Honey Wheat Grape Focaccia with Rosemary

Honey Wheat Grape Focaccia with Rosemary (c)2012 La Domestique

As I mentioned in my last post, the first thing that came to mind when I stumbled upon a pile of Concord grapes at the farmer’s market was focaccia. In its most basic form, this Italian flatbread starts with a dough of white bread flour, yeast, water, and salt, moistened with a generous amount of olive oil. After rising for a bit, the dough is pressed out into a baking sheet in the shape of a rectangular slab. Dimples are created by pressing into the dough with your fingertips, making little crevices for flavorful olive oil to pool. Half an hour in the oven yields a golden brown flatbread, slightly puffed, with a tender, moist, and chewy crumb that’s perfect for a convivial table served in torn and rustic pieces or cut into neat squares. Focaccia is often adorned with toppings, from a simple sprinkling of rosemary leaves and sea salt or olives, to this recipe I baked last year topped with caramelized onions, pears, and blue cheese. During the fall harvest, grapes are a popular topping for focaccia, and the jammy fruit compliments the savory olive oil dough beautifully. So many recipes for grape focaccia can be found on the web, like this one by Melissa Clark, but I like to keep it simple and resist the urge to turn this bread into a dessert. I enjoy balancing the savory and sweet, which makes for a more versatile bread that can be served on the dinner table with an autumn roast meat, alongside a bowl of root vegetable or cauliflower soup, or as a grilled cheese panini.

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Concord Grapes

Concord Grapes from the Boulder Farmer's Market (c)2012 La Domestique

The thought of grapes hadn’t even entered my mind as I passed through the crowded farmer’s market, eying the mysterious Japanese eggplant and passing my fingers over plump tomatoes. Amongst the regular cultivars I’d grown used to seeing over the summer, my eye halted at the sight of a newbie – midnight blue grapes coated in white dust. Could it be? Concords! I couldn’t hide my excitement from the farmer, eagerly (but tenderly) gathering up a couple pounds of the delicate grapes. Here in Colorado, the season for such fruit seems to pass with the blink of an eye. Feeling like I’d struck gold, I headed home with my riches. Most of the Concord grape’s flavor is concentrated in its thick skin, and an abundance of pectin means this fruit is well suited to preserving as a jam (find Rachel Saunders’ recipe over at Tasting Table). My first desire was to bake a Concord Grape Focaccia, which you’ll find here on the blog later this week. A few of you who follow Ladomestique on instagram had some great suggestions for cooking with Concord grapes. Talley of House to House blog was kind enough to steer me towards Melissa Clark’s recipe for grape focaccia in the New York Times. Joelle of Home Sweet Homemade suggested grape juice. Gail likes Concord jam. Tori had a fantastic idea for incorporating the fruit into a strudel, and @bablanch pickles the grapes.

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