Scacce Ragusana takes its name from the southern Sicilian province of Ragusa, where variations on this have been made for centuries. Fillings vary from tomato and onion to ricotta, sausage or eggplant.
Many Sicilian dishes are simple, yet intensely flavorful, like this scacce, a flatbread with swooping layers packed full of soft, delicate fennel-scented ricotta cheese.
- 3 cups (500 g) durum wheat flour
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 scant cup (240 ml) warm water
- 1½ tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
- 1 kg (2.2 lb) fresh ricotta
- ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds, plus extra for garnish, optional
- Olive oil, for drizzling
- Sea salt
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time: 1 hour
1. For the dough, combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Gradually add some of the water, then pour the olive oil into the water, and add the rest of the water, working it in with your free hand little by little as you do. Once all the water is added, mix well with your hands, then work the dough until it forms a soft, smooth ball. Set aside to rest in a bowl covered in plastic wrap for 1 hour.
2. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F).
3. For the filling, in a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, parsley and fennel seeds.
4. Once the dough is ready, divide it into 2 equal parts, then roll one part out onto a lightly floured surface until it is as thin as possible, making a shape that is somewhat rectangular, even if the corners are quite rounded.
5. Use half the ricotta filling for this first scacce. Using a rubber spatula, spread some ricotta mixture on the dough in an even layer, leaving a 2.5 cm (1 in) border, then drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Fold the long sides of the dough in towards the middle so that they slightly overlap in the centre, Using your spatula again, spread an even layer of ricotta mixture over the dough on one side only, leaving a 1-inch (2.5 cm) border again, then drizzle with olive oil. Using your finger, run some water along the borders of the dough. Lift the side of the pastry without filling and fold over to close like a wallet, then press down on the edges to secure filling. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet
6. Repeat with the other piece of dough and remaining filling. Brush scacce with a little olive oil and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden.
7. Remove from oven and let cool a little (you can sprinkle over a little sea salt and a few more fennel seeds, if you like), then cut into pieces and serve. Buon Appetito!