Feb 6, 2013

Whole Wheat Focaccia with Roasted Grapes and Goat Cheese

Before we sit down to chat and eat this whole wheat focaccia I think you should go out, buy some seedless grapes, come home, roast them with the tiniest amount of olive oil, and try one. I really, really hope you´ll be as amazed at their sweet flavor as I was. Almost a candy in the form of a soft grape. 
Then the conversation about this whole wheat focaccia with roasted grapes and the mandatory amount of olive oil it needs, will go smoothly and you´ll be as excited about it as I am.

I don´t remember the first time I baked or had focaccia really, but what I do remember with absolute clarity, is the first time I had a focaccia that forever stayed in my mind, as is explained in this post about a walnut, potato and blue cheese one.
Through the years I made it so many times, using so many recipes, and most of them were perfectly amazing, with a lot of olive oil that seeps into the dough and leaves a mate finish on top, and myself with an incredulous look, like where did the olive oil go? 
But the flavor wouldn´t be the same if all that fruity oil didn´t permeate the surface of the dough, it would be more of a regular bread dough with some sort of olive taste. 
So I liberally drench it in olive oil, the good kind, the strong kind, because that´s how I like it.

This is the first time making a whole wheat version, which includes about half bread flour. It´s difficult to achieve the sponginess of focaccia using only whole wheat flour, but I don´t discard making a few tries, after all I do make a 100% whole wheat bread with a crumb like you wouldn´t believe it, a recipe by Beth Hensperger, whose challah is the first bread I ever made.

On to the grapes, so sweet and juicy. The first time I roasted strawberries I felt the same way. I had made a tapioca pudding with coconut milk and decided to roast a mango and strawberries after seeing it on another site. Can I roast everything from now on? It really makes things better. It puts me in a very good mood, and isn´t that one of life´s aims, to be happy? Let´s roast then.

Focaccia adapted from The Italian Baker, by Carol Field 

Roasted grapes from No Need to Knead by Suzanne Dunaway


2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Pinch of sugar

1 ½ cups warm water
1 Tbs olive oil
2 cups superfine whole wheat flour
About 2 ½ to 3 cups bread or all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
About ½ cup olive oil, to sprinkle before the topping

Roasted grapes, recipe below
2 or 3 Tbs fresh rosemary
Sea salt
1 cup feta cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir the yeast and water with a pinch of sugar. Let stand 5 minutes or until foamy.
Add the olive oil and whole wheat flour. Beat with a wooden spoon until blended and attach to the mixer with the dough hook. Gradually add salt and bread flour, ½ cup at a time while mixing at medium low speed. Knead for about 5 minutes and check to see if it needs more flour. It should be elastic and just a bit sticky. If it´s pooling too much in the bottom of the pan or too wet add more bread flour, by tablespoons, until you have a velvety dough that doesn´t stick but is not stiff. I prefer to err on the wet side, since focaccia doesn´t have to be formed into any shape and a too stiff dough will mean a tougher bread.
Coat a clean bowl with olive oil, transfer dough, turn to coat in the oil, cover and let rise until doubled at room temperature, about 1 to 1 ¼ hours.
Oil two 9x13x2 inch baking pans. Preheat oven to 400º.
Transfer dough to a barely floured board and divide in two. Gather each half, place it inside the pans and, with oiled hands, press toward the borders until you fill the whole pan. If the dough resists, wait a few minutes and then stretch again with your fingers.
Liberally sprinkle with about ¼ cup olive oil each dough, scatter roasted grapes and rosemary on top, add sea salt to taste and let rise, loosely covered with plastic wrap, until almost double, 35 to 45 minutes.
Dimple the dough with your fingers one last time, and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden and top looks dry and crusty.
Let cool on wire rack for 5 minutes, transfer to wooden surface, add crumbled feta cheese on top, more olive oil and black pepper to taste.
Cut into squares and serve.
Makes 2 focaccia.

