Best sandwich bread, Florence-style schiacciata
” A whopping 85% hydration… transforms into a gorgeously glossy and almost fluid blob of a dough that spreads willingly, and yields elastic translucent crumbs and a terrain of air bubbles. “
I am no master baker. But dude, you listen to me on this one.
Been to Florence? No? Well, okay… sorry I guess. But this message is no less urgently relevant to you than those who have, particularly, those who have visited what is rumored to be the greatest sandwich shop in the world, All’antico Vinaio right in the center of Florence. But what makes their sandwiches good you ask, some even say the best? One could certainly make a convincing case for its market-style array of every single charcuteries, cheeses, vegetables and spreads that the great region of Tuscany has to offer. But if you ask me, as it usually turns out in the subject of sandwiches, it is the bread. More specifically, schiacciata.
What is schiacciata? And do not mistaken it with focaccia don’t you dare. Schiacciata is a Florentine flatbread that characteristically is closer to, I’d say, a pizza bianca than anything else. Ever since my visit to All’antico Vinaio years ago, it wasn’t their truffle cream or fennel salami that haunted my restless keto dreams. It was the carbs. It was the fucking carbs. So last week, I finally decided enough is enough.
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I didn’t base my recipe on any that I have seen out there, because a brief internet search had landed me on a slew of upsetting focaccia with the name schiacciata slapped on it. Yes, upset, I’m upset. Thus for the first ever in the history of inadequate amateur bakers (this woman here), I started the recipe completely from scratch. I never thought I’d say this about baking blind but dear David of Michelangelo, was I happy I did.
What sets this recipe apart from other schiacciata recipes, and I’d like to think as its secret of success, is its higher-than-usual hydration ratio. A whopping 85% (compared to 60~75% in others on the street). What this means is that for one part of dry ingredients there will be 0.85 part of liquid by weight, resulting in an extremely wet formless mixture which, after proper kneading, transforms into a gorgeously glossy and almost fluid blob of a dough that spreads willingly, and yields elastic translucent crumbs and a terrain of air bubbles. It also has a darker complexion which is not a mistake with over-baking but the inclusion of buckwheat flour, a nutty and speckley flour commonly used in Japanese noodles (saba) for its aroma and texture. Crusty, chewy, bubbly and wheaty, with flecks and sheen in its crumbs like Italian terrazzo flour, it makes four gigantic sandwiches as the way Roman Gods intended.
Not another word, I say. There’s a god damn pandemic going on out there and what better things have you got to do other than making godly sandwiches?
- 1 1/3 + 1 tbsp (330 grams) water
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) plain yogurt
- 3 cups (385 grams) bread flour
- 1/2 cup (75 grams) buckwheat or rye flour (see note *)
- 1 1/2 tsp (9 grams) fine sea salt
- 1 tsp (4 grams) instant dry yeast
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- In a stand-mixer or hand-held mixer with dough-hook, whisk plain yogurt and water until even. Add bread flour, buckwheat flour, sea salt and instant dry yeast, and mix on low until incorporated, then turn to medium-high speed and knead for another 12~15 minutes. The dough will be very wet in the beginning, sticking everywhere, but it will eventually (in the last few minutes) develop enough gluten to pull away completely from the sides and bottom of the bowl, and become very silky, shiny and elastic. When the machine stops, the dough will stick right back to the bowl, but should pull again cleanly when you scrape it with a spatula. This will be very hard to achieve by kneading with hands, but you're welcome to try.
- Cover the bowl and let rise at room-temperature until fully doubled, about 1:30 to 2 hours.Alternatively, you can let the dough rise in the fridge for 24 hours or until doubled.
- Preheat the oven on 570 F/300 C with fan-on (or as high as your oven can go which is sometimes 500 F/250 C). Rub a little oil on a large baking sheet and stick a piece of parchment paper on top. Generously dust the entire parchment paper with flour, then scrape the dough on top. Gently fold 1/3 of each side the dough over itself into a rectangular shape, like folding a letter (the long side should be the same as the baking sheet). Generously dust flour on top of the dough and cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap (be generous with flour because we don't want the dough to stick to the plastic!). Let rise again for 45 minutes to 1 hour until doubled again. If your dough rose in the fridge, it may take longer like 1:30 to 2 hours.
- Remove the plastic wrap (be careful because some small areas might stick). Use the middle knuckles of your fingers to GENTLY dent and push the dough outwards towards all four directions, keeping the air bubbles inside and dusting with flour as needed, until the dough is about 3/4" (2 cm) at its thickest part. Now use the middle knuckles again to make random punctures 2" (5 cm) apart that goes all the way through the dough to the pan. This will prevent the dough from doming too much while baking. With a spray bottle, spray a thin mist of water all over the dough and the baking sheet (helps crust forming), then drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top of the dough.
