Peter Reinhart is the man behind the book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. He does not know me and I’ve never met him, so why did I constantly think about him while on vacation last month?
Well, I’ve been eager to try his focaccia recipe and I couldn’t remember if I’d be back in time to participate in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge. Granted, I could make the bread whenever I want, but it’s more fun to bake with friends. Fortunately, I checked the schedule as soon as I returned and was relieved to find my timing perfect.
When I first moved to Vancouver I wrote about the Granville Island public market and a delicious grape focaccia from a bakery there. I’ve been determined to recreate the sweet bread ever since eating it. It’s really *that* good.
A slice of grape focaccia from Terra Breads, as found on Granville Island public market. It’s the bread that started my craving:
Peter’s recipe is easy to follow, although it takes several hours to make (and overnight refrigeration). It’s easy though because most of that time is spent rising or resting, so not much work for the actual bread baker ;-)
I won’t be publishing Peter’s recipe but instead will give a breakdown of the steps, noting the additions I made. You can recreate this grape and walnut version with your favorite focaccia recipe.
Focaccia Making Process
I mixed the dough in my Kitchenaid mixer and allowed it to knead (using the dough hook) for 5-7 minutes. During the final 2 minutes, I added 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts and allowed the mixer to knead them into the dough.
The dough is then placed onto a floured counter and allowed to rest for 5 minutes. The dough is next stretched and folded into a rectangle, then allowed to rest for 30 minutes. The stretching and folding is repeated several times in 30 minute intervals.
The final step is to place the dough on a well greased baking sheet. Using your fingers the dough is pushed down to fill the sheet, then placed in the refrigerator for 1-3 days. The time allows the dough to develop and improves the texture. I let mine set for 24 hours.
Remove the dough from the fridge – using your fingertips once again, create dimples in the dough and push to the dough fill the baking sheet (12×18″). The dough should be about 1/2″ thick. I sprinkled with 1 1/2 cups red seedless grapes. I also sprinkled with 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 3 hours or until the dough has raised to a height of 1″. Before baking, sprinkle the top with 1/3 cup granulated sugar.
Place in a 500F (250C) preheated oven, then turn down the temperature to 450F (225C) and bake 10 minutes. Rotate pan 180 degrees, then bake an additional 5-10 minutes or until golden and center of dough tests done at 200F (100C).
Rising – add the grapes and chopped walnuts:
Fresh from the oven – look at how the dough rises up to surround the grapes:
Look at the beautiful edge of the focaccia:
Side view of the soft & chewy bread – look at that juicy grape:
The result is fricken’ delicious. The focaccia is thicker and softer than I expected. It tastes incredible on its own but I love the addition of grapes and walnuts. The grapes will explode and release a little juice which mixes with the sugar to form syrup and the walnuts are toasted to perfection. As the bread cools, the sugar forms a sweet glaze over the bread.
For an extra bit of wow, dust with powdered sugar before serving.
The focaccia was a success and satisfied my craving. The version from Terra Breads is thinner and more dense than mine, and as I remember it’s also multi-grain. I’m so pleased with my version though and find it hard to avoid eating. Fortunately, it made such a huge amount that I’ll be nibbling on it all week.
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