I love bread. If you read my blog for any length of time, sooner or later you will learn this fact. Bread is definitely my weakness. I love French bread, Italian bread, sourdough bread (my personal all-time favorite), crusty artisan breads, and… focaccia bread.
I had the most delightful focaccia of my life (so far, and having never been to Italy) at an Italian restaurant in Jerusalem, but this particular recipe is one of the best I’ve found so far for making it at home. It’s different, but really good. The ever-so-slightly crispy exterior gives way to a light, soft, and airy interior. With a top covered in rosemary, sea salt, and sweet grapes, it’s just lovely.
Honestly, I made this bread without the grapes for the first several times because I wanted a simple focaccia to serve with dinner. It was still delightful with only rosemary and sea salt. But this week I picked up a pound of Thomcord grapes at Trader Joe’s, and I had to experience this interesting combination of flavors. I ate it warm, with a few slices of a very sharp artisan cheddar as a snack, and I’m here to tell you that it was really wonderful. You’ll love it whether you choose to use grapes or not.
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
3/4 cup (177 ml) warm water
2 tablespoons (30 ml) warm milk
1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons (5 grams) active dry yeast
2 cups (250 grams) white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) sea salt
4 tablespoons (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups grapes, halved and seeded (Concord, red, or black… I used Thomcord)
1 teaspoon dried or fresh rosemary, crushed or chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons (8 grams) raw sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons (9 grams) coarse sea salt
In a 2-cup glass measuring cup or a small bowl, combine warm water and milk. Stir in sugar and yeast, and let sit until the yeast is bubbly, about 10 minutes. Pour into the bowl of a KitchenAid fitted with the dough hook. Add the flour, salt, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix together on low speed until combined. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl with a spatula to make sure all of the flour gets mixed in. On medium speed, knead the dough for 8 minutes. While the dough is being kneaded, mix together the rosemary, raw sugar, and coarse sea salt in a small bowl and set aside for the very last step.
Once the dough has been kneaded, place it in a well-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.
With floured hands, press the dough down and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the top with olive oil and let it rest for 20 minutes, covered in plastic wrap. Once it has rested, dip your fingertips in olive oil and stretch the dough out over the baking sheet. You will have a large, rather flat piece of dough, and it will look dimpled from being stretched with your fingers. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick spray, cover the dough, and let it rise again for about 1 hour.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Brush the dough with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Scatter the grapes evenly over the dough, and then sprinkle the rosemary mixture over the grapes. Bake for about 15 minutes. The crust will be golden and puffed. Remove from the oven and cool. The focaccia can be served warm or completely cooled.
Happy September!!!!! :)