Autumn is nearly here and it is wine harvest time in Tuscany. Sadly, we had a very hot summer and were forced to pick our grapes a little early this year.. white ones middle of august and the red ones this week. The delicate grapes are monitored daily during the month of August so they can be picked at the best moment. The gentleman who overseas our vineyards literally gave us a 12 hour window to prepare for harvest and there was quite a rush of activity on the property the night before harvest. Never a dull moment in Tuscany.
What’s my favorite sweet during this season? Schiacciata all’uva obviously. This simple sweet dessert shows up in local bakeries in Florence in early September and coordinates with the time of the grape harvest. One of the things I love about living and eating here is that we truly eat what is in season.
This dessert will only be around for a few short weeks and I for one will be enjoying it. To be honest, I don’t often make it at home anymore because I happen to live only a few steps away from what is considered one of the best (and oldest) bakeries in the region. I trust theirs to be better than mine, but thought I’d share the recipe with you in case you’re curious and want to try and create it at home. It isn’t a difficult recipe and well worth the effort.
Like most Tuscan recipes this dessert was once considered peasant food, as is evident by the simplicity of the ingredients list; simple dough, olive oil, sugar and grapes. Except for the super ripe grapes, I bet you have the rest of the ingredients already in your pantry.
So head out to your favorite farmers market, pick up the best concord grapes you can find and try this recipe.
A little taste of Tuscany in the comfort of your own home.
- 1 package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
- 3 tablespoons Chianti or other dry red wine
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3/4 cup warm water (110–115°F)
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups Italian “00” flour or half all-purpose flour and half cake flour (not self-rising)
- 1/4 cup fine-quality extra-virgin olive oil (preferably Tuscan)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 1/2 cups Concord or wine grapes (1 1/2 pounds)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- For crust:
- Stir together yeast, wine, honey, and warm water in a large bowl until yeast is dissolved. Let stand until bubbly, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in 1 cup flour (mixture will be lumpy). Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 40 to 50 minutes.
- Add oil, 1 1/2 cups flour, and sea salt and stir until a sticky dough forms.
- Knead dough on a floured work surface, gradually adding up to 1/2 cup more flour if necessary to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic but still soft, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Transfer dough to an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Turn out dough onto work surface and knead several times to release air. Cut dough in half. Roll out 1 piece of dough, keeping remaining piece covered, with a lightly floured rolling pin into a rough 12- by 10-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled 15- by 10- by 1-inch baking pan and gently stretch to cover as much as possible of bottom (dough may not fit exactly).
- Scatter half of grapes over dough, then sprinkle grapes with 1/4 cup sugar. Roll out remaining piece of dough in same manner and put on top of grapes, gently stretching dough to cover grapes. Scatter remaining grapes and 1/4 cup sugar on top and gently press into dough. Cover pan with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Bake schiacciata in middle of oven until well browned and firm in middle, 40 to 45 minutes. Loosen sides and bottom of schiacciata with a spatula and slide onto a rack to cool. Serve at room temperature.
- Wine and Concord grapes are delicious, but they do have large pits compared to other grape varieties. Resist the temptation to pit them—it’s difficult to do and too much liquid will exude from them into the dough.