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Musical pairing – Holy Moses by Washington
This is one of those recipes I’ve wanted to share for a couple of years now; the anticipation of fall and the harvesting of concord grapes makes me feel nothing less than giddy. But Concord grape season is short, my attention span is short and one of three things has happened: (a) I completely miss said Concord grape season, (b) I remember Concord grape season but can’t find any at my local store and (c) by some miracle I actually remember Concord grape season, find said Concord grapes and make this fabulous recipe . . . but then I forget to take photos . . .
The original recipe was tweaked by Deb of Smitten Kitchen fame (you do know she has a brand-spankin’ new book out, right??!) and for two years I followed her instructions to the letter – including excising those pesky seeds that Concord grapes are known for – well actually, The Professor was assigned that lovely task. Removing those seeds are critical as they’ve been known to break a tooth of The Professor’s wife – at which point a trip to the dentist is scheduled and suddenly this beautiful pan of focaccia now costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 . . . yes, ouch.
But now there is an alternative. This year, I discovered the new-to-me Thom-Cord grape – a hybrid of a Thompson seedless and a Concord grape. This grape still has seeds but they’re teeny-tiny, like those found in the Thompson variety and yet still has the intense grape flavor Concords are known for. No need to spend hours removing the seeds unless you’re bored and need something to do – in which case, call me, I’ve got a house that needs cleaning.
Since I’m now gluten-free, I’ve made a few tweaks of my own and am quite pleased with the results; in fact, we’ll be serving this gorgeous bread at our Thanksgiving Open-House. And it pairs beautifully with any type of bubbly, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec or whatever your favorite cocktail happens to be.
NOTE: You need to make the dough at least one day ahead so plan accordingly.
Additionally, this will make enough dough for 2 large sheet pans of focaccia OR you can certainly use leftover dough to make breadsticks or pizza crust.
And finally, this gluten-free version does not store well so you’ll have to enjoy every last bite yourself . . . or you can invite a few friends over!
GLUTEN-FREE GRAPE FOCACCIA WITH ROSEMARY
Recipes adapted from Gluten-Free Girl and Smitten Kitchen
Makes 2 large sheet pans of bread
FOR THE BREAD:
- 750 grams of your favorite Gluten-free All-Purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons psyllium husks (ground Chia seeds will work too)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 3-1/2 cups whole milk, warmed to 110°
- 1 egg, beaten
TOPPING FOR FOCACCIA:
- 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cups halved Thom-Concord grapes (if using regular Concord, red or black, grapes you must seed them!)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary needles
- 4 tablespoons raw or another coarse sugar
- 3 teaspoons coarse sea salt
FOR THE BREAD:
- Combine the flour, psyllium (or Chia if using), yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Pour the honey and olive oil into the dry ingredients; add egg and with mixer on low, add warmed milk – start with 2 cups and see what your batter looks like. We live in the Midwest where it’s a drier climate so I’ve found that I consistently use 3-1/2 cups liquid but you might only need 2 or 3 cups of liquid. The final batter will look like thick waffle batter – it will not look like regular bread dough. I highly recommend you watch this video to get a sense of what your bread batter should look like
- Set mixer speed to medium-high and mix for 3 to 4 minutes
- Place the dough in an olive-oil greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerator overnight. This step allows your bread to develop that lovely yeasty flavor that you want in bread
- The next day, remove dough and let it sit on the counter until it comes to room temperature – about an hour; you’ll notice that your ‘batter’ has now developed into a nice ‘kneadable’ dough
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees
- Divide the dough into 2 pieces
- Spread 3 Tablespoons of olive oil onto each sheet pan
- Plop a dough ball onto each pan and, with your hands, spread the dough into a rectangle shape leaving ‘dimples’ with your fingertips – the dough may not fill the entire sheet pan and that’s ok – but what you need to pay attention to is the thickness – the dough should be about ½-inch thick, a little more is ok but don’t spread it less than ½-inch
- Drizzle or brush another 1-2 Tablespoons over the top of the bread and cover lightly with a piece of plastic wrap; let rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes to allow the dough to rise a bit more. Gluten-free flours will not have the same ‘lift’ as their wheat counterparts – hence, my instructions on the thickness; you may see only a slight difference in the second rise but that’s fine
- Divide and scatter the grapes between both sheet pans; do the same with rosemary, then raw sugar, then salt
- Bake for 15-20 minutes; start checking at the 15-minute mark
- You’re looking for a nice brown, crispy bottom (the oil will almost ‘fry’ the bottom of the focaccia) and the top should be golden brown and the grapes should release their juices giving this bread a lovely aubergine color
- Cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving