Monday, October 11, 2010

Concord Grape and Rosemary Focaccia

I've been obsessed with making pizza lately; I've been tossing thin crust pizzas, to be baked at the highest temperature my oven will reach, with a different array of toppings at least once a week. After a visit to the Italian fest this weekend, and some of the best thick-crust pizza of my life, I decided I need to tackle a thicker crust. Then, at Hurley's Market at Indian Lake, I found some of the most beautiful concord grapes. I've been eager to get my hands on some concords to try this Smitten Kitchen recipe, but I couldn't resist a few changes. I didn't want that thinner crust she had. My favorite focaccia is a two-inch thick, well-herbed, well-oiled, lightly golden piece of carb heaven from a local bakery, and that was what I wanted to emulate, while still incorporating the sweet-savory combination of concords and rosemary.

I started researching focaccia recipes, while in the back of my head knowing two things from previous experience: I wanted a small amount of sugar in the dough (makes it delightfully addictive), and I wanted a cold-fermentation rise. My recent experience with thin crust pizzas has shown me how much the flavor and texture develop overnight in my refrigerator, and I was hoping that would translate equally well in focaccia. From there, I went to my two most trusted sources: King Arthur Flour, and Peter Reinhart. I made a smaller loaf, and a few other adjustments, including the addition of high gluten flour. One change I will try the next time is to increase the water; this creates a sloppier dough, but also yields light, airy holes, which this dough is lacking. In some ways, I think this dough is almost too tender, white-bready. I'm thinking about nixing the powdered milk, and replacing some flour with semolina.

Now, for just a second, I want to talk about sweet, salty, tangy brilliance that is the concord grape/rosemary topping on this lovely bread. I thought Smitten Kitchen's photos looked so good, and I was dying to try this combination that reminded me of the backyard growing up: grapevines on one side, and mom's glorious herb garden on the other. Once it started baking however, doubts began to set in. It smelled glorious, don't get me wrong. But, it also sort of smelled like grape jelly pizza, so I started to become skeptical. Don't be. Come on. This is like having your wine ON your bread, and not merely with it. Go. Get in the kitchen. Make this, before concords are out of season. If you prefer a thinner crust, please refer to the Smitten Kitchen link above!

Concord Grape and Rosemary Focaccia
makes one 8x8, delightfully thick bread

1 1/3 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. high gluten flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tbl. powdered dry milk
1 tbl. sugar
1 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 c. olive oil, plus additional
3/4 c. cool water
1 c. halved and seeded concord grapes
1 tsp. fresh rosemary (I like mine very finely chopped, almost to powder)
course sugar for sprinkling
kosher salt for sprinkling

Combine first nine ingredients in stand mixer, and knead with dough hook for 10 minutes. Grease glass bowl large enough for dough to double. Add dough to bowl, covering dough on all sides with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator overnight. (Mine was in for about 20 hours).

About an hour and a half before baking, remove dough from refrigerator. Line the bottom an 8 x 8 with parchment paper, and brush the paper and sides of pan with olive olive. Stretch and push the dough into the pan, deflating it as little as possible. Brush on more olive oil, cover with towel, and allow to come to room temperature and rise.

About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Right before baking, sprinkle dough with coarse sugar, kosher salt, rosemary, and grapes. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes. Enjoy the bizarre scents wafting through your kitchen. Try to let it cool before digging in.


Carolyn said...

So very yummy. I know I always say that, but it's always true, and this one especially so.

Jessica said...

So yummy. Thanks for sharing!