It’s grape season in the garden & whilst I do love those dark purple bunches, each September I end up scratching my head as to what to actually do with them. Over the years they’ve usually found their way into chutney or thrown into the jam pan along with all of the other odd bits of fruit from the garden.
Determined to use them up a little differently this year (I mean, there’s obviously still a chutney), I figured I’d take a little inspiration from my travels in Italy. Usually (read:Pre-Covid) I’d find myself somewhere in the country during the month of September, just in time for the wine harvest season. Obviously, I’m not there for the wine, I’m more about the baked goods.
With the wine harvest though comes schiaccita all’uva. Schiacciata is simply the Tuscan word for focaccia, it literally means ‘flattened’ or ‘squashed’, usually with the fingers of the baker. Schiacciata all’uva is the traditional sweet version of the bread which is made with the seasons wine grapes, usually those which might otherwise be discarded.
I figured this is as good a use as any for my grapes (mainly because I get to eat bread, always a win!), except for my own I wanted to steer away from mine being a dessert bread & rather something that could be eaten as a savoury or a sweet. In place of a scattering of sugar in mine, I’ve added a good sprinkling of sea salt, which works well with the sweet, almost jam-like baked grapes.
This focaccia is sweet, salty, crisp on the outside, light on the inside & with pockets of olive oil & bursting grapes, there as so many flavours & textures going on here for something so simple & rustic. Use good quality black grapes for this, such as a concord or sable & don’t be tempted to remove the seeds, it’s the crunch that makes this delightfully traditional.
- 500g strong white bread flour
- 10g salt
- 10g fast acting dried yeast
- 400ml water
- 50ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
- Small handful of black grapes
- In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, yeast & salt
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients & pour in the water, followed by the olive oil
- Mix until everything is wet & well combined, the dough will be quite loose & wet
- Add some oil to a large bowl or rectangular tupperware/tin
- Empty the dough out into the oiled container & use oiled hands to fold each edge of the dough back over itself into the middle
- Turn the dough upside down so that the folds are no underneath
- Cover the dough & leave to rise for about an hour, until it has doubled in size
- Once risen, repeat the same folding process again, being careful not to knock out too much of the air bubbles & rise for another hour
- Repeat the same fold & rise process for a third & final time
- Once risen, empty the dough out into a 9″x13″ rectangular tin lined with baking parchment
- Use your fingers to gently stretch the dough out to fill the baking tin being careful not to burst all of the air pockets inside
- Cover the dough & leave to prove for 45 minutes
- Next, drop the grapes into the the dough, creating grape filled dimples in the bread before drizzling over some of the excess oil left in the container & sprinkle over the sea salt
- Bake the focaccia in the oven at 220C for 20-25 minutes until golden brown