Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rosemary-Scented Flatbread with Black Grapes

Black grapes are darker in color compared to their red-skinned cousins thanks to higher levels of flavonoids (antioxidants), making them perhaps the healthiest grape to snack on. They also contain more of those resveratrols you may have heard about, the compound found in grapes and red wine that may have longevity-promoting effects.  All the more reason to make this flatbread, redolent with fresh rosemary.  If you can't find black grapes though, red - or even blue-skinned ones - will work well, as long as they are firm and fresh.

  • 3 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vegan sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast (about 2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 and 1/4 cups warm water (between 100 and 110 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup white cornmeal*
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup quartered seedless black grapes, divided
  • Rosemary sprigs (optional for garnish)
1. Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife, to ensure the most accurate measurement.  Set aside.

2. Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm water in a large bowl; do make sure to check the temperature of the water with a thermometer. Yeast won't activate below 100 degrees, but may die at higher temps than 110, so accuracy is key. Stir in 1 cup of the flour, and cover loosely with plastic wrap; let stand for 30 minutes, until nice and bubbly.

3. Add an additional 2 cups flour, the cornmeal, 1 teaspoon salt, the chopped rosemary, and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, stirring to form a dough. 

4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. You'll want to add the remaining 1/4 cup flour as needed, about 1 teaspoon at a time, to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands; I found this to be a sticky dough, requiring the full 1/4 cup.

5. Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning so the top is coated as well.  Cover and let rise for 1 hour, some place warm and free from drafts (such as a closed, unheated oven).

6. Punch the dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle 2/3 cup of the grapes over the dough; knead gently just 4 or 5 times to incorporate the grapes.  They won't disperse all the way, which is fine, since they'll distribute better when you shape the dough in a moment.  Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

7. Press the dough into a 15x10-inch rectangle and place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. 

Note: It's actually easiest if you shape the dough on the baking sheet itself, so you don't have to worry about transferring over. 

8. Brush the top of the dough evenly with the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

9. Make indents in the top of the dough (your fingertips or the handle of a wooden spoon both work well). Sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup grapes, and press the grapes gently into the dough.  Sprinkle with the final 1/4 teaspoon salt.

10. Bake at 475 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden.  Rosemary sprigs make a lovely garnish.

As we head into the first, cool fall evenings, this flatbread would be a lovely part of an appetizer course. Serve with oil for dipping, baby vegetables or other antipasto tidbits, and an Italian white wine (I like Gavi and Orvieto, for a change from the more standard Pinot Grigio):

I also had fun playing around with some faux fall gourd decorations:

*White cornmeal is available from companies like Bob's Red Mill.  It adds a wonderful, rustic flavor to the bread, without altering the color, so do seek it out.

Nutrition Info:
12 servings (1 piece), Calories 164 

Tasting Notes:
This bread is amazing. I might go out on a limb and say the best bread I've ever eaten. Crisp on the outside, fluffy and warm on the inside, and a perfect dusting of crunchy salt on top. The grapes bake down so they are almost like raisins, making this reminiscent of raisin bread. But raisin bread is to a vacation photo as this bread is to the vacation itself - that is to say, so wonderfully fresh. If you dip it into garlicky Sage, Bay, and Garlic Dipping Oil - for a contrast between the roasted garlic and sweet grapes - this soars into being rated, like, a "10," which doesn't even exist on my scale.


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