Recently I held another bread making workshop for friends. I really enjoy passing on the knowledge I have gained about creating beautiful bread from scratch, all from my own hands on experience and trial and error baking.
We talked a lot about sourdough, as I am a self confessed sourdough nut! My friends who are scientists, were really impressed when I showed them the wonderful growth that happens when you feed a sourdough starter!
However, I was keen to show my friends how easy it is to make bread using commercial dried yeast. So we made two breads, a simple free form shaped loaf and a sweet grape focaccia, both made with the same dough.
Here is the recipe for the grape focaccia. It’s a really easy, quick bread. It’s not traditional, but a simple adaptation of a bread recipe that you can knock out in a short time, if you’re looking for a sweet bread fix!
425g strong white flour
10g table salt
7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
325ml tepid water
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
Enough black grapes to cover the focaccia
Optional – a few sprigs of lemon thyme
Place the flour in a large bowl. Add in the salt at one edge of the bowl and the yeast on the other side. This is because the salt can stop the yeast from working.
Add the tepid water and mix together to form a dough, using your dough to mop up any flour sticking to the bowl. Now knead the dough for a minimum of 5 minutes up to 10 minutes. You can knead the dough in the bowl, stretching and folding the dough. An easy way to do this is to gently grab a section of the dough, stretch it and fold back over the remainder of the dough in the bowl.
Turn the bowl 90 degrees and repeat. Keep this up until the dough is noticeably smooth. A good way to see if the dough is well kneaded is to do the window pane test. Gently pull a little section of the dough with both hands and the dough should stretch without breaking and be translucent.
Cover the dough and rest for 45 minutes to one hour until the dough has doubled in size. My favourite way to cover the dough is with a plastic shower cap, but a tea towel will do as well.
Take the dough out of the bowl and move on to a floured surface. Now for the shaping of the focaccia. Flour your hands and shape the dough into a rough rectangle, pulling it into shape.
Lightly oil a baking tray. Place the shaped rectangular dough onto the oiled tray. Loosely cover, this time with a large tea towel, and leave to prove for an hour, or until it has doubled in size and springs back when pushed.
During this hour prove, preheat the oven to 200 degrees C fan forced, at least 20 minutes before baking.
Remove the tea towel from the proved dough. To make the recognisable focaccia dimples, gently press your fingers all over the dough.
Scatter the brown sugar over the dough. How much you scatter is up to you, but you need at least 2 tablespoons. Remember there is no sugar in the bread dough. Put the grapes over the dough, again using as many as you like. At this point, you can scatter a few sprigs of lemon thyme over the focaccia. The lemon thyme adds a lovely piquant flavour. Dribble a little olive over the focaccia dough.
Place the focaccia into the oven on a low or middle shelf for 35-40 minutes. The focaccia should be a deep brown and the grapes dark and oozing juice.
Serve warm on its own, or with cream or ice cream. I like to serve slices of the focaccia smeared with sour cream.