Scaccia; Sicilian Lasagna Bread

IMG_6719My mother gave me several issues of the magazine Saveur that she was finished with.  They have been sitting on the coffee table in the living room for several months and recently, I found myself flipping through one, Issue 182 from April 2016.  The cover promised a Taste of Sicily, and I went through the article in search of bread recipes and I wasn’t disappointed.

IMG_6697Scaccia is favorite snack food in Sicily and can be easily found in shops and is made with many thin layers of semolina bread stacked with tomato sauce and a traditional cheese called Caciocavallo, a traditional stretched cheese curd.  Having never traveled to Sicily, I will accept that fact and add this to it, it is not easy to find here!  The recipe looked easy enough and after checking my pantry for semolina flour, I mixed up a batch of the dough.  This recipe instructs you to also make the tomato sauce but I suspect that you could use just about any sauce, homemade or purchased.  Caciocavallo, which translates as cheese on horseback in English, is similar to Provolone in flavor and is made from either sheep or cow’s milk and as much as I would like to try it, I didn’t go out in search of it and just substituted some grated Asiago.

IMG_6698First, the dough is rolled out into a large rectangle.  The result is a very thin sheet which gets topped with sauce and cheese before being folded up.  Then more sauce and cheese, more folding and finally, a log of layered dough, sauce and cheese is folded in half  and placed into a pan lined with parchment paper.

IMG_6699The loaf is not given a rising period but I did let mine sit for at least 30 minutes while the oven preheated.

IMG_6702Looking at the loaf, I was worried.  Knowing that only 1/4 teaspoon of yeast was used to leaven the dough was obvious; it did not appear to rise much, if at all.

IMG_6720After baking the loaf for nearly and hour, I was surprised to see that it did rise a small amount.  The aroma that filled the kitchen was undeniably that of lasagna or of a similar baked tomato sauce and pasta dish.  Having waited for about 20 minutes, I carefully sliced into loaf and revealed the layers of spongy dough, tomato sauce and cheese.  Not only did it smell like lasagna, it tasted like it too, both in flavor as well as the texture of the interior.

The verdict, this is a recipe that I will turn to when I want something besides the usual layers of pasta, sauce and cheese, especially for a pot luck or picnic-it travels well and can left to cool, sliced an hour or two later without being reheated.  This recipe has a lot of potential for variations.  The sauce could be varied; pesto, alfredo, butternut squash and mushrooms all come to mind.  Even the cheese could be swapped but, I look forward to finding a chunk of Caciocavallo so that I can taste it.

If you can find a copy of issue 182, open it to page 70 and get to work, take note that a detailed set of instructions with illustrations on the folding methods is also included on page 74.  For those of you that would rather just see the recipe, rejoice!  Saveur magazine has the recipe posted on their website and it is available for free, find the recipe here, and the folding instructions here.

eastern mediteranean pizzas; a tuesdays with dorie recipe

tomatoes are in season, finally.  we were so late at getting them into the garden due to a cool, wet spring that i was beginning to think that we would never have them.  this recipe was the perfect way to use a few ripe ones. 
 the simple recipe calls for few ingredients.  yeast is stirred into water.
 whole wheat flour is added and stirred until silky smooth.

 the sponge is allowed to rest and develop flavor; mine sat for 5 hours.  when i was traveling last year, i brought home a shower cap from the hotel i stayed in.  they are perfect for covering a bowl of dough and they are reusable.

 after resting, all purpose flour is added and stirred in.  once the dough is too stiff to stir, it is kneaded.

 eight to ten minutes later, the dough is ready to rise and double.

 the topping is simple too.  onions and garlic are sauteed.  the recipe calls for the addition of ground lamb but i didn’t want to buy a pound of it for just the needed four ounces; i used a vegetarian ground meat substitute.

 tomatoes from the garden were diced up and added.  after a few minutes of sauteing, they needed to be drained of the juices.  finally, traditional spices were added.

 can you believe the size of this tomato?  have i mentioned how much i love my garden?

 the dough doubled in less than two hours.

 the dough is rolled out by hand.  the directions call to use a well floured surface.  my advice, go lightly with the flour or the dough will not cooperate and will slide around the table.

 the topping is spread around the dough and into the hot oven they went.  i baked them on a stone.

 they baked up quickly.

 the recipe calls for half the dough, i made pita bread with the rest.  i used a cast iron skillet and “baked” them on the stove top.

