My 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.
Scaccia 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.
First, 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.
The loaf is not given a rising period but I did let mine sit for at least 30 minutes while the oven preheated.
Looking 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.
After 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.