Monday 16 October 2006

grape & aniseed schiacciata

Zorra from Kochtopf has brought it to the attention of the food blogosphere that Monday 16 October is World Bread Day.

In honour of this day, Zorra has invited everyone to bake or buy bread and to write about it. There are two round-ups with 113 entries in total!

World Bread Day '06 - roundup - part 1 (A-J) entries from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Israel, Italy & Japan.

World Bread Day '06 roundup - part 2 (L-Z) entries from Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Senegal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK & the USA.

So without further ado, here’s my contribution to World Bread Day!

Grape & Aniseed Schiacciata

Schiacciata is a traditional Tuscan flatbread. Schiacciare means “to flatten or crush” in Italian and describes the foccacia-like shape of the bread. This bread can be savoury (rosemary and salt; zucchini; tomato paste) or sweet.

It seems that people have been making this kind of bread in Tuscany for quite some time and Etruscan frescos even show the bakers in action before Rome was even a twinkle in Romulus’ eye.

This grape version Schiacciata con l’uva is traditionally made around the wine harvest using wine grapes. I used Muscat grapes because they were seedless and a pretty colour for the recipe, but any wine grapes will do.

Grape & Aniseed Schiacciata
Recipe from Gourmet Traveller.
80g sultanas
2 tablespoons dry Marsala
7gm dried yeast (sachet)
2½ tablespoons caster sugar
400g plain flour
400g black or red wine grapes (seedless)
2 teaspoons aniseed
Olive oil for brushing
Sugar for sprinkling
1. Combine sultanas and Marsala in a small bowl and soak for 1½ hours.
2. Meanwhile. Combine yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar and 180ml warm water in a bowl and stand in a draught-free place for 10 minutes or until yeast foams.
3. Combine flour, remaining sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl.
4. Add yeast mixture and stir until just combined.
5. Add half the grapes and knead until mixture is well combined. The dough will be very sticky.
6. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Stand in a warm, draught-free place for 1 – 1½ hrs or until dough has doubled in size.
7. Preheat oven to 190’C.
8. Knock down dough, transfer to a baking paper lined oven tray and shape into a flat oval.
9. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with aniseed and then press drained sultanas and grapes into the surface.
10. Cover with a tea towel and stand in a draught-free place for 20 minutes.
11. Sprinkle with caster sugar.
12. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until golden.
Suggestions: Serve warm or at room temperature. Great hot with butter. Best eaten on day of making.
Notes: My dough did not double in size, in fact it hardly rose at all. In the end I turned the oven on low for 10 minutes then turned it off and kept the door open with the dough inside. The warmth allowed it to rise a little, but not much. It all turned out fine in the end though.

So just what is World Bread Day?

Apparently the International Union of Bakers and Bakers-Confectioners got together and declared today World Bread Day in order to celebrate the importance and magnificent sustenance that bread has provided people all over the world and throughout history.

Bread has stood as a symbol for basic human needs, political solidarity and has even taken on religious connotations. The idea behind this day was to make people curious about bread, its history and its bakers.

Bread started in Neolithic times and the earliest forms were unleavened and probably cooked grain paste. More modern versions of the original flatbreads include the tortilla (Mexico), chapatti (India), dosa (India), oatcake (Scotland), johnnycake (US), and injera (Ethiopia).

For images of some of the world’s flatbreads, click here.

Dough left to rest could naturally become leavened since there are yeast spores absolutely everywhere. It is likely that leavened bread was created accidentally in prehistoric times, but the first evidence we have for leavened bread is in Ancient Egypt around 4000 BCE.

The discovery of leavened bread could also come hand and hand with the brewing industry, with either the yeast from the brewing grain travelling to nearby bread dough and causing it to rise or from using brewed liquor rather than water to mix a batch. Roman historians noted that the Gauls in Germania and the Iberian peninsula used the foam from their beer to make lighter bread.

Mostly commonly though, leavening would have come from retaining a piece of dough to include in the next batch (a starter). This is how the sourdough tradition was started and some San Francisco sourdough bakeries have enjoyed continuous production over 150yrs, developing a particularly sour flavour. This actually comes from a lactobacillus bacteria that lives along side the yeast. It feeds on its by-products then excretes lactic acid, producing the sourness in sourdough. In fact, the San Francisco sourdough has such a pronounced flavour that the lactobacillus responsible for sourdough is called Lactobacillus sanfrancisco.

