Born in the farmhouse kitchens surrounding the vineyards of Tuscany, Schiacciata all'Uva has been and continues to be one of the iconic flavors of autumn throughout this breathtaking region. As each Fall season approaches, like a predictable clock, the farmers are busy harvesting the grapes for wine season. Not only are the grapes harvested for wine, or to enjoy after a meal, but with the last scattered, sweet clusters of deep purple fruit still on the vines, eager hands will pick what is left. One last traditional and cherished Tuscan staple will get to shine when the harvest is almost over. For just a few fleeting weeks in the months of September and October, the delicious aroma of these sweet, purple grapes tucked and baked in a simple bread dough, permeate the air of the bakeries. Grapes, rosemary, sugar and olive oil are the simple ingredients needed to enjoy this fall tradition. Tasting and enjoying the essence of our beloved homeland has never been easier than with the preparation of this simple and rustic flat bread called Schiacciata all'Uva. Let's get started!
2 kilograms rinsed Thomcord Seedless Grapes. They are a type of Concord grapes. Although very similar in taste, in Italy we normally use a grape called Uva Fragola. These grapes typically have seeds which give Schiacciata all'uva a bit of a crunch with each bite. Thomcord grapes did not have any seeds.
For the preferment, simply mix together the flour, yeast and water. Knead the dough into a little ball. With a sharp knife, cut a cross into the top of the dough ball and place it in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth. Allow it to rise for at least 3 hours on the countertop, or overnight in the refrigerator. Before placing it in the refrigerator allow the preferment to sit on the countertop for at least one hour. If you choose not to prepare a pre-ferment, simply add these ingredients to the rest of the final dough.
As for the final dough, mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
With the help of one hand make a well in the center of the flour. Pour the water, yeast and olive oil into the well.
Break up the preferment into small pieces and place this also into the flour well.
Begin incorporating the dry ingredients with the wet by using either a wooden spoon, rubber spatula or your hands. Continue mixing until a shaggy dough is formed.
Once the flour is mostly incorporated into the dough, transfer everything onto a clean work surface. Knead the rest of the flour into the dough by working it for an additional 5 minutes. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and allow it to rest for ten minutes. During this short waiting time the gluten strands will relax.
When time is up, knead the dough once again. It will be evident that the consistency of the dough will have become much smoother. Allow the dough to rest one more time for 10 minutes, and then knead for the last time shaping it into a large dough ball.
Cut the ball into equal halves, and shape each piece into a ball. Cover the dough balls with a damp cloth, and allow them to rise for 1 to 1.5 hours at room temperature.
While the dough is rising, rinse the grapes and remove them from the cluster. Dry and set aside.
Once the dough has risen, place one ball on a clean, flour dusted work surface and gently roll it out with a rolling pin to the size of your baking tray.
Drizzle olive oil into the bottom of the baking dish and sprinkle it with sugar, as shown in the video. A good dusting of sugar is necessary.
Place the stretched dough on the dish and press it up along the edges of the tray.
Arrange the grapes over the dough, making sure to reserve some for the top.
Sprinkle a generous amount of sugar over the grapes, as well as another drizzle of olive oil.
Strip the rosemary branch from its needles, and scatter them over the grapes.
Once again, roll the other dough ball out on a clean, flour dusted surface. When it reaches the size of the baking dish, place it over the top of the grapes.
Arrange the rest of the grapes over the top of the dough, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top. This is the time to be creative with any leftover dough, as shown in the video.
Cover the dough (we used a large plastic bag) and place it in a draft free area to proof for 1.5 hours.
When the Schiacciata all'Uva is fully proofed, begin prepping the oven for baking. The oven chamber must be cleaned from the fire and hot coals. With the help of the ash shovel quickly remove the hot coals, and close the damper on the chimney in order to retain the heat inside the oven chamber. The temperature will naturally drop a bit as the door is open while cleaning it out. Before sliding the pan in the oven, check the internal temperature with the infrared thermometer pointed directly on the stone where the Schiacciata will be placed. The ideal temperature to bake the Schiacciata all'Uva is around 375°F - 190°C. Don't worry if the initial temp is at 400°F - 200°C as it will slowly drop without the fire present.
Finally place the pan into the oven and immediately close the door. Half way through baking rotate the pan. Bake the Schiacciata all'Uva for 45 minutes, or until the dough is evenly golden brown.
Once the Schiacciata is beautifully golden, carefully remove it from the oven. Allow the Schiacciata all'Uva to rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy!