Finally, focaccia

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Finally.

It took two weekends of tweaking, combining and adapting recipes, but I finally settled on a Concord grape focaccia (inspired by schiacciata, but less desserty) we couldn’t stop eating. Gil did his damage to it while I was away at work, but each night before bed, I stood at the counter nibbling on tiny pieces that always added up to the one large piece I should’ve just cut for myself at the start.

Apart from the focaccia, I didn’t really do any cooking last weekend because I was working on my first (paying) portrait shoot! Last winter, Cara Packard, the super-talented owner of Cara Linn Cakes, hired me to take some promotional pictures for her business. She’s getting married next month, so her sister did a little sleuthing to find me and arrange a surprise bridal portrait session in the city. I had a great time working with someone so natural and relaxed in front of the camera, and found that taking pictures of humans is even more fun than taking pictures of food. Go figure.

a few bridal pictures and focaccia recipe after the jump

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On a tiny, nearly-deserted street in Tribeca.

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Cara does her best Jessica Molaskey impression.

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Train service was surprisingly not slow, despite repairs on 99% of the lines last weekend.

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Adjusting.

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Beautiful bride, isn’t she?

Gil took a bunch of pictures at the shoot, too, and managed to get video of a stranger serenading Cara in Washington Square Park. It’s cliché, but I love NY.

Rosemary Focaccia with Concord Grapes adapted from Epicurious and Eating Out Loud

Because it’s nearly impossible to remove the seeds from Concord grapes, you’ll either have to deal with the crunch — which I don’t mind — or spit them out as you’re eating. It’s a minor inconvenience, really.

sponge
1/2 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1 teaspoon dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour

focaccia
1 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
1 teaspoon dry yeast
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 quart Concord grapes, washed and dried
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/3 cup turbinado sugar

for sponge
Place 1/2 cup water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves and mixture is cloudy, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour and sugar. Cover with plastic. Let stand until very bubbly, about 45 minutes or less.

for focaccia
Place 1 cup water in small bowl. Stir in yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves and mixture is cloudy, about 10 minutes. Stir dissolved yeast mixture and 1/4 cup olive oil into sponge in the stand mixer bowl. Attach dough hook and stir in 1 cup flour, 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary and 2 teaspoons kosher salt at low speed. Add remaining flour in 2 batches, mixing until well blended after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high and mix for four minutes. Reduce to low, add walnuts, then resume mixing at medium high for another minute.

Oil large bowl. Add dough, turning to coat with oil. Cover with plastic. Let dough rise in warm area until doubled, about 1 hour 15 minutes. (My kitchen was cold, so the dough had to rise for about 3 hours till it doubled. The moral of this aside is, “Don’t rush it.”)

Oil an 11×17-inch baking sheet. Punch down dough and transfer to prepared sheet. Using oiled hands, press out dough to cover bottom of pan. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-3 days. (This improves the texture and allows the dough time to develop.)

Remove pan from refrigerator when you’re ready to bake. Press dimples in the dough with your fingertips and push dough to edges of pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary and Concord grapes. Cover with towel. Let rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, position rack in center of oven and preheat to 500°F. When dough has doubled, sprinkle the top with 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt and 1/3 cup of turbinado sugar. Place in oven and immediately lower temperature to 450°F. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the pan 180°, and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until golden and center of focaccia registers 200°F.

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