This is an Italian bread that’s traditionally made when grapes are harvested for winemaking. It’s like focaccia, only covered with jewel-like grapes. It’s a little bit sweet and a little bit savoury, the perfect bread to eat with a good hunk of firm cheese.
- 14 g dried active yeast
- 400 ml water, at about 26°C
- 100 ml olive oil
- 600 g baker’s (strong) flour
- 2 tsp table salt
- 500 g picked seedless red grapes
- robust extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 3 tbsp rosemary leaves
- 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time: 4½ hours
Makes: 1 loaf (40 cm x 30 cm)
Dissolve the yeast in the water in a jug, then whisk in the oil.
Place the flour and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, turn to medium speed, then slowly pour in the liquid and mix for 10 minutes. The dough will change from looking very wet to becoming slightly sticky.
Pull out the dough, using a lightly oiled hands for ease, and place into a large lightly oiled mixing bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let it sit for an hour in a warm spot.
After an hour, raise the tea towel and check that the dough has doubled in size. If it has, lift one side of the dough, fold it into the middle and press down. Repeat with the opposite side. Rotate the bowl 90°C and repeat from the top and bottom again, so you end up doing four folds. Flip the dough in the bowl so the folded side is sitting underneath. Re-cover and leave to sit in the same spot for another hour. Repeat this step two more times.
After it’s final rest, turn the dough into a heavy-based oiled baking tray (40 cm x 30 cm). Use your fingers to gently and evenly spread the dough so it covers the base of the dish.
Place the grapes on top of the dough, using your fingertips to press them in, making sure to leave a 1 cm border free of grapes. Cover with a tea towel and rest again for another 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220°C with a small metal bowl or ovenproof dish containing some water sitting at the bottom. This will create a little steam in the oven.
Remove the tea towel for the final time and you will see the bread has risen again slightly. Use your fingertips to press the dough down so that it is 2–3 cm high. Drizzle the bread generously with the extra virgin oil, season generously with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the rosemary and sugar.
Bake the bread for 10 minutes, remove the water dish, reduce the temperature to 190°C and continue baking for a further 20–25 minutes. It is ready once you can lift the edge of the bread and see a golden brown bottom. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature before serving.
• This is an easy bread to make and should not be feared. Build the folding and resting times into your day. It only needs spurts of brief attention, then can be mostly ignored.
Photography by Benito Martin. Food styling by O Tama Carey. Prop styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.
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