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Sourdough Focaccia with Grapes and Rosemary

Sourdough focaccia with grapes and rosemary pairs perfectly with a salty, raw ewe’s milk cheese as a light lunch or as an accompaniment to an autumn picnic.  The inky and potent flavor of Concord grapes marries beautifully with the tartness of sourdough focaccia – all perfumed by the woodsy odor of fresh rosemary and drenched in unrefined, extra virgin olive oil.

For the Sourdough Focaccia

1 cup proofed and bubbly sourdough starter

1 cup warm, filtered water

1/4 cup unrefined extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the mixing bowl

3 to 4 cups whole grain flour, preferably sprouted

2 teaspoons unrefined sea salt

For the Grape and Rosemary Topping

1 1/2 cups Thomcord Grapes

2 tablespoons loosely packed fresh rosemary needles

up to 1 tablespoon very coarse unrefined sea salt

2 tablespoons unrefined extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve

coarsely ground black pepper, as it suits you

Preparing the Dough

Stir proofed starter, warm water, olive oil, whole grain flour and sea salt together until well combined.

Pour the dough into the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a dough hook and mix the ingredients together at a low speed; alternatively, flour your counter and knead the ingredients together until a smooth, pliable ball of dough forms.

Grease a mixing bowl with a bit of olive oil; place the dough in the bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a slightly damp kitchen towel.

Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for about four hours.

Punch it down, and allow it to rise again, until doubled in bulk.

After it has doubled in bulk, roll the dough into a rectangle about 3/4-inch thick.  It is now ready for the grapes, rosemary and other toppings.

Finishing and Baking the Sourdough Focaccia

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once you’ve rolled out the sourdough, indent its surface with the pads of your fingers or prick its surface with the tines of a fork.

Toss whole grapes onto the dough’s surface, then sprinkle the dough with coarse sea salt, rosemary needles and coarsely ground black pepper.

Bake the focaccia on a baking stone in an oven preheated to 475 degrees Fahrenheit for twenty to thirty minutes, or until the bread is browned and crusty.

Allow the focaccia to cool to room temperature and serve it with additional olive oil.

YIELD: about twelve to sixteen slices

TIME: about twenty minutes (active time), eight hours (rising time), twenty to thirty minutes (baking time)

NOTES:  Use the sourdough focaccia as a base for pizza or choose other topping for the bread.  Take care not to seed or split the grapes, as they will exude too much liquid and make the focaccia soggy.  You may ask why I recommend sprouted flour for use in sourdoughs.  I recommend sprouted flours or freshly ground flours because, when soured, they offer an even more improved nutrient profile than regular whole grain flours which, I might add, will do just beautifully in this recipe.

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