For images of some of the world’s leavened breads, click here

In English, the word bread derived from a Germanic root of the verb “to break” and even today the word for bread in Germanic languages are very similar (German = Brot; Dutch = brood; Swedish = bröd; Norwegian = brød).

The word loaf derives from the Old English hlaf which in turn came from Teutonic. The derivatives of this word are still used in some European languages today, such as Finnish leipä, Estonian leib, and Russian хлеб (khleb).

Bread’s importance can be seen in ranks of status, since the English word “Lord” comes from the Old English hlaford via hlafweard which translates to “loaf guard”, an important position indeed!

Another sign of bread’s importance within European culture was the administration of pieces of bread in church to represent Christ’s body. This can still be seen today by the symbolic communion wafers during Catholic ceremonies.

In medieval times, Europeans would be served their meal on stale slices of bread which could be eaten after the meal. It took a few centuries for people to switch from bread to real wooden, ceramic or metal plates.

It’s funny to think that in Europe white bread was always seen as a status symbol because only a wealthy family could afford refined flour. Thesedays, it's the opposite with more affluent families adopting the more nutritional darker or organically made breads whereas white bread is seen as something tacky (I have to admit, I love white bread - guilty).

In Europe, most bread is made from common wheat but other grains include durum, spelt, emmer, rye, barley, maize and oats.

It is interesting to note that in some Asian languages the word for rice is synonymous with the word for food in general. In some European languages, the word for bread is also the word for food.

According to Wikipedia, Germany wins the prize for the highest consumption of bread, because in one year, 82 million Germans consume:
- 1.1 million tons of bread
- 5,024 million bread rolls
- 454 million pretzels

So, what are the top bread eating nation’s top bread choices?
1. Rye-wheat Roggenmischbrot
2. Toast bread Toastbrot
3. Whole-grain Vollkornbrot
4. Wheat-rye Weizenmischbrot
5. White bread Weißbrot
6. Multi-grain Mehrkornbrot
7. Rye Roggenbrot
8. Sunflower seed Sonnenblumenkernbrot
9. Pumpkin seed Kürbiskernbrot
10. Onion bread Zwiebelbrot

And before I sign off, here’s some bread trivia direct from Wikipedia:
• The anime and manga Yakitate!! Japan chronicles the quest of a young baker to create a bread that tastes better than rice so that the Japanese will accept it as a staple food.
• The phrase "the greatest thing since sliced bread", to mean something of superlative quality, is common in the UK and United States, there is also at least a German and french equivalent.
• Lithuanian folk saying: "Bread cries when a lazy person eats it" refers to how difficult it was to produce bread, from sowing to baking, in antiquity.
• The word "companion" literally means one with whom bread is shared (com = with + pani = bread).
• In some Asian Christian churches, the people eat rice cakes instead of bread served in the holy communion.
• In Turkmenistan, President Saparmyrat Niyazov renamed the word bread çorek after his mother Gurbansoltan eže.

So happy World Bread Day to all!

For more bread recipes from around the blogosphere, have a look at my bread themed Recipe Carousel and be sure to visit Zorra's round-up of 113 bread entries!!!

World Bread Day '06 - roundup - part 1 (A-J) entries from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Israel, Italy & Japan.

World Bread Day '06 roundup - part 2 (L-Z) entries from Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Senegal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK & the USA.




  1. That looks incredible! You read my mind and put butter on it :D

  2. That looks so good, especially the slightly crusty edges! I've always wanted to have a go at baking something like that.

  3. I totally missed out on World Bread Day : (
    But your bread looks divine, I think I could probably eat the whole thing.
    And excellent write up as well.

  4. Beautiful bread there!! What an info on bread too! Idli, Dosa are from south India!Loved the link on the list of world breads!! Thank you!!

  5. This is beautiful! I just returned from Tuscany and had something similar--flat bread with grapes, except it was savory, with salt, rather than sweet. Maybe it's my American palate, but I didn't love the salt-grape combo. Yours looks perfect, sprinkled with sugar, yet not too sweet.

  6. This looks great! I bet it would be delicious with shaved parmiggiana.

    I particularly like the Lithuanian saying.


  7. when i saw the photo of this bread in a gourmet traveller special "italian desserts" i knew i'd make it one day. it was just too pretty not to try.

    thanks for all your comments!!!

  8. Such a gorgeous bread and a great combination of flavours. Love it!

  9. Your recipe looks wonderful. I like the addition of the marsala and the sultanas.


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