this delicious street food bread is hugely popular in his native Ragusa, combining rustic simplicity with incredibly delicious indulgence. The mountain community of Ragusa, with white stone cube buildings that wouldn’t look out of place in North Africa, is home to a famous bakery called Giummarra, known for producing the best scaccia in the entire country. I talked to the baker there on a visit and he told me that the scaccia is apparently a distant relation to the Tunisian brig – albeit baked rather than fried. My homemade version is the result of a lot of trial and error, but I’m happy to say that I think it’s similar to Giummarra’s.
For the dough
strong white flower 250g
fine sea salt 6g
fresh yeast 10g
caster sugar 1 teaspoon
lukewarm water 300-330ml
olive oil 2 tbsp, plus extra for brushing
For the filling
olive oil 1 tbsp
onions 2, finely chopped
garlic 1 cloves, finely chopped
Cherry tomatoes 500 g, quartered
basil a large handful, leaves picked and torn
provolone or caciocavallo cheese 150 g, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the flour in a bowl with the salt and mix well. Mix the yeast and sugar with 100 ml of water and stir 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. Place the dough on top and knead for about 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and silky. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover and let rise for at least 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size. The longer it rises, the better, as the flavor will improve over time.
While the dough is rising, make the filling. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and gently fry the onions and garlic until soft but without color. Add the cherry tomatoes, season well and stir. Cook for another 10 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to break down into a thick sauce. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cooled, stir in the picked basil.
Preheat the oven to 200C fan/gas mark 7. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured work surface. Roll out into a large circle with a diameter of 80 cm and a thickness of 4 mm. Divide three quarters of the tomato filling over the dough, leaving a free edge of about 4 cm around the edge. Cover with three quarters of the cheese. Fold in 2 opposite sides of the dough circle so that the edges meet in the middle.
Spread the remaining tomato filling in the center to cover the joint, followed by the remaining cheese. Now fold the opposite ends inwards so that they cover 2cm of dough. Start with the end furthest from you and fold the dough in half to form a nice package.
Place on a baking tray and brush with olive oil. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Let cool before slicing.
I suggest serving the scaccia street food style wrapped in wax paper and washed down with a cold beer.
From Sicily by Ben Tish (Bloomsbury)£26)