Let me start out by saying I am obsessed with Concord grapes. If you haven’t had one before, please do us both a favor and find them. You squeeze them gently (or greedily, in my case) out of their papery deep-purple skins, and inside remains an almost jellied interior that tastes just like bottled grape juice.
This is *slightly* embarrassing, but I found myself in the car yesterday in a trance, an empty cardboard pint on my lap, my fingers stained from the pound of grapes I had just eaten. Like I said, I’m obsessed. So when I looked up recipes with these beauties I was so intrigued when I found Smitten Kitchen’s version of the great Claudia Fleming’s focaccia recipe.
Reading her recipe I had imagined a spongy bread infused with olive oil, perfumed with rosemary, with little puddles of these perfect grapes. I made it and it was everything I imagined and more. Don’t believe me?? You’ll just have to make it for yourself!
Don’t be put off by the idea of making bread dough from scratch; it’s just a few kneads and you’re done. Plus look at this, isn’t this worth any extra effort??
Combine yeast, warm water, milk, and sugar in a bowl for about 10 minutes. The recipe said the water should be between 105-110 degrees, but I’m dying for you to find me a college student with a kitchen thermometer. My method? If the water feels warm to the touch, you’re good.
After 10 minutes there should be little frothy bubbles in the liquid, so pour in your olive oil and mix in the flour and salt with a wooden spoon.
Scoop the sticky dough out onto a (clean, not sticky from beer please) floured surface and knead for 8 minutes. I know, that seems like eternity, but the kneading motion is strangely theraputic. If the dough is sticking to the counter, just add a little more flour.
Put the dough into a very well oiled container, and brush with more olive oil. Olive oil is the theme here so don’t be shy.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
When the dough is beautifully risen and puffy, you’re forced to do the unthinkable.. you have to squish it down. I almost couldn’t bear the thought of deflating something I was so proud of, but I gave myself a quick pep talk and went for it.
Divide the dough into two balls and put them on a cookie sheet. What next? Another coat of olive oil of course!
Let them rest with a tea towel on them for 20 minutes, and then press them into 8″ rounds using your fingers.
Focaccia wouldn’t be focaccia without the dimples, so make little craters in the dough as you stretch it into the circle.
Let rise for another 1 1/4 hours in a cool place.
While the dough is rising, it’s time to cut and seed the grapes. This may sound easy, but these babies have the most annoying seeds encased in the middle of them. They’re too hard to leave in there, and too small to easily get them out.
Cut them in half using a super sharp knife, and with the tip of the knife dig out the seed(s). They’ll try and wriggle out of their skins, but I did my best to keep them on for the vivid color they add.
A final coat of olive oil slicks the dough, then sprinkle on the rosemary, grapes, salt and sugar.
The finished product? A flatbread with a hint of rosemary and an almost grape jam like topping. I just happened to have some brie in the fridge, and let me tell you the combo of cool salty brie on the warm herbed-sweet flatbread was to die for.
This recipe took my homemade bread V-card; I was scared as anyone is on their first time, but after the second rise I felt like an old bread making pro. Moral of the story? Don’t be intimidated!
Since I didn’t modify the recipe at all, I’m just going to direct you over to Smitten Kitchen to follow her directions. If anyone has concord grape recipes they’d be willing to share, please post them in the comments below so I can give them a try!