"Bread is merely flour, water, yeast, and salt as the world is merely earth, water, fire, and air."
Carol Field in The Italian Baker
Carol Field offers up recipes of the Italian countryside in this book, including breads, pizza, pastries, cookies, and focaccia. I decided to try focaccia, something that Field suggests has become the national dish.
Field notes that focaccia is "simplicity itself," made from the herbs of the countryside, along with oil from Liguria, and garlic and olives. Sometimes there are variations with tomatoes or oregano, capers or anchovies, basil or sweet onions.
Schiacciata is the word Florentines use for the breads other Italians call focaccia.
Here is the recipe I used:
Schiacciata alla Florentina
2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons lard at room temperature
2 1/2 tablespoons of nonfat dry milk
3 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
By hand, stir the yeast into the warm water in a large mixing bowl; let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the oil, lard, and dry milk. Mix in the flour and salt and make a well in the center. Pour the yeast mixture into the well and gradually stir the flour into the liquid. Stir until well combined. Knead on a floured surface until velvety and soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. The dough should be soft, so add any extra flour sparingly.
(I didn't have lard, so I substituted butter.)
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
Flatten the dough firmly on a lightly floured work surface and divide into two 8-ounce and one 10 1/2 ounce piece. Roll each piece into a ball and let rest under a towel for 15 minutes. Dimple and spread the balls with your fingers to cover the bottoms of two oiled 8-inch pie plates and one oiled 10-inch pie plate. Brush the tops with oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.
(I had to use three 8-inch pie plates as I didn't have a 10-inch plate.)
Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
Cover with one of the following toppings:
2 red onions, thinly sliced and sautéed in 2 tablespoons of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of fresh basil
or 3-4 fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced, sprinkled with chopped basil leaves and 3/4 teaspoon of salt
or 2 yellow and/or red peppers, thinly sliced and lightly sautéed with a large garlic clove in 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil for 15 minutes; discard the garlic
or 4-6 small zucchini, cut lengthwise into thin slices and lightly sautéed with 2 whole cloves of garlic in 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil; discard the garlic; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil.
(I used tomatoes with fresh basil for one pizza, cheese for another, and pepperoni for a third. I liked the cheese and the tomato pizzas best)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Using baking stones, if possible (turn on oven 30 minutes before baking) and place the baking pans directly on the preheated stones. Bake the schiacciata 25-30 minutes. Serve hot.
For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.
Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.
Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.