Makes 1 Loaf
In the tombs of the Etruscans, early inhabitants of Italy, there are curious drawings of daily activities, including depictions of pasta making and bread making. One such bread was Schiacciata, a flat bread that today has many different versions, depending on where you are in Italy. In Siena, it is a flat Easter cake with confectioner's sugar on the top; in Florence, an hour's drive away, it is a flat pizza with herbs or onions. This recipe, an old version of Schiacciata, is made with batterlike dough and baked in a rectangular pan. It has a slightly sweet flavor and is perfect for breakfast or tea.
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (110º to 115ºF)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Filippo Berio Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 large egg, slightly beaten
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/8 teaspoon powdered saffron
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Confectioner's sugar, for sprinkling
Pour the warm water into a bowl, sprinkle on the yeast, and stir to dissolve. Gradually add the flour and mix with your hands until a ball of dough is formed. Knead the dough on a floured surface. Oil a bowl with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, add the dough, and turn the dough in the oil to coat it. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place it in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Remove the plastic wrap. Do not punch the dough down. Add the egg and all but 1 tablespoon of the melted butter, the granulated sugar, zest, saffron, and vanilla. Using an electric mixer with a dough hook, beat the ingredients on high for about 2 minutes. Or use a wooden spoon, and beat the ingredients by hand into the dough using a circular motion. Beat for about 10 minutes to incorporate enough air into the dough. It will be very soft and sticky.
Use 1 teaspoon of the remaining butter to grease a 12- by 10-inch baking sheet. Using a rubber spatula, pour the dough onto the sheet and smooth it out to the edges. Brush the remaining melted butter over the top. Let the dough rise in a warm oven for about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
Bake the bread for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned. Let the Schiacciata cool completely, then cut into squares and dust with confectioner's sugar.
This recipe is from NELLA CUCINA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company Inc., in 1993.
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