Emanuela Regi is a pastry chef, recipe developer and cooking instructor. In 2006, she founded La Dolce Peonia, a small, charming pasticceria, which has evolved over time into an eclectic, itinerant culinary school. La Dolce Peonia (meaning “The Sweet Peony,” a name that’s reminiscent of Emanuela’s studies in agricultural sciences) currently offers sold-out classes where people can learn to make basic pastry preparations as well as complex desserts. Although originally located in Pistoia (about 30 kilometers from Florence), La Dolce Peonia now holds classes all over Tuscany.
Emanuela started cooking at a young age and decided to devote her career to pastry after taking an internship at Pietro Capecchi’s bakery in Pistoia. She later attended classes held by pastry chef Stefano Laghi at Istituto Etoile in Chioggia, and several workshops in France. What I like about her style is that she beautifully combines the latest trends, French techniques and great local ingredients into mouthwatering tarts and pastries. Her well-loved Cioccoricotta (a soft cake made of local ricotta cheese and chocolate) is to die for.
Emanuela lives in Pistoia but comes to Florence weekly. When in town, she likes wandering around the stores on Via dei Servi and Via del Corso, and never fails to stroll in the Oltrarno, especially in the districts of San Frediano and Porta Romana. Giardino dell’Orticoltura – a beautiful garden located behind Piazza della Libertà – is also on her list.
When Foods of Florence asked Emanuela about her favorite places to eat in town, she said, “I’m particularly fond of the vegetarian restaurant on Via delle Ruote, Il Vegetariano. I Due Fratellini – a popular sandwich joint in the city center – is often my choice for a quick lunch; if I have more time, I head to Il Santo Bevitore, a cosy ristorante on Via Santo Spirito, where I first met some foodie friends several years ago.”
Emanuela shared with us a spring version of traditional schiacciata all’uva, where apples and strawberries are used in place of grapes. She chose this recipe because schiacciata all’uva was the treat her mother brought home when coming into Florence for work in the fall, a time of the year Emanuela loves. This schiacciata can be made with different combinations of fruit, especially when plump and juicy.
Apple and Strawberry Focaccia (Schiacciata con Mele e Fragole)
By Emanuela Regi
For the dough:
- 300 g flour O
- 100 g Manitoba flour
- 10 g fresh yeast
- 100 g sugar
- 20 g extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
- 400 g apples
- 400 g strawberries
- 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon anise seeds
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
In a big bowl, combine the flours.
Melt the yeast in water and then add the water/yeast mixture to the flours.
Start kneading the dough, adding more water if needed.
Add the salt, the sugar, and the oil.
Work the dough until smooth and soft (if sticky, add more flour).
Cover and allow to rest for about 90 minutes.
In the meantime, wash the fruit carefully, then slice the strawberries and the apples (you can avoid peeling the apples if they are organic).
In a bowl, combine the fruit with the lemon juice, the anise seeds, the sugar and the corn starch.
Take slightly more than half of the dough and roll it out to fit the baking pan.
Cover with the sliced apples and strawberries, reserving some for the topping.
Roll out and hand stretch the remaining dough to fit the pan and cover with the remaining fruit and a little oil.
Allow to rest for another thirty minutes.
Bake in a 200° C oven until golden (about 1 hour).
written by Gaia