- Bake in the middle rack of the oven for about 12~17 minutes, until the crust is deeply browned and blistered. I like to use a blow-torch to further char the surface of the bread when it comes out of the oven. Let cool on a cooling rack for 30 minutes.
- A suggestion for sandwich: Burrata + mortadella + prosciutto + baby arugula + clotted cream + dust of black pepper.
* Please do not take the liberty to increase the amount of buckwheat in this recipe! Buckwheat, despite its name, is not a wheat and is gluten-free. Too much of it will deter the gluten formation in the dough, which is paramount in this bread.
ClareMarch 9, 2020 at 8:18 PM
Based just on your comments, I’m ready to try making this bread now. Thank you.
Jeff WMarch 9, 2020 at 10:54 PM
As it so happens, every ingredient for your brain child recipe is in our kitchen. Would dig hearing the size of your baking sheet. I’ve got quarter, half, and full sized sheet pans. Psyched for this.
mandy@ladyandpupsMarch 9, 2020 at 11:03 PM
Jeff, mine is a 60×40 cm sheet!
thef0liaMarch 10, 2020 at 3:14 AM
I dream about making bread like this…may the force be with me!
RhiannaMarch 10, 2020 at 6:29 AM
How is this bread for leftover storage? Could it survive a day or two on the counter, or should any extras be frozen on the first day?
mandy@ladyandpupsMarch 10, 2020 at 1:32 PM
Rihanna, this kind of bread is never good a day old, so wrap the leftover on the first day and store in freezer sounds right.
RhiannaMarch 11, 2020 at 1:49 AM
I figured! Thanks for the confirmation.
TaleLadyMarch 14, 2020 at 3:33 AM
Thank you for this recipe!
I am so intrigued that I may give it a try tomorrow. We‘ll see.
JaimeMarch 18, 2020 at 6:00 AM
Hello, any idea if it will work to swap the yogurt for olive oil? perhaps I am wrong but you are looking for a fat source, right?
mandy@ladyandpupsMarch 18, 2020 at 2:00 PM
Jaime, no the yogurt is for flavor and slight tang, not fat ;)
JaimeMarch 18, 2020 at 9:56 PM
ReMarch 22, 2020 at 12:39 PM
Poo on a stick I have no buckwheat!! Can I try with just all regular flour knowing I’m loosing some flavor?
mandy@ladyandpupsMarch 22, 2020 at 2:15 PM
Re, yeah you can use just flour but it may be a bit boring ;)
TaleLadyMarch 22, 2020 at 10:19 PM
after backing your bread three times in only one week I can say, it was great every single time! It is indeed a great sandwich bread (maybe the best possible for homebackers). I’ve never been to Florence, the taste reminds me of the maltese Ftira: slightly tangy and slightly hearty, not to sour, not to dry and with a great Crust that holds the Sandwich together. I was trying hard to find a recipe to recreat it. Thank you again!
Btw: Today I wrote a post in my (german) blog about this bread, I hope you approve.
mandy@ladyandpupsMarch 23, 2020 at 2:24 AM
Thank you so much!
manuelMarch 23, 2020 at 11:06 PM
can I substitute the yeast with a fresh one? Do you think it could work?
mandy@ladyandpupsMarch 24, 2020 at 1:14 AM
Manuel, I’m sure it can work but I’ve never worked with fresh yeast before so I don’t know how it should be adjusted. Sorry!
manuelMarch 24, 2020 at 1:42 AM
OK…I’ll let you know ;)
TaleLadyMarch 24, 2020 at 3:45 AM
Hi, as I stated above I already had the pleasure to bake it three times: it worked with fresh yeast as good as is did with the dry one. You have normally to triple the amount if you take fresh instead of dry. So I used 12 g and it was good. Another time I only 10 g fresh yeast left in my fridge: it worked anyway.
So I would recommend to use 10-12 g fresh yeast.
mandy@ladyandpupsMarch 24, 2020 at 1:19 PM
TaleLady, thanks for the info!!
manuelMarch 25, 2020 at 4:27 PM
hipstersmuseMarch 25, 2020 at 4:06 PM
Hi, this sounds amazing and I can’t wait to try it. One question about the yoghurt: if it’s for the flavour, do you think low-fat sour cream or keffir would work? Not that I have something against yoghurt, but I only have these two things in my fridge.
mandy@ladyandpupsMarch 25, 2020 at 4:23 PM
Hipstermuse, I feel like sour cream is not tangy enough? But you can surely try. Never worked with keffir before though.
hipstersmuseMarch 26, 2020 at 1:23 AM
So, I tried it with keffir as it’s a bit tangier: the tang was very subtle, overpowered by the sweetness of buckwheat, so maybe next time would substitute some water for keffir as well. The dough came out more liquid, did not achieve fully pulling off the bowl even after 30-40 mins of kneading with the dough hook. The bread came out really well nonetheless, just ate half the loaf with cream cheese and caramelized onions. The best part is that I had this bread baking phobia after a series various faile, so I’m incredibly happy this came out so well on the first try. Thanks so much!
mandy@ladyandpupsMarch 26, 2020 at 1:36 AM
Great to hear!
