Sourdough Focaccia with pickled grapes, speck and thyme is a deliciously crusty and chewy flatbread with a light crumb and big bursts of flavor from the bold toppings.
I have two words for you — Picked Grapes! Wow, they are my new obsession. I’m so happy that Sneha, our hostess for today’s #BreadBakers event, chose this creative topic. She asked us to use grapes, dried or fresh, baked in the bread of our choice.
Looking for inspiration, I Googled around for savory recipes using grapes. I came across a number of recipes, mostly for salads, using Pickled Grapes. I was intrigued.
I made a quick batch, altering the mix of spices to my taste, and put them in the fridge for the night. I tasted them the next day and it was love at first bite. I can’t wait to try pickled grapes in all sorts of other dishes.
Click through the step by step photos to see how to make Pickled Grapes:
You’ll notice that the grapes in the photos are speckled. Although I got the grapes in our farm share, this is not a special variety of grape. According to the farmer, the speckles were due to the hot and rainy growing season. But the speckles didn’t affect the flavor at all. In fact, I kind of like they way they look like little specked eggs.
I thought a salty/fatty topping would accent the tangy/sweet flavor of the grapes, so I added some chopped speck. A little fresh thyme for a fresh herbal note was the perfect final touch.
Because of the sweet, sour and salty combination, I think Focaccia with Pickled Grapes and Speck is a perfect brunch dish. A slab of this bread would be wonderful next to scrambled eggs or an omelet.
Helpful hints for making Sourdough Focaccia with Pickled Grapes:
- Make the pickled grapes 1-2 days before you’re going to bake the bread. They can be made up to a week in advance.
- It is possible to mix this dough by hand, but it’s much easier on a stand mixer. If mixing by hand you can use a bench scraper or plastic bowl scraper to help lift and move the dough.
- I used a sourdough bread as the base of this focaccia. If you don’t have a sourdough starter you can follow the bread recipe in this post instead. For future recipes I urge you to either buy or make a starter of your own. The flavor and texture difference is worth the effort, believe me.
- I mixed the dough in the afternoon/evening of day one (say a Friday or Saturday). I let it sit at room temperature (with the hourly folding and flipping) until bed time.
- I put the dough in the fridge for the night and took it out early in the morning because I wanted to enjoy this bread for breakfast. If you want to bake the bread for later in the day just take the dough out of the refrigerator about 2 hours before the time you want to serve the bread.
By breakfast time I had warm, fresh Sourdough Focaccia with Pickled Grapes & Speck. Heavenly!!!
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Sourdough Focaccia with Pickled Grapes and Speck
- ½ cinnamon stick
- 1" vanilla bean
- 5 cracked cardamom pods
- ⅛ teaspoon black peppercorns
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 8 oz red or green seedless grapes (washed and stemmed)
- 4 oz apple cider vinegar (½ cup)
- 1 oz water (2 tablespoons)
- 4 oz granulated sugar (½ cup)
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1 recipe Sourdough Focaccia dough
- 2 oz olive oil (¼ cup)
- 2 oz speck (chopped (see note))
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Make the Pickled Grapes (1-2 days ahead)
- Place the cinnamon, vanilla bean, cardamom pods, peppercorns and pepper flakes in the bottom of a clean 1 pint canning jar. Place the grapes into the jar on top of the spices.
- In a small saucepan combine the vinegar, water sugar and salt. Bring the mixture to a full boil and stir until the sugar is melted.
- Pour the hot brine over the grapes. Cover the jar with the lid and let cool to room temperature.
- Refrigerate for at least a day before using. The grapes will keep several weeks in the refrigerator.
Make the dough (day 1)
- Make the dough according to the recipe and refrigerate overnight. Don’t make the toppings listed in the original recipe.
Bake the Focaccia (Day 2)
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Lightly oil a 1/2 sheet pan with half of the olive oil. Place the dough onto the oiled pan (trying not to deflate too much) and flip it over to coat the dough with a film of oil. Use your fingers to spread the dough to a 1/2″ thick square or rectangle. Cover the dough with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for about 1 – 1 1/2 hours until well risen and puffy.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Use your fingers to dimple the top of the dough all over. Brush the dough with the remaining olive oil, sprinkle with speck and thyme. Distribute the picked grapes over the surface and press them down into the dough.
- Bake about 15-20 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm or room temperature.
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