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Sicilian Schiacciata

Something like a double-thickness, well-stuffed pizza, this ancient recipe is really a kind of substantial double-crust pie. Vary ingredients as you like, though these are fairly typical for a Sicilian recipe – food from this island is often packed with intense flavours.

Ingredients:

500 g strong white bread flour, plus extra for shaping

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 sachet fast-action dried yeast, 7g

300 ml lukewarm water

1 large egg, beaten

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

FILLING

150 g caciocavallo or scamorza cheese (smoked mozzarella), chopped or sliced

50 g tinned anchovies with their oil

4 slices (about 80 g) prosciutto, speck or other cured italian ham, pulled into pieces

2 red or white onions, sliced finely into rings, blanched in boiling water and drained

8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped

16 green or black olives, pitted

1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons crumbled dried red chilli

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons cracked black peppercorns

1 teaspoon dried oregano or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped oregano

Directions:

Put the flour, sugar, and salt and yeast into a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix and sift. Put the warm water, egg and olive oil in a bowl or jug and whisk well. With the machine running, add the mixture to the processor through the feed tube. The dough will form, clump, then gather in a mass. Remove to a well-floured work surface, sprinkle with extra flour and knead the dough for 2-3 minutes or until smooth and silky.

Put the ball of dough into a lightly oiled bowl and enclose in a large plastic bag. Leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Remove from the bowl and punch down the dough. Cut in half, then roll, pat and stretch each piece to about 30 cm diameter.

Stretch one of the rounds to about 2 cm more and slide onto a heavy baking tray. Sprinkle it with the cheese, the anchovies and their oil, the prosciutto, onions, tomatoes, olives and chilli. Wet your fingers and sprinkle some drops of water all over and around the edges.

Press the remaining round of dough on top. Push down with your knuckles to seal, then use a fork to press and prick all over in a decorative pattern. Press your fingertips all over to make deep indentations. Wet both hands and sprinkle more water on top, then sprinkle with the olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano. Let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or almost doubled in size.

Bake in a preheated oven at 475 degrees F (250C). Gas for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400 degrees F (200C). Gas 6 and cook for a further 25-30 minutes or until crisp, golden and fragrant – it should hollow when you tap the bottom of the loaf with your knuckles.

Eat hot or warm in squares, segments or pulled into chunks.

makes 4-6 servings

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