For Roasted Grapes: Preheat oven to 350º. Put about 4 cups seedless grapes, the sweeter the better, and sprinkle with only 1 teaspoon olive oil, rolling them around to coat. Roast for about 20 to 30 minutes, until they begin to collapse and brown.
Don´t over roast them at this point because they will continue cooking with the focaccia.


  1. Paula - love this! Grape focaccia is one of my favorites (I usually use a Smitten Kitchen recipe).
    I agree - there is nothing like the sweetness of the roasted grape against the crunch of the salt grain. I could eat something like this all day long!

  2. I love focaccia and love goat cheese... I am so intrigued, I have not tried roasting grapes... Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. I agree with you about roasting almost everything. I love the way it brings out different flavors and textures. I'm so curious about the grapes I have to give it a try. Your focaccia is beautiful. How wonderful it would be with a glass of wine.

  4. You and Kathy have me ready to make a focaccia with grapes! Beautifully done, Paula...you rocked this!!!

  5. This is wonderful, Paula! I loved that you used whole wheat flour, and adore the roasted grapes in it.

  6. I loved grilled grapes (especially when skewered with shrimp and brushed with a honey-balsamic vinegar glaze). Roasted grapes sound even better! Do you use goat cheese or feta here?

    1. It´s goat feta cheese. I love the idea of grilling grapes!

  7. I like the point about the seedless grapes - I roasted ones grapes that were with seeds and it was a lot of fun eating the cake after that :) Thank you for the whole wheat recipe - I might give it a go when my foccacia scars are healed. I am loving your bread!

  8. Yes, I love roasted grapes! I first tried them after listening to a radio show, The Splendid Table, and thought they were fantastic. I haven't put them in focaccia yet and will try this for sure. Looks wonderful.

  9. The sound of roasted grapes on the foccacia sounds delicious. Great idea!

  10. I have always wanted to try roasting grapes. This looks amazing!

  11. What an interesting idea - roasting the grapes. Do they really taste that great? I got curious :)

  12. I love the idea of using roasted grapes instead of fresh one. Must taste amazing!

  13. Paula, roasted grapes are indeed delicious and the whole wheat flour in your Focaccia certainly gives this bread a wonderful warm color and I am sure that is is quite harmonious together with the grapes, fresh rosemary and goat feta cheese.

  14. Wow. That looks so good! I always wonder "where did the oil go!" too. I must try the grape and cheese combo!

  15. I'm heading to the shops right now to buy some grapes to roast - I NEED to try this!

  16. Oh my word. That needs to be somewhere near my face. And there's no way I am going to share it!

  17. I am very excited to try my hand at this. I am wondering do you use red or green grapes for this bread?

    1. Here I used red, though I have used green as well. Look for the sweetest grape, no matter the color.

  18. This sounds absolutely divine! I need a slice right now!

  19. When my husband and I were in Italy during the grape harvest, we were served a grape focaccia and it was delicious. Adding the feta cheese must really make your dish a terrific treat.

  20. I love roasted grapes and strawberries too! I often roast grapes with olive oil, balsamic, and pepper along side onions and mushrooms for a quick side dish. I also love focaccia and yours looks incredible!

  21. Roasting grapes makes them all the sweeter! Paired with feta atop the impressive focaccia I imagine every bite is just scrumptious!

  22. This was an interesting Post. No, I am not in the habit of roasting my fruit but, like always, I will try anything. And, focaccia is always a treat for me, whether I make it myself or buy it at a bakery. I am trying to integrate whole wheat flour into more of my baking but need to spend a little more time in my kitchen before I get that every-changing formula perfected. Besides being delicious, your focaccia photographs were lovely.

  23. Beautiful focaccia, I love your roasted grape topping!

  24. The first focaccia I have a vivid memory of eating was in Napa Valley during harvest season, and the grapes were baked with it. I could have made it the whole meal! Thanks for the recipe, I will definitely try it.


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