Saturday, October 01, 2011

Concord Grape Focaccia

I can be prone to hyperbole, especially when talking about my latest recipe obsession. But if I may: this concord grape focaccia is the Best Thing Ever. For reals. To illustrate: I have made it twice in the past two weeks, even though it involves painstakingly seeding several bunches of concord grapes (a process that takes much, much longer than you'd think it should). But the end result is so heavenly that it's totally worth it. I'm thinking of making it again. Right now.

This recipe is a riff on schiacciata con l'uva, a Tuscan flatbread topped (or stuffed) with grapes. But instead of subtle European wine grapes, it uses our own native-bred, growing-in-everyone's-backyard, blustery Concord grapes. The focaccia is dusted with both salt and sugar, creating a savory-sweet combination that, when paired with the rich purple grapes and airy-yet-crusty dough, is totally addictive. It makes for an elegant hors d'oeuvre or cocktail party snack, or a slightly sweet dessert to enjoy with your glass of wine or coffee. You can substitute store-bought pizza dough for the focaccia in a pinch, though I can't guarantee that the end result will be the Best Thing Ever. Perhaps second best.

And in other news of Italian-inspired deliciousness, my roasted figs with dolcelatte were profiled on Design*Sponge. You can check out the recipe, along with photos far more beautiful than those that come out of my kitchen, over here.

Concord Grape Focaccia

yields two 9" focaccia, enough for appetizers for 6-10, depending on their level of hunger/restraint
note: this recipe is started the day (or two) before you bake it

1 cup water
1 tsp active yeast
1 Tbsp coarse salt, divided
3 Tbsp sugar, divided
1/4 cup olive oil, divided, plus additional for greasing the bowl and handling the dough
2 ¼ cups (10 ounces) bread flour 

heaping cup halved and seeded concord grapes (warning: seeding the grapes may take longer than you think)
2 tsp fresh rosemary needles

Combine the water and yeast in a bowl, and let sit for a minute or two to allow the yeast to soften and bloom. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and the flour. Mix with a large spoon until fully blended, then cover and let sit for 5 minutes to fully hydrate. Mix for an additional minute or two, until the dough becomes smooth. Grease another bowl with a bit of oil, and, using a spatula, transfer the dough into the bowl. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

After the dough has rested, using wet or oiled hands, reach into the bowl under one end of the dough, and pull it gently to fold the dough in half. repeat with the other three sides of the dough, then flip the whole doughball over. Let rest 10 minutes, then repeat 2-3 more times. After the last folding, cover the bowl, and refrigerate overnight, or up to three days. These folds may seem a bit fussy, but achieve the dual purpose of folding in some air holes into the dough, and firming it up without using additional flour.

About 1 1/2  - 2 hours before you’d like to bake (depending on how warm your kitchen is), take the dough out of the refrigerator, and allow to come to room temperature for ~45 minutes to take the chill off. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or brush them heavily with olive oil. Gently divide the dough into two balls (they might be a bit more like blobs then balls), and place them on the prepared sheets. Let sit 10 minutes to relax, then, with oiled or wet hands, use your fingertips to sort of pat-and-push the dough out into 9” circles from the inside out, dimpling them without totally compressing them (if they resist, you can pat them out a little, let the dough rest ~5-10 minutes, then pat them out a little more and repeat as needed -- it’s important you press the dough out to out least this diameter, otherwise it will be too thick to cook properly).  Let rise for 45 minutes to an hour (depending on the heat of your kitchen). While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 500.

When the dough has risen, brush the focaccia with the remaining oil. Sprinkle them with the grapes, rosemary, and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons coarse salt. (that's 1 Tbsp/tsp per focaccia). Place the trays in the oven, then turn down the heat to 450. Bake for ~20 minutes, until the focaccia has cooked to a golden brown (it may seem a little underdone in some parts around the grape divots, but as long as the non-grape parts are browned it will be fine). Let cool slightly, then serve warm or at room temperature (ideally within a few hours for optimum deliciousness).


  1. This definitely sounds interesting! Love your photos =)

  2. I have always loved my pesto focaccia, but time will come that almost all of my friends have been served this one way or the other...Just about time to practice another great focaccia version. Thanks!

  3. I'll finally get my grapes this week, when my parents visit. I had my eye on a concord grape pie, too... but the seeding, I am not looking forward to that. This goes on the list, I can't wait to taste it!

  4. This looks so interesting and delicious! I think it would be a nice change for my tastebuds and the focaccia looks dead on and perfect!