Make sourdough grape focaccia!
Nothing says Autumn like fresh grapes. I’m not talking about those aroma-less, seedless excuses for grapes you can buy in the grocery store all year long. I’m talking about big, plump, seedy, perfumed grapes. Concord grapes, for example. Freshly picked. There’s a fruit you can smell from a mile away. Plop those on top of focaccia with rosemary and anise seeds and bake it in the oven; suddenly your whole house will smell absolutely amazing. Breath it in; that’s the smell of harvest time.
3 2/3 cups bread flour (or all purpose)
2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups starter
6 tbsp olive oil
1 cup lukewarm filtered water
2-3 medium bunches Concord grapes (or other flavorful dark grape variety)
2-3 large sprigs rosemary, leaves picked
~ 1 tsp anise seeds (to taste)
1/4-1/2 cup sugar for sprinkling
1/2 cup olive oil for drizzling/greasing pan
In a large bowl or the bowl of your mixer, combine the flour and salt. Add the sourdough starter, olive oil, and water. Mix with a spoon or the paddle attachment of your mixer until well mixed and smooth.
Switch to the dough hook and knead for 5-7 minutes, or knead by hand. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky to clear the sides of the bowl. Try not to add too much flour, the dough should be pretty sticky but not overly so. I kneaded by hand, and initially my dough was much too wet:
So I added flour until I could gather it into a sticky ball. On the other hand, if your dough is too dry, add more water until you achieve the right consistency.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface (if you didn’t knead by hand) and pat it into a rectangle about 6 inches wide. Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes.
Stretch and fold the dough. To do this, coat your hands with flour. Grab opposite sides of the rectangle and stretch the dough to about twice its size. Then fold one end 2/3 of the way in, and fold the other end on top like a letter. It should still be a rectangle shape.
Spread a small amount of olive oil over the rectangle, dust with flour, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes. Stretch and fold again, then let the dough rest for 30 minutes. Stretch and fold one more time, then let the dough rest for 1 hour. It will puff up but not double in size.
Line a 12 x 17 inch sheet pan with parchment paper and spread 1/4 cup of olive oil over the parchment. Gently transfer the dough rectangle onto the pan. Drizzle another 1/4 cup of olive oil over the dough, and use your fingertips to dimple the dough. As you dimple, spread the dough towards the corners of the pan. If the dough becomes too elastic, allow it to rest for 15 minutes or so and then continue. It’s alright if you can’t get the dough to completely fill the pan. As it proofs it will expand.
Make sure the surface of the dough is covered with olive oil. Press in your grapes covering as much or as little of the surface as you like. (Bear in mind that the grapes shrink a little when cooked. I wish I had put more on mine.) Sprinkle rosemary leaves and anise seeds over. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow the dough to proof for 2 1/2-3 hours, or until it rises to almost 1 inch in thickness. If the dough needs to be spread more, dimple it with your fingers until it fills the pan, then allow it to rest for another 30 minutes before baking.
[Now: you could bake your focaccia after this final rise, or you could let it proof in the fridge overnight. This is what I did. However, I let mine proof overnight *before* its final rise. I wouldn’t do it this way again, because the dough does not rise in the fridge, and then you have to wait for it to come to room temp before it begins its final rise. Too time consuming IMO. The overnight proofing allows for more sourdough action. Yum. If you don’t like the sourdoughy flavor though, this step is unnecessary. I’m a personal fan of sourdough flavor.]
Just before sliding focaccia into the oven, sprinkle the whole surface liberally with sugar. This creates a nice crunchy shell on the top.
Preheat the oven to 500° during the last rise. Place the pan on the middle rack and lower the temperature to 450°. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake for another 5-10 minutes. The focaccia will be done when the top begins to turn light brown.
Remove the pan from the oven and transfer it from the pan to a cooling rack. Allow it to cool for 20 minutes (if you can!) before slicing.
Have a slice of harvest!