SNMApril 6, 2020 at 1:27 AM
Hi Mandy! This bread has been haunting me, but I don’t have yeast! Do you have any idea how to use sourdough starter instead? Thanks!
mandy@ladyandpupsApril 6, 2020 at 1:34 AM
SNM, sorry but I’ve never worked with sourdough starter before so I really dont know :(. Im sure there’s some online conversions available?
SNMApril 6, 2020 at 5:47 AM
No worries, thanks! I’ll poke around.
IsaApril 6, 2020 at 5:55 PM
Hello! Does the plain flour go in the same time as the buckwheat and bread flour? Just in the middle of making it and it’s unclear! Thanks
mandy@ladyandpupsApril 7, 2020 at 1:25 AM
Is a, there’s no plain flour, just bread flour and buckwheat flour, at the same time.
AnnaleaApril 8, 2020 at 10:45 AM
i found you today because i came across your milk tea pound cake on pinterest (saved, of course) and ended up here where i happily spent a large part of my afternoon. i love you! right now i love you! made this tonight. looks like a brain, tastes like heaven! when you said to generously flour the top for the second rising, you meant it!!! i thought i did though i didn’t. stuck to the saran. and i probably drizzled a too much olive oil over the top. live and learn. will absolutely make again. oh. and i added fresh rosemary to the dough.
mandy@ladyandpupsApril 8, 2020 at 1:23 PM
Annalea, yes this dough is very wet!
ph0nyph0neticistApril 15, 2020 at 4:19 PM
Soba? Saba is fish :D
The bread looks amazing, even though my feeble mind is still having trouble wrapping around that incredible hydration level — looking forward to trying it!!
DavidApril 18, 2020 at 10:57 AM
Made yesterday and really enjoyed it! It did take about 25 mins for the dough to stop sticking on the sides of the bowl. Also really enjoying the cookbook, should win loads of awards.
Kathy SondheimApril 21, 2020 at 5:58 AM
Look forward to making this, as this was our favorite sandwich shop in Florence!! Thank you!!
sistersandspiceApril 26, 2020 at 8:54 AM
This is my third time making this bread and it is absolutely the best bread ever. I’ve made a lot of bread but never anything like this. I followed the recipe exactly using buckwheat flour. Everyone I have served this to loves it. It’s delicious in sandwiches as you recommend and also plain or just with a little European butter. Definitely a keeper! Thank you so much for sharing <3
PamelaApril 30, 2020 at 10:07 AM
Mandy, I don’t have a KitchenAide Mixer, can I still make this by hand?? I want to use rye flour instead of buckwheat. I’m going to try! I’ll let you know,how,it,goes. It looks faaaabulous!
mandy@ladyandpupsMay 1, 2020 at 3:39 AM
Pamela, technically you could but you’ll just have to knead it vigorously for 45 min of you’re up for it ;)
KathrynMay 1, 2020 at 4:26 AM
Gosh, I made this. And it did not look like yours, the crumb was not as good. But damn, was it ever tasty! Even my 91 year old neighbor who is very picky liked it! I love buckwheat anything and this really hit the spot! Thanks again.
Andy PMay 1, 2020 at 8:56 PM
Jy is kwaai girl. To translate: You know what you want, so do I. I love this recipe. Do I still have to subscribe.
HeatherJune 7, 2020 at 1:51 AM
I did it! I did it! I finally did it (breaking down in happy tears)! I’ve disappointed myself with so many kitchen efforts this quarantine, but this time, I followed the recipe and was patient and it totally paid off.
I love buckwheat, and getting to use it in a yeasted bread was new for me. This looks beautiful: both the mahogany exterior as well as the buckwheat flecked interior, full of air pockets. The crust has a crunch that is in proportion to the chewy interior; this makes it work well for a sandwich. If the crust is TOO crusty you can’t make a sandwich because it won’t yield to your bite; all of the goodies inside will squish out.
