When you say “focacce”, Sicily is definitely one of the first regions that jump in my mind. They have a huge tradition about focacce, all amazingly good.
Two years ago we have been in Ragusa and surroundings, a wonderful place, rich of history, Baroque buildings, landscapes and a mouthwatering gastronomy. And one of the most typical things of this area is the Scaccia Ragusana, which is also one the most popular street food there. And I still remember while I was eating it by the sea in Marina di Ragusa 🙂
It’s a unique focaccia in Italy, it’s kind of a calzone, but made with more thin layers. The paternity of it is claimed by the cities of Ragusa and Modica, each city has their particular recipes: the most typical filling is tomato, basil and the local caciocavallo cheese (either the Ragusano DOP or the Cosacavaddu Ibleo, which are the famous local cheese of that area traditionally used for this recipe), then there are other fillings too, for example with fried eggplants, with ricotta and sausage, with tomato and onions (“a cipuddata“), with anchovies and parsley, with baccalà, etc. all very good but the first I cited is probably the most popular and the more traditional.
The modern recipes use durum wheat flour, natural sourdough yeast (or baker’s yeast), salt and extra virgin olive oil. But in the past any yeast was used. Both versions are fine. But in any case the dough for the scaccia has to be flattened very thin, so it’s not covering too much the filling when you bite it, and for each bite you should have the perfect balance of crust and filling.
A larger version of it is the so called Campagnola: the layers are more, about 10, and it’s bigger.
The same dough of the Scaccia is used also for the focacce called Buccatureddi and for the Impanate, but in those cases, because of the richer fillings, the dough is flattened at a higher thickness, about half centimeter or also a bit more. And they are closed with a different technique.
Now let’s see how to make it.
INGREDIENTS (4 people):
- 500 g durum flour (I used Sfarinato di grano duro Senatore Cappelli)
- 280 ml water (or a bit more, it depends)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 10 g salt
- 5 g fresh baker’s yeast
For the filling:
- 1,2-1,4 l tomato sauce (2 big bottles)
- extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 300-350 g caciocavallo Ragusano DOP cheese (or Cosacavaddu Ibleo), in alternative other caciocavallo types or also provola/provolone will work nicely
- fresh basil leaves, at least 10-12 leaves
- freshly ground black pepper
- a pinch of sugar, a small teaspoon
- First of all we have to prepare the sauce, which has to be thick and cooled down. Take a large pan, heat a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil, with the garlic. When the garlic gets some color remove it. Let it simmer until it’s thick, it can be also 50-60 minutes or more depending on how much liquid was the sauce. When it’s almost ready season with salt and pepper, and add the sugar to balance the possible acidity of the tomato. Then let it cool down, you can prepare the sauce also some hours earlier.
- Now prepare the dough: take a large bowl, sift the flour, add the yeast diluted in some warm water (taken from the 280 ml), and start adding the water and mixing it with the flour. When the liquids are quite absorbed add also the salt and the extra virgin olive oil. If needed add some little more water, you have to obtain a soft dough, elastic, not too hard at all. Work it for 10-15 minutes on the table (or with a machine if you prefer). Cover it and let it rest at room temperature for about 2,5-3 hours.
- Meanwhile you can slice the Ragusano DOP cheese and pick some basil leaves, that you will add to the sauce.
- After this time divide the dough in 2 or 4 pieces (depending on your choice, if you want large or normal size scacce), and flatten the dough with a rolling pin at a very thin thickness, no more than 2 mm. Spread some durum flour (semola rimacinata) over the table. Remember, we said the layers must be thin. And it shouldn’t be too elastic but easy to flatten, so let it rest a bit more rather than less.
- Then spread the tomato sauce on the surface (you can use the hands too), not too close to the edges. Don’t be afraid, be abundant. Then cover with the caciocavallo cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and then fold the dough over itself to the long sides. Then add again tomato sauce, the cheese, the oil and bend again, this time on the short sides.
- Preheat the oven at 220 °C, static mode (I also use a baking stone). Brush the top of the scaccia with olive oil and place them in the oven, on a baking paper. Make some holes on the top using a fork. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the surface is browned, the last few minutes in grill-mode. In the case you choose to make 2 large scacce and not 4, then the total baking time will be around 40 minutes.
- When they are ready let them cool down at least 10 minutes, then slice them or simply take it in your hands and bite it 😀 enjoy!
PS: It’s good also the day after, if it remains 😀 you just have to heat it in the oven.
Flour: stone-ground organic durum flour from Senatore Cappelli durum wheat (Sfarinato di grano duro) from Mulino Marino.
Cheese: Ragusano DOP
Olive oil: my father’s extra virgin olive oil 🙂