Happy Hour: Grape Focaccia and a Bramble

Welcome to Happy Hour my darlings!  Kick off those shoes and get yourself into something comfy. Personally I’ve chosen a pair of pajama pants that are old enough that the black fabric has a distinct greenish look to it.  The color doesn’t bother me when hanging out at home, but taking them out of the drawer I noticed a small hole on the leg.  It is tiny still, but it means a replacement is needed soon. I’ll have to look into that this weekend.  But for now, the comfy pajama pants remain.

The Bramble has made an appearance before and as I very much enjoy it will probably make many returns.  As a recipe refresher my version of a Bramble is:

Bramble

Ingredients:

1 ½ oz Gin

½ oz Chambord

1 oz lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

You put everything into a cocktail shaker add a bit of ice and shake for all you are worth before pouring it into the glass of your choice.  I went with a coupe glass.  I think this one might have actually come as a promotional glass with a bottle of Bombay Sapphire at some point. It is a nice shape and holds enough liquid inside that one glass is plenty.

I felt the raspberry and lemon notes would pair well with the grape focaccia today.  I thought about picking up a wine to go with it, but the grapes were very sweet tart on their own and I kind of didn’t want anything competing with them.  I think if I had chosen mellower grapes I would have gone with a wine.  As it is the Bramble seemed to have enough of a fruitiness to pair well without really being competition, flavor wise.

I know some of you saw the title and were lifting some eyebrows at the sound of grape focaccia. That’s okay, my baby doll did as well, but then it baked up so sweet and salty that he decided it was okay in the end.  And while I had the Bramble listed above, he ended up having a beer with it because he wanted something earthy to go with it while I wanted something to pair with the fruitiness of the grapes.

There is a lot of wait time, but overall this focaccia recipe is really simple.  It just takes time.  You will need a stand mixer for this.  I’ve written out the recipe for those with stand mixers.  If you don’t have one can always knead the dough by hand.  If you are making this, check your times! While not a lot of this is active time, there is a lot of resting and rising so I generally make this when I know I’m going to be in the house for a while.  It does actually provide some nice breaks to the day if you are working from home.

Grape Focaccia

Ingredients:

6 tsp dry yeast

Pinch of sugar

2 cups warm water

¼ cup (or so) olive oil

5 cups of flour, plus more for dusting

2 tsp kosher salt (more for sprinkling)

12 ounces red seedless grapes (make sure they are seedless)

Parchment paper

It is large but it does freeze well.
  • Put the yeast, water and sugar in a bowl.  Stir to mix and then let sit to get foamy (5 min)
  • Into the bowl of a stand mixer place the flour, salt and foamy yeast mix. Mix with a dough hook until a sticky dough forms and pulls away from the sides (3-5 min)
  • Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Liberally flour your counter top and transfer the dough to it.  It will be stiff to work with but try to form it into a rectangle (ish) shape that is about twice the size as you start it with. 
  • Fold the dough in threes like a letter so that your dough forms a rectangle.  Brush the top with olive oil and transfer it to the center of your parchment covered cookie sheet oiled side down onto the parchment.
  • Brush olive oil onto the top of the dough Cover loosely with cling film and let it sit 1 hour.
  • (don’t worry if your rectangle is a little wonky.
  • After one hour come back to the dough and push it out until it fills the cookie sheet in a flat even surface.  Once flattened. Lightly press the grapes into the top of the dough. 
  • Leave to sit uncovered 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 500.
  • After the dough has rested for an hour, brush olive oil over the dough and grapes and sprinkle with salt.
  • Just before you put the dough into the oven, turn the temperature down to 450 degrees. 
  • Bake for 10 minutes, turn the pan in the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the dough is a light golden brown.
  • Cool 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

While we used grapes in this one for a sweet and savory play, this is my standard focaccia recipe. I forget where I picked it up, but I have adjusted it with rosemary and garlic to go along with roast lamb, mixed it with a variety of peppers and served it with chili, and used it plain as a base for all sorts of toppings.  It is a good basic recipe that really takes well to whatever flavors you want to throw at it.  Just remember not to be stingy with the olive oil.  It may look like a lot, but this bread needs it. It is the only fat this bread has in it. Once you have the basics down, go crazy with the flavors and make it your own.

So that my darlings is our happy hour.  Personally, I like how it turned out.  It also suits the weather this week.  It is surprisingly cool tonight, but I didn’t want anything very heavy.  This has the weight of bread that I like in cooler temperatures, but it is lifted by the roasted grapes into feeling like early spring rather than the middle of winter. And I have to confess, I really do like baking bread.

I hope you enjoy whatever it is you have planned for your Friday night and the weekend beyond.


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