recipe

Equipment

  • Large baking tray (approx 44cm x 30cm)
  • Large bowl
  • Small measuring jug
  • Dough scraper
  • Clean tea towel
  • Rolling pin (not entirely necessary but does help)
  • Dough whisk (optional)
  • Wire cooling rack

Ingredients

  • Strong white bread flour – 300 g
  • Tepid water – 190 g/ml
  • Fast acting yeast – 1 level teaspoon
  • Caster sugar – 1 level teaspoon
  • Extra virgin olive oil, a rich and tasty variety is best – 1 ¼ tablespoons
  • Sea salt grinder (you’ll use about 1-2 teaspoons of salt in total)
  • Cherry or mini plum tomatoes on the vine – 1 large or two smaller ‘bunches’ of these vine tomatoes
  • Red pesto (I used Filippo Berio’s Grilled Vegetable Pesto here) – about 9-10 teaspoons
  • Additional olive oil for drizzling
  • Additional durum wheat flour (also called semola/semolina flour) if you have it for dusting or use bread flour

Method

  1. Mix in the sugar and yeast into the tepid water and leave for 10 minutes
  2. In the large bowl, measure out your flour and make a well in the middle
  3. Tip in your water, sugar and yeast and also the 1 ¼ tablespoons of olive oil
  4. Mix the whole lot with your fingers, a large fork or a dough whisk into a rough, messy mix
  5. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave for 10 minutes (for the autolyse process to start, which will help gluten develop and make kneading easier)
  6. Tip it all out onto your clean surface and knead for about 8 minutes. The dough will be a little sticky and messy but stick with it – it will quite quickly come together
  7. When the dough is transformed into a glossy, smooth dough, spread a little oil all over the bowl using your hands (so they are also now a little oily which will transfer to the dough)
  8. Round the dough off into a ball and pop back into the bowl and recover with the tea towel
  9. Leave the dough to rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place. It won’t have quite “doubled” in size but will be noticeably risen
  10. Tip the dough back out onto your working surface
  11. Knock out the large air bubbles by giving it a brief knead (just two or three ‘kneads and folds’ will do)
  12. Flick a palm-full amount of the durum flour (if you don’t have this, just use the bread flour!) on to the baking tray
  13. Pre heat your oven to 220 C fan / 240 C conventional
  14. On your work surface, press out the dough as thinly as you can – you should be able to stretch it to about 28 cm (11-12 inches) in width and almost twice as long – a large oval
  15. If this is difficult by hand, you can use a rolling pin to squash out the dough
  16. Dot over about 5 teaspoonfuls of the pesto onto ONE HALF only of the rolled/pressed out dough
  17. Fold the plain half of the dough over on itself to sandwich the pesto in between
  18. Roll or press out the dough to a neat oval shape, enlarging it slightly – the schiacciata should take up about 80% of a large baking tray: I get it to about 28cm width, 38cm in length, as you can see in the image further down
  19. Lift it up carefully and place on the baking tray
  20. Pinch the edges together on the three sides (other than the folded edge). I tuck the edges under, so that the ‘seam’ isn’t seen but it doesn’t really matter
  21. Try to ensure that the edges are not thicker than the rest of the dough, flattening it out as necessary
  22. Leave to proof again for about 20 – 30 mins, covered with a tea towel
  23. When risen a little (it won’t rise that much as you’ve flattened it out) use your finger tips to make indentations across the top for the oil
  24. Drizzle some olive oil all over the dough, moving it about with your fingers if there are conspicuously dry patches anywhere
  25. Dot several more teaspoonfuls of the pesto over the top of the dough, dispersing it about a little with the back of the spoon (but don’t ‘spread’ it out as you did with the first layer)
  26. Sprinkle or grind the sea salt all over the dough (remember there is none in the dough itself so you do need a little more than just a light seasoning)
  27. Lay the vine tomatoes out on the dough and gently press in

    schiacciata with tomatoes and pesto - inksugarspice
  28. Transfer the baking tray and schiacciata to the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 220 C / 240 C (as mentioned above)
  29. After 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 190 C fan / 210 C conventional and bake for a further 12 – 15 minutes
  30. When baked, transfer to a wire rack to cool
pesto and vine tomato schiacciata - inksugarspice
Ink Sugar Spice blog https://inksugarspice.wordpress.com/

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