This wonderful street food bread is hugely popular in its native Ragusa and combines rustic simplicity with incredibly delicious indulgence. The mountainside community of Ragusa, with white stone cube buildings which would not be out of place in North Africa, is home to a famous bakery called Giummarra, renowned for producing the best scaccia in all the land. I chatted to the baker there on a visit and he told me that apparently the scaccia is a distant relation to the Tunisian brik – albeit baked rather than deep fried. My homemade version is a result of many trials and errors, but I’m happy to say that I think it’s on a par with Giummarra’s.
For the dough
strong white flour 250g
semolina flour 250g
fine sea salt 6g
fresh yeast 10g
caster sugar 1 tsp
lukewarm water 300-330ml
olive oil 2 tbsp, plus extra for brushing
For the filling
olive oil 1 tbsp
onions 2, finely diced
garlic 1 clove, finely chopped
cherry tomatoes 500g, quartered
basil a large handful, leaves picked and torn
provolone or caciocavallo cheese 150g, finely sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the flours into a bowl with the salt and mix well. Mix the yeast and sugar with 100ml of the water, stirring until dissolved. Make a well in the flour and slowly add a little of the remaining water, incorporating the flour from the sides. Add the yeast mixture, oil and a little more water to the well and mix in more flour from the sides. Continue until all the flour has been incorporated and you have a soft rough dough.
Rub a little olive oil on your work surface. Tip the dough on to it and knead for 10 minutes or so or until the dough is smooth and silky. Place in a clean bowl, cover and leave to rise for at least 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size. The longer the rise the better, as the flavour will improve over time.
While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Heat the olive oil in a medium pan over a medium heat and saute the onions and garlic gently until soft but without colour. Add the cherry tomatoes, season well and stir. Cook for a further 10 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to break down into a chunky sauce. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Once cool stir through the picked basil.
Preheat the oven to 200C fan/gas mark 7. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
When the dough is ready, tip it on to a floured work surface. Roll out into a large circle about 80cm diameter and 4mm thick. Spread three-quarters of the tomato filling over the dough, leaving a clear border of about 4cm around the edge. Cover with three-quarters of the cheese. Fold in 2 opposite sides of the dough circle so the edges meet in the middle.
Spread the remaining tomato filling down the centre to cover the join followed by the remaining cheese. Now fold in the opposite ends so they cover 2cm of dough. Starting with the end furthest away from you fold the dough over to make a neat parcel.
Place on a baking tray and brush with olive oil. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until crisp and golden. Leave to cool before slicing.
I suggest serving the scaccia street-food style, wrapped in greaseproof paper and washed down with a cold beer.
From Sicilia by Ben Tish (Bloomsbury, £26)