The Antipasti with Many Names
At the restaurant we call them scaccia, although in various towns in Sicily you will see them sold as scacciata, focaccia ragusana, and scacce. They are all variants of a stuffed flatbread and ever since encountering them in and around Ragusa, they have become a dependable staple of our menu.
Despite the divisions in nomenclature, those who enjoy scaccia can usually be divided into two camps: proponents of leavened or non-leavened dough. Our initial forays into the dish were based on trips to Modica, in which the scaccia dough is made of durum flour, lemon juice, white wine, and olive oil. This mixture is put through a pasta sheeter or rolled out by hand into thin rectangular sheets. Alternatively, those in the leavened camp will argue that the dough should resemble that of pizza or focaccia, thereby containing yeast that will cause it to rise once baked.
Regardless of dough style, both versions begin as long, thin sheets similar to pasta. Traditional fillings include tomato, onion, and sausage, as well as local cheeses like caciocavallo or fresh ricotta. At the restaurant, we have experimented with countless permutations of ingredients, from the aforementioned classics to fillings like smoked swordfish or prosciutto. Once filled, the two ends of the dough are folded towards the middle, and then the entire scaccia is folded in half, giving the cross-sections an intricate, swirled appearance. We bake these folded flatbreads for about fifteen minutes or until browned. After allowing them to cool, we slice them and reheat them for our hot antipasti selection, though they are delicious at room temperature as well.
The resulting flavors and texture of leavened versus unleavened scaccia doughs are noticeably different, enough so, even, to warrant the militant allegiance to one over the other. While the pizza-like dough has a soft interior beneath its crisp outside, the unleavened style remains almost like a pastry in its delicate texture. While the choice of which style is superior is ultimately up to the diner, we like to prepare it both ways, enjoying these scaccia for their own unique and delicious merits.