Best sandwich bread, Florence-style schiacciata

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 carbsIt was the fucking carbs.  So last week, I finally decided enough is enough.

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?

Best sandwich bread, Florence-style schiacciata

Yield: makes 4 large sandwiches

Ingredients

    DOUGH (85% hydration): strongly recommend measuring by weight
  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. A suggestion for sandwich: Burrata + mortadella + prosciutto + baby arugula + clotted cream + dust of black pepper.

Notes

* 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.

https://ladyandpups.com/2020/03/09/best-sandwich-bread-florence-style-schiacciatta/
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46 Comments
  • Clare

    March 9, 2020 at 8:18 PM Reply

    Based just on your comments, I’m ready to try making this bread now. Thank you.

  • Jeff W

    March 9, 2020 at 10:54 PM Reply

    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.

  • thef0lia

    March 10, 2020 at 3:14 AM Reply

    I dream about making bread like this…may the force be with me!

  • Rhianna

    March 10, 2020 at 6:29 AM Reply

    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@ladyandpups

      March 10, 2020 at 1:32 PM Reply

      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.

      • Rhianna

        March 11, 2020 at 1:49 AM Reply

        I figured! Thanks for the confirmation.

        • TaleLady

          March 14, 2020 at 3:33 AM Reply

          Thank you for this recipe!
          I am so intrigued that I may give it a try tomorrow. We‘ll see.

  • Jaime

    March 18, 2020 at 6:00 AM Reply

    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@ladyandpups

      March 18, 2020 at 2:00 PM Reply

      Jaime, no the yogurt is for flavor and slight tang, not fat ;)

      • Jaime

        March 18, 2020 at 9:56 PM Reply

        Ups! thanks

  • Re

    March 22, 2020 at 12:39 PM Reply

    Poo on a stick I have no buckwheat!! Can I try with just all regular flour knowing I’m loosing some flavor?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      March 22, 2020 at 2:15 PM Reply

      Re, yeah you can use just flour but it may be a bit boring ;)

  • TaleLady

    March 22, 2020 at 10:19 PM Reply

    Dear Mandy,
    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.

  • manuel

    March 23, 2020 at 11:06 PM Reply

    Hello!
    can I substitute the yeast with a fresh one? Do you think it could work?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      March 24, 2020 at 1:14 AM Reply

      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!

      • manuel

        March 24, 2020 at 1:42 AM Reply

        OK…I’ll let you know ;)

        • TaleLady

          March 24, 2020 at 3:45 AM Reply

          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@ladyandpups

            March 24, 2020 at 1:19 PM

            TaleLady, thanks for the info!!

          • manuel

            March 25, 2020 at 4:27 PM

            Awesome!

  • hipstersmuse

    March 25, 2020 at 4:06 PM Reply

    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@ladyandpups

      March 25, 2020 at 4:23 PM Reply

      Hipstermuse, I feel like sour cream is not tangy enough? But you can surely try. Never worked with keffir before though.

      • hipstersmuse

        March 26, 2020 at 1:23 AM Reply

        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!

  • SNM

    April 6, 2020 at 1:27 AM Reply

    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@ladyandpups

      April 6, 2020 at 1:34 AM Reply

      SNM, sorry but I’ve never worked with sourdough starter before so I really dont know :(. Im sure there’s some online conversions available?

      • SNM

        April 6, 2020 at 5:47 AM Reply

        No worries, thanks! I’ll poke around.

  • Isa

    April 6, 2020 at 5:55 PM Reply

    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@ladyandpups

      April 7, 2020 at 1:25 AM Reply

      Is a, there’s no plain flour, just bread flour and buckwheat flour, at the same time.

  • Annalea

    April 8, 2020 at 10:45 AM Reply

    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.

  • ph0nyph0neticist

    April 15, 2020 at 4:19 PM Reply

    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!!

  • David

    April 18, 2020 at 10:57 AM Reply

    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 Sondheim

    April 21, 2020 at 5:58 AM Reply

    Look forward to making this, as this was our favorite sandwich shop in Florence!! Thank you!!

  • sistersandspice

    April 26, 2020 at 8:54 AM Reply

    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

  • Pamela

    April 30, 2020 at 10:07 AM Reply

    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@ladyandpups

      May 1, 2020 at 3:39 AM Reply

      Pamela, technically you could but you’ll just have to knead it vigorously for 45 min of you’re up for it ;)

  • Kathryn

    May 1, 2020 at 4:26 AM Reply

    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 P

    May 1, 2020 at 8:56 PM Reply

    Jy is kwaai girl. To translate: You know what you want, so do I. I love this recipe. Do I still have to subscribe.

  • Heather

    June 7, 2020 at 1:51 AM Reply

    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.

    Cheers

  • Tony

    June 14, 2020 at 1:28 AM Reply

    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@ladyandpups

      June 15, 2020 at 12:24 AM Reply

      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.

  • Lia

    June 28, 2020 at 9:35 AM Reply

    May I use Rye flour that is not whole grain?

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