A recipe for olive oil focaccia stuffed and topped with concord grapes in the style of a schiacciata con l’uva, with a salted honey glaze and rosemary.
Sunday treated us to one last summer day, warming everything until we were clad in shorts and tank tops, soaking up every last ray. We rode our bikes in a long line down the street to the university, golden-hued leaves cascading to the ground as we pedaled past. We ate dinner outside on a table lit with candles before heading off to bed, our limbs exhausted from the day’s efforts, skin still glowing with warmth under the covers.
Monday we woke up to a biting wind that had noses hidden under sweatshirt collars and fingers tucked into coat sleeves. The forecast predicts we’ll hit below freezing this week. Plans to pull every last bit in the garden are underway, along with a menu restructuring to accommodate the influx.
The windows are closed now after a summer of letting the air flow through the house, and in the evenings I find myself getting creative with excuses to turn the oven on for a bit of warmth in search of hygge. I whip together chocolate pumpkin muffins and sweet potato biscuits on the regular. In fact, I’m desperate to create this comfortable, secure space in my home. Nearly to the point of despair.
If I’m allowed to be completely honest for a moment, the walls feel like they are crumbling. All the things I built falling to pieces. As I stare at my children’s heads, growing ever so closer and even surpassing my own, I often find myself wondering where I went wrong, how I ended up here. In the midst of all of this, I keep moving. Slowly plodding forward on this path I have chosen, attempting to put plaster into the holes in the walls, to again find that bit of comfort in the middle of a storm.
This is where I found myself the night before I was to leave for a work trip, feeling as though I needed to hit the pause button so I could rush around and fix things before they became worse. I stared into the fridge and noticed the bowl of grapes, so lovingly chosen by my children at the farmers market a few days prior.
I sunk my hands deep into the dough, dusting our small kitchen’s surfaces with flour as I worked and the kids squealed because their sweet cousin, Mila, was there to entertain. They helped pull tiny seeds from the centers of grapes. We plucked herbs from our now quiet garden. Somewhere in there, as the dough rose on the stovetop while I wiped clean the flour-antiqued surfaces, the world started to slow ever so slightly so that I could appreciate the scene set on the foundation amidst the crumbling walls. Oven on, house warmed against the chill in the wind, I brushed honey over the bread, salted the top, and created my own bit of hygge.
I chased the light that was dipping below the tree line, traded a piece of bread for a bowl of tomatoes with a friend-turned-neighbor, and returned home.
Concord grapes have a distinct flavor, strong and musky. They taste of grape flavor, the dark purple grape juice, of grandma’s homemade jelly you spread on your morning toast. Those are all concord grapes. If you can’t find them at the market, try your local co-op or specialty grocer, and substitute dark wine grapes in a pinch. I don’t want you to miss out on the salted honey crust on this bread.
Concord Grape Focaccia with Salted Honey Glaze
- 1 cup warm water (110ºF)
- 1½ teaspoons yeast
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- olive oil
- For the filling and glaze:
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
- 1¼ cups concord grapes or wine grapes, halved and seeded if desired
- sea salt
- In a medium- to large-sized bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and honey. Allow the yeast to proof for five minutes.
- Once the yeast has proofed, add in the flour and salt a ½ cup at a time, stirring as you go until a smooth dough forms. Gather the dough into a ball and place on a floured surface. Knead 8-10 times to form a smooth ball.
- Lightly oil a medium bowl with the olive oil. Place the ball of dough inside, coating with olive oil. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for at least one hour or until doubled in size.
- When the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 450ºF.
- Prepare the filling. Warm the honey, olive oil, and rosemary in a small saucepan until combined. Remove from heat.
- Take the dough, cloaking it by tucking the edges under into a smooth circle. Using oiled fingers, press it into a long oval, about 18-24" long, on a piece of parchment. Brush one side of the oval liberally with the honey and olive oil mixture. Sprinkle on 1 cup of the halved grapes, brush with honey, and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Fold the dough over and pinch the edges firmly to secure.
- Brush the top of the dough liberally with the honey and olive oil glaze. Place the remaining grapes across the top. Add pieces of the rosemary from the glaze. Sprinkle with sea salt.
- Slide the parchment onto a preheated baking stone or cookie sheet. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until golden brown.
- Slice and serve warm.