Although spring has sprung and flowers are blossoming on all the herbs in my garden, the nights are still cool enough for comfort food, though not the heavy ragus of winter. As I always have some home-prepared guanciale affumicato (smoked pigs’ cheeks) in my fridge, now that the rosemary is in flower—the blue and violet rosemary flowers are not only pretty and fragrant but edible—I will use these two ingredients to turn a tasty schiacciata toscana into a delicious salty, smoky, sweet treat for an aperitivo, the recipe I offer here.
The flavours of flowering rosemary and guanciale affumicato are the perfect match. It is this combination—the sweet-smoky guanciale mingled with the slightly medicinal yet highly fragrant rosemary—that rules my variation on an old Tuscan favourite, schiacciata. Served while the guanciale is still warm, it will melt in your mouth.
Schiacciata toscana al rosmarino in fiore e guanciale affumicato
For the dough:
500g plain white flour
350ml warm water
20g fresh yeast
30ml extra-virgin olive oil
For the topping:
50ml extra-virgin olive oil
A generous handful of rosemary in flower
50g smoked guanciale
Weigh the flour into a mixer and add the 5g of salt. Using the dough hook mix together for a few minutes to distribute the salt into the flour well. Meanwhile, place the 350ml of warm water into a steel bowl and crumble in the yeast. Leave in a warm place to start the fermentation process, which should take about 15 minutes, resulting in a frothy mixture with bubbles on the surface.
Pour the yeast and water mixture into the flour and mix on slow, drizzling in the oil at the same time. Continue to mix for five minutes. This should result in a wet dough that sticks to the sides of the bowl.
Leave the dough to rest and double in size: leave in the mixing bowl, cover with cling film and put in a warm place. To double in size it will take between 30 minutes and an hour depending on how warm the day is.
Once the dough has doubled in size, remove the cling film and with a floured fist, punch the air out of the dough. Turn out onto a marble surface or stainless steel bench, adding a little flour in order to stop the dough from sticking. Knead for two minutes then leave the dough to rest for another two minutes. Divide the dough in two equal parts, roll into balls and stretch out onto two 30cm pizza trays. Push the dough into the trays using your fingertips and drizzle extra-virgin olive oil onto the surface, making it easier to stretch out. Once the dough has been stretched out to reach the borders let rise again until doubled in size.Sprinkle with the extra salt, chopped rosemary and flowers, and thin slices of guanciale affumicato. Place in a hot oven, 240 degrees Celsius, for around 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes, cut into wedges. Serve warm.
Wine match: Scalabrone Bolgheri rosato DOC 2013
With a blend of 40 percent cabernet sauvignon, 30 percent merlot and 30 percent syrah, the 2013 vintage is intensely aromatic with an herbaceous nose mixed with ripe red berries. It has a freshness and fruitiness to contrast with the sweet saltiness of the smoked guanciale.