Schiacciata is a Tuscan focaccia, the word literally means "flattened" and describes the shape of this favourite bread. This recipe is inspired by my favourite Florentine baked good, which, towards the end of the summer starts appearing in bakery windows around the city: Schiacciata all'Uva, a focaccia made with two layers of bread dough with sweet, round concord grapes in the middle and on top. Simple and delicious.
This cherry tomato schiacciata is made in much the same way, but I've made it with spelt or farro flour (and just a touch of plain flour to help hold the dough together), which has a really tasty, nutty flavour, the season's ripest cherry tomatoes and a generous layer of ricotta in the middle.
Although, the Florentines really don't deter too much from their filled Schiacciata all'Uva recipe, essentially, the options are endless. You could use fresh mozzarella, smoky scamorza or a tangy goats cheese, fresh herbs such as basil or mint, or dried spices like fennel seeds or cumin. Vegetables like radicchio or zucchini would be great too, but there's just one rule: keep it very simple. Less is more with this delectable portable lunch or snack!
If you don't have spelt flour on hand, you could use wholemeal flour to keep that nutty flavour, or just use plain flour.
Preheat the oven to about 350 F. For the dough: Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the tepid water. Mix well with the flours and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. A food processor is handy for this, as it aerates the mixture as well. When combined, add a generous pinch of salt and turn the mixture out onto a floured, clean surface and knead for about 5 minutes.
Place the dough in a large bowl and cover. Set aside to rise. Ideally, leave it in the fridge overnight or for at least 12 hours - this allows the yeast to work very slowly, improving the flavour and smell of the bread. Otherwise, leave it in room temperature in a warmish place for at least 2 hours.
In the meantime, cut half of the cherry tomatoes in half, leave the rest on the vine, whole.
When the dough has risen, divide it into 2 equal parts. Roll out the first to about 1/2 an inch thick, shape into a rectangle to fit your cookie sheet or dish (I use a ceramic dish lined with baking paper, it's about 2 inches high).
Spread the ricotta over this layer, it doesn't have to be perfectly even, this can be rustic! In fact I prefer it when there are thicker parts in different places! Top with the cherry tomato halves to cover the entire surface. Season with salt and pepper. Add your herbs.
Roll out your second ball of dough and place carefully on top of the halves of cherry tomato layer. Fold up the edges of the bottom layer towards the top layer. Gently press down on the surface of the schiacciata to get those characterisic indents that will pocket very nicely the rest of the olive oil and salt that you're about to scatter over the top! Before you do that though, layer your cherry tomatoes on the vine on top, then season with olive oil and sea salt.
Bake for about 35 minutes or until golden brown at 350 F.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.