 the rounds of dough puff up slowly in the skillet.
 suddenly, they will expand
 and you have, pita pockets!

perfect for sandwiches and so much more!  to see what the other bakers came up with, check out the tuesdays with dorie page.  to participate, buy the book, baking with julia.

pizza with onion confit; tuesdays with dorie/baking with julia

this week, the tuesdays with dorie challenge called for making a pizza topped with an onion confit.  sounds like dinner to me.  and it was, literally.  after a trip to the garden to pick some fresh lettuce and arugula, i made a big salad to accompany the pizza.  this was such an easy recipe that i think everyone should try it.  if you do not already have a copy of baking with julia, buy it, or head over to host paul’s blog, the boy can bake to find the recipe.

the most time consuming part of the recipe was to cook the onions.

i used a combination of yellow onions, shallots and garlic to make my pizza.  and i say that singularly because the recipe can easily be halved-i only wanted one pizza.  however, according to the recipe, the extra piece of dough could have been frozen for another time.

the idea is to slowly cook the onions so that they caramelize as well as soften.
the recipe calls for thyme leaves or sprigs.  that is one of the best parts of having an herb garden.  it is so wonderful to walk out the door and clip fresh herbs as needed.  luckily, thyme is an evergreen and has leaves in winter.  
i picked the leaves off the stems and chopped them a little

the onions cook and take on lots of color.  then a combination of red wine and red wine vinegar is added to them.  at this time, it is important to keep the heat very low so that the onions have time to absorb the color and flavor of the wine.  they will continue to soften as well.

after about 35-40 minutes, my pan was nearly dry and the onions were a deep shade of red, cabernet sauvignon red to be exact.

the onions almost look like little strips of meat in this photo.  

the dough rises and is stretched or rolled out to a large circle that is about 1/4 inch thick.  the onions are spread over the top in an even layer.  at this time, you can add whatever else you like.  the recipe suggested kalamata olives or cheese but i decided to keep it simple and just use the onions.

the results, close to a classic pissaladiere, a tasty flat bread with onions; the perfect side for a salad.

be sure to check out the tuesdays with dorie page to see what the other participants came up with.  bake on friends, and happy new year to all!!!

lagging behind…#23 of 52, pizzas!

don’t even say it!  it absolutely is too a pie!!!  where i come from (just outside of new york city), they are referred to as pies; large pie, small pie, what ever size or toppings are added, it is a pie.  okay, i will admit it is a little bit of a stretch, but then again, is it?  it starts out with a crust and in the fashion of a free form, out of the pan pie, it gets a topping of what ever you choose.  after baking, it is cut into wedges, just like a pie…

for the teenager, just tomato sauce and cheese

for the husband, exotic wild picked mushrooms, onions and cheese with a little bit of white sauce and a drizzle of truffle oil.

for myself, a trip out to the garden for some spinach, onions and a few mushrooms (the regular button kind) with a little white sauce and cheese.  okay, so it has been very hectic-it’s graduation week, the family is coming.  i had an opportunity to help a friend with her cookbook and now i am trying to get caught up.  besides we were hungry…
no knead dough crust-this is another of jim lahey’s recipes adapted from the recipe posted on the tasting table.  makes 4 (8-10) pizzas each serving one person.  
3 cups all purpose or bread flour ( i used 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and the remainder was bread flour
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
desired sauces, cheeses and toppings:  takes about 1/4 cup sauce per pizza, 1/2-1 cup cheese and up to 1 cup of toppings.
combine all ingredients in a bowl and allow it to sit for 12-24 hours.  mine sat for about 18 hours.  at this time, scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured board and fold the ends in to the middle a few time.  make a smooth ball of dough and cut it into 4 even pieces.  flour them and let them rest under a towel for 2 hours.  heat the oven with a pizza stone in it (for the best results)  to 500, this will take about 20 minutes.  carefully shape one ball of dough into a 8-10 inch circle.  place the crust on a floured peel and add the desired toppings.  quickly slide the pizza onto the hot stone and bake until golden and bubbly-about 10-15 minutes.  shape each dough ball individually and just before it is to be placed in the oven.  it is hard to move the pizza if it has a chance to relax and stick to the peel.
with any luck, i will get the pie for last week as well as this week up soon!  and as always, bake with me!  send me a photo and i will post it here.