My home's smoke detectors are very, very sensitive.
I never worry that I'll be asphyxiated in my sleep if the house begins to smolder, which is generally a big positive. But baking things at high temperatures on a stone — crusty, tasty things like pizza — sets off the smoke alarm. I'd forgotten (or blocked out) that tidbit before firing up the stove to make grape focaccia Saturday. The harsh, blaring noise forced me to throw open each and every window while flailing a kitchen towel around my head like a madwoman. It also drove my dog Gus into the backyard. He stayed as far from the house as possible, and had to be coaxed back inside.
It was worth the hassle. Tossed with freshly chopped rosemary and thinly sliced shallots, the grapes wrinkled and softened as they cooked. The natural sugars are intensified as they bake. It's a great textural experience, biting into oozing fruit, warm juices dribbling down your chin, then encountering a mellow bread with a crisp crust.
In the past, I've added a bit of turbinado sugar and crushed fennel seeds to the topping, when I'm going for a sweeter bread, or thrown in a couple of thinly sliced garlic cloves if I want a slightly more savory option. I think thinly sliced roasted fennel would make for an interesting combo — that goes onto the Things To Make in the Future List.
Grape Focaccia with Rosemary and Shallots
This recipe makes enough dough for 2 focacce, about 10 x 16 inches each. The topping quantity listed below is enough for one focaccia. Double the topping quantity if you plan to bake both, or freeze the leftover dough for future use.
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water (for dissolving yeast)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon Kosher salt
2 1/2 cups water
6 1/2 - 7 cups all-purpose flour
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups seedless grapes (red or green)
1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped
1 large pinch Kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Combine the yeast and 1/4 cup of water in a mixing bowl and stir to dissolve. Let it stand for about 10 minutes to proof.
Add the olive oil, salt, 2 1/2 cups of water and flour to the mixing bowl. Stir with a heavy wooden spoon. When the mixture comes together, knead it by hand on a floured work surface until smooth, about 12-15 minutes (a little less if you're using a mixer). Place it in an oiled bowl to rise, covered with plastic wrap or a tea towel, until doubled in size. This will take about 1 1/2 hours.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces and press into the desired shape on lightly floured or parchment-lined baking pans (mine are most often misshapen rectangles). Press your fingertips into the dough, forming small dimples. Cover and allow the shaped dough to rise for about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the dough with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the grapes and sliced shallots with a pinch of Kosher salt and finely chopped rosemary. Spread evenly over the focaccia dough, then bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating once to ensure even browning. Cool on a baking rack for 5 minutes before serving.