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Grape Focaccia with Rosemary (+Autumn)

I love this time of year. I know that it portends some seriously bad weather ahead, but for now I don’t care. I like putting on a scarf and walking around our beautiful new neighborhood amazed by the colors that a tree can produce. I am also pretty enamored with the foods available at the market right now: baskets of apples, and squash and especially concord grapes.

Last year I made a tart [1] using concord grapes which was very delicious and worth a try. This time around I decided to make this foccacia, which I have had my eye on since last season. This was surprisingly wonderful. It falls somewhere between sweet and savory. The sweet concord grape flavor is nicely balanced by the rosemary and sea salt. This would be great with some nice cheese and a glass of wine or as an afternoon snack with tea.

One thing that will annoy some of you (and it annoyed me), is that you have to seed the concord grapes. Not a simple task. So, be patient, put on some good music and seed away. The end result is totally worth it. I’ll be honest though, I cursed a few times as I tried to remove the tiny seeds from their gelatinous protectors.

Grape Focaccia with Rosemary (Claudia Fleming, The Last Course [2])

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the water, sugar, and yeast. Let the mixture sit until foamy, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the milk powder and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the softened butter to the yeast mixture and mix well. Add the flour mixture and set the mixer to lowest setting. Mix for 2 minutes. Attach the dough hook , raise speed to medium-low, and knead for 8 minutes longer. The dough will seem really wet.

Brush a large bowl with a generous amount of the melted butter. Scrape dough into the buttered bowl and turn to coat with butter. Brush more of the melted butter on top of the dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a cool place (65°F) until the dough doubles in bulk, 1 1/2-2 hours.

Press the dough down with a floured hand. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and form it into a ball. Place it on a large baking sheet brushed with melted butter and brush top with more of the melted butter. Cover the ball with a clean, damp kitchen towel and set aside for 20 minutes.

Divide dough in half  and shape into two balls. Dip your fingers in melted butter and press and stretch each ball into a 8-9 inch circle. The dough should be slightly dimpled from your fingers. Brush tops with remaining melted butter, cover with the damp towel. Let the dough rise in a cool place for 1 1/4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Top the dough evenly with the grapes, rosemary and the remaining 2 tablespoons of salted butter bits. Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar and the salt. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and puffed around edges. Let cool before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.