Nothing beats the smell of freshly cooked bread, the perfect antidote to a cold, damp winter’s day. I get enormous pleasure from making all kinds of bread, and although I bake most days of the year, I bake a lot more during the winter, and freeze a lot for use later in the year.
This very simple version of Tuscan schiacciata is what southern Italians call focaccia, and what we call gnoccho (because my mother-in-law hails from Emilia Romagna and that’s what they call it). This is the simplest dough recipe ever. We use the same recipe for pizza. You can put all number of toppings on it; red onions, caramelised in balsamic and thyme is my favourite. You can add any of the following to the dough: olives, sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped cured meats, lumps of old cheese, a handful of freshly chopped herbs, anything really.
I use my food processor for making the dough or if I am a bit cross and/or emotional, I make it by hand.
Makes one 30cm gnocco
- 500g (17 oz) plain flour (any flour really)
- 12.5g (0.4oz) fresh yeast or 15g (0.5oz) dried yeast
- 350ml (12 fl.oz) warm water
- 1 tsp salt + extra to sprinkle on top
- 2 tbsp olive oil + extra to drizzle
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
If you have a food processor with a dough hook, add the flour, salt and olive oil to the bowl. If not mix by hand and incorporate the water until you have a ball of dough then knead. If adding any extras to the dough add them now.
Slowly add the yeasty water until it combines to make a ball that comes away from the sides.
Tip on to a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, or until bouncy and smooth.
Put into an oiled bowl, drizzle a little oil over and cover loosely with cling film. Put somewhere warm until it doubles in size (about an hour).
Tip the dough on to an oiled 30cm pizza tray and push outwards to the edges using your fingertips. If you wish to create a lighter dough you can then cover this with a clean tea towel and leave to rise again. Sprinkle with a little oil and a teaspoon of salt and place in a hot oven (220 degrees c/430 f) for 25 – 30 minutes. It’s done when the bottom is as golden as the top.
We make gnoccho in our cookery classes at our Tuscan agriturismo and it has never gone wrong yet! If you are interested in cooking with us in your Tuscan vacation, please get in touch.
The gnocco on the right was made with sun-dried tomatoes, and the one on the left had coarse salt sprinkled over pre-baking. Make yours any way you like!
If you’re planning a trip to Tuscany, and you would like to know more about staying at our agriturismo in the Chianti hills, Podere Patrignone, we have a large villa and 5 villa apartments to rent. As we live here all year, we’re always willing to give you a help and advice. We hope you can join us!