Thank you for this recipe, for vetting it thoroughly so that we can make this at home and be satisfied. This is the kind of loaf that I would make and gift to someone–they’d have to be worthy of course.
mandy@ladyandpupsJune 7, 2020 at 3:13 AM
TonyJune 14, 2020 at 1:28 AM
I’ve made this bread maybe five times already. It’s incredible… thank you so much for the recipe. My oven has three baking options — heating element only (bake), heated fan only (convection) and both together (convection roast). When you say heat the oven to 570 or as hot as it can go with the “fan on,” do you mean both fan and heating element or only fan? My oven goes to 550, and I’ve always made this with both the heating element and the fan on. However, the bread cooks in 10 minutes tops before the crust starts burning. Also the bread always comes out slightly lopsided, with some tall fluffy areas and some thin areas that makes it hard to slice it for sandwiches. Do you think this might have something to do with my baking temperature (maybe the crust is setting too quickly before the interior has a chance to expand)? Should I adjust the temp downward a bit in order to be more in line with your cooking time? Thanks!!
mandy@ladyandpupsJune 15, 2020 at 12:24 AM
Tony, I use the convection setting on my oven (fan on with top and bottom heating). But of course if you feel that it’s too hot in your oven, you can turn it down a bit. The bread won’t be all even thickness either but there shouldn’t be very thin areas unless it’s shaped that way.
LiaJune 28, 2020 at 9:35 AM
May I use Rye flour that is not whole grain?
mandy@ladyandpupsJune 28, 2020 at 1:57 PM
Lia, yes of course.
adrienneAugust 1, 2020 at 12:02 AM
I just finished making a half batch (baked in a quarter sheet pan), and this is so incredible! Thank you for figuring this recipe out :) Probably the strangest bread dough I’ve worked with, but so delicious.
JoeNovember 16, 2020 at 7:52 AM
With great respect, I don’t understand where you are getting your Bread Flour Weights. King Arthur, which is pretty much the gold standard for flour gives 120 grams per cup for Bread Flour. Here you list 385 grams for 3 cups. Where’s the extra 25 grams coming from? I bought your book and love it, but your Mochi Challa Bread lists 3 cups at 410 grams. Where’s the extra 50 grams coming from?
mandy@ladyandpupsNovember 16, 2020 at 2:17 PM
Hi Joe, that’s just what the scale came up with my flour when I measured the cups. I would go with the weight instead of volume.
Addie AllisonJanuary 24, 2021 at 5:22 AM
I want this bread to be served at my funeral. I’ve made it a dozen times, and it has become a staple bread in my kitchen. Love this recipe so much!
PattyApril 2, 2021 at 10:51 AM
Can I use plain Greek yogurt? I’m having trouble finding plain yogurt.
mandy@ladyandpupsApril 3, 2021 at 1:50 AM
Patty, you can thin it out w a bit of water then measure the amount needed :)
ShellNZJune 13, 2021 at 9:41 AM
Mandy you’ve made my day !!!! Only just found your website today [and its a beauty !! ] – been jumping around your recipes and having a good chuckle at some of your explanations / writing – kudos to you !! You are hilarious and obviously in alignment with your own soul – all the best
LindaNovember 13, 2021 at 8:42 AM
Just came back from Florence, and have been searching out a recipe for this style of bread. I substituted rye flour for the buckwheat because that is what I had. I baked it at 550 degrees F in a convection oven. I did spray a fine mist of water and used olive oil on the top. The crust was not as firm as I had most mornings in Florence. Any suggestions?
mandy@ladyandpupsNovember 13, 2021 at 1:14 PM
Linda, unless you have a professional steam oven or a super big square cast iron pot to baking it like a loaf of bread, otherwise there just isn’t enough steam to creat the same level of crust unfortunately.
DaleSeptember 20, 2022 at 1:22 AM
Made the bread as detailed, was perfect.
How was the sourdough search? I thought the same. Could replace the yogurt tang with sourdough? Add to it? Hmm…. Not as much mixing but more resting time? Lots of variables.
Picking your brain before venturing off with experimentation. :^)
mandy@ladyandpupsSeptember 20, 2022 at 2:28 AM
Dale, I have never worked with sourdough starter so I have no idea how to adapt it. But if you have success, let us know!
Nick PorroMay 12, 2023 at 5:43 AM
I’ve been baking breads for many years. Prior to reading your Schiacciata article, I tried two other internet recipes that resulted in substantial failures. Then I tired your recipe and it turned out magnificently! My compliments on your baking skills and on translating those skills into a recipe that reads easily, and delivers the results. The Schiacciata, cut into sandwich size and split open, to form a pocket makes for a perfect tomato, mayo, prosciutto, and brie sandwich. We shared the Schiacciata with our Italian group, some from Florence, and they loved it.