RSS Feed

Tag Archives: grapes

Sweet Grape Focaccia



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!

Ingredients 

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

Olive oil

Method

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.

Hazelnut Grape Tart

IMG_3540

I devised this recipe, based on a couple of similar ones, because I have just acquired a rectangular flan tin! I love the simplicity and regularity of the shape of the tart when baked.

It’s also very easy to cut into portions, small or large, to serve. My tin is about 36 cm long x 13 cm wide.

Ingredients

Pastry

140g plain flour

50g ground hazelnuts

100g butter, diced

50g caster sugar

1 free range egg yolk

Filling

1 cup ground almonds + 1 tablespoon of flaked almonds

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup plain flour

100g butter, softened

2 free range eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

2 cups seedless red grapes, halved

Icing sugar, for dusting

Method

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.

For the pastry, put the flour and ground hazelnuts into the food processor and add the butter. Process until the mixture looks like bread crumbs, then add the sugar and pulse. Add the egg yolk and 1-2 tbsp cold water, then pulse briefly until the dough comes together.

Roll out the dough between 2 pieces of cling wrap with a rolling pin to fit the rectangular flan tin. Removing the cling wrap, carefully ease the dough into the tin. Make sure the dough comes all the way up the sides of the tin and press dough into the sides. Lightly prick bottom all over with a fork. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes (or freeze for 10 minutes).

Line the shell with baking paper and fill with pie weights. Bake until sides are set and edges are pale golden,15-20 minutes.

Carefully remove baking paper and weights and bake shell until  golden all over, 10-15 minutes more. Cool completely.

For the filling, pulse ground almonds, flaked almonds and 1/4 cup of the sugar in the food processor until just mixed. Set aside, then use the processor to beat the butter and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then mix in vanilla and almond extracts. Mix in almond mixture until just combined.

Spread filling evenly in the tart shell and scatter the cut grapes over it, lightly pressing them in.  Bake until filling is puffed and golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. While still hot, dust tart with icing sugar, then cool completely.

Serve at room temperature with double cream and/or ice cream.

IMG_3608

IMG_3625

Baked Cheesecake with a Sour Cream Topping

IMG_0616

IMG_0617

This is a baked cheese cake and was first made by one of Quirky’s siblings, a very good if somewhat infrequent cook. The recipe hails from the Sydney County Council in the 1960s.

This version comes from a handwritten recipe from a family cookbook. I have left the measurements in Imperial, as this rather adds to the charm of the recipe. They can be easily converted.

I would suggest using vanilla extract or vanilla paste, and would also recommend the use of a food processor.

Ingredients

Crumb Crust
I/2 lb plain sweet biscuits
1/2 level teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 level teaspoon cinnamon
3 oz butter

Cream Cheese Filling
1 lb cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 eggs

Topping
1 carton (1/2 pint) sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 dessertspoon lemon juice
1 level tablespoon sugar

Method

Crush biscuits very finely and add nutmeg and cinnamon. Melt butter in a saucepan, remove from heat and quickly stir in biscuit crumbs.

Press firmly into greased 8″ springform tin bringing mixture within 1/2 ‘ from the top of the tin.

Put cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice in a bowl and beat well. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

Pour mixture into uncooked crumb crust and bake in a moderate oven at 180 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven.

Beat together the topping ingredients and pour over hot cheesecake. Return to oven and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Cool, then store in refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Decoration

Decorate with sugar frosted fresh fruit and chocolate leaves. I used cherries, strawberries and black grapes for this particular birthday cheesecake. To make the sugar frosted fruit, coat fruit in lightly beaten egg white then dip in caster sugar.

To make the chocolate leaves, dip camellia leaves in melted dark chocolate, leave to set in the fridge, then gently peel away the leaves leaving the chocolate imprint intact.

Serves 10 -12.

IMG_0618

%d bloggers like this: