September 19, 2002
The Grape Taste of Sukkot
As a child, I loved the bunches of grapes that hung from the palm leaves covering the roof of the sukkah. These small outdoor huts were built for Sukkot, the Jewish holiday that gives thanks for a fruitful harvest. They symbolize the huts used by harvest workers during biblical times. Although the sukkot were also decorated with fruits, sheaves of grain and autumn vegetables, it was the grapes that fascinated me.
Perhaps that is why, on a recent trip to Italy, I was so delighted to find, Schiaciatta Con L'uva (sweet flat bread with grapes) in Tuscany. The name refers to the somewhat squashed appearance of the pastry. Flavored with olive oil and fresh rosemary, this delicacy is covered with luscious purple, black or red Sangiovese grapes. You can make it with concord or seedless grapes; it will not be quite as authentic, but just as delicious.
Bar Marconi Sweet Grape Bread
Bar Marconi is just 20 minutes outside of Florence. Almost every day during the grape harvest, a large sign appears in bakery windows: "Oggi, Schiaciatta Con L'uva" ("Today, Grape Bread"). Their Schiaciatta resembles giant chocolate chip cookies. They sell it by the slice or the whole round pastry.
1 package active dry yeast
1Â¼2 cup sugar
1 cup warm water
1Â¼3 cup olive oil
3 1Â¼2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1Â¼4 cup minced fresh rosemary
3 cups concord or red grapes
1Â¼3 cup sugar
In a measuring cup, stir yeast and 1Â¼2 cup of the warm water with pinch of sugar and let stand five minutes until frothy. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, blend remaining water, olive oil, eggs and remaining sugar and mix well. Add yeast mixture, 3 cups of the flour, salt and rosemary, and blend until smooth and dough begins to come together. Dough will be a little sticky.
Transfer to a floured board and knead in remaining flour. Add grapes and gently knead into the dough. Add additional flour if dough is too sticky. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1Â¼2 hours.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and divide in half. Stretch each half into a circle (9 or 10 inches in diameter) and arrange on two lightly oiled baking pans. Cover pastry with a towel and let rise until doubled, about one hour. Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 375 F and continue baking for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Makes two pastries.
Judy Zeidler is the author of "The Gourmet Jewish Cook" and "The 30-Minute Kosher Cook." Her Web site is http://members.aol.com/jzkitchen.