I made this on Saturday morning as part of a brunch with friends.
Perhaps a little autumnal with the black, juicy grapes + walnuts, but it was delicious and looked gorgeous – which is always a bonus.
I don’t bake with yeast often, but when I do it reminds me how easy it and how much I enjoy it; it must be something to do with the kneading of the dough and seeing brought alive by the yeast which is so satisfying.
You can use live or easy-blend yeast; some people claim they can taste the difference between bread that’s been risen with fresh yeast and bread that’s been made with easy-blend yeast.
If I am honest, I don’t think I can, but I am interest to hear what you think.
Remember that you need to double the quantity of yeast if you are using fresh yeast, which is fairly easy to come by these days from bakeries. Some health-food stores sell it too.
The quality of flour you use does make a difference; I tend to use organic flour from reputable English mills. But don’t let the lack of time for right-on sourcing stop you from having a go at baking with yeast.
The recipe is based on a Nigel Slater recipe which in turn was inspired by a recipe from Claudia Roden’s classic on Italian cooking, The Food of Italy (1990).
I’ve reduced the amount of sugar and added a few sprigs of rosemary which I think add an interesting, slightly savoury, fragrant, note. This provides a good balance with the sweet grapes.
If you feel like experimenting, you could omit the sugar, substitute with ground black pepper + a grating of nutmeg and replace the grapes with 150g of cheese (Gorgonzola perhaps) or try lightly fried onions + nigella seeds.
I urge you to have a go at making this bread – you won’t be disappointed!
This is what you need:
30g fresh yeast or 2 sachets dried yeast (2 x 7g)
170ml tepid water
340g plain flour
60g caster sugar
pinch of salt
450g black, seedless grapes (washed + kept whole)
90g walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, needles only, finely chopped
1 tbsp caster sugar for sprinkling
2 tbsp olive oil
This is what you do:
- if using, dissolve the fresh yeast in the tepid water
- put the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl
- add the yeast mixture (or dried yeast grains + water) into the flour and mix well, first with a wooden spoon and then using your hands
- take the dough from the bowl and knead it for at least 5 minutes on a floured work surface
- place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a clean towel and leave to rise to double its size
- this could take between 30-60 mins depending on how warm + humid your kitchen is
- pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4
- cut the dough in half and roll each piece out to an oval shape about 1cm in thickness
- put one disc on a piece of baking paper large enough to fit the disc comfortably
- cover it with half the grapes, nuts, rosemary and sugar
- cover with second disc and press the edges down to seal in the filling
- brush with olive oil and scatter with the remaining grapes, nuts, rosemary and sugar
- transfer to a baking tray
- bake for 45-50 mins until the edges are golden brown and the top streaked with grape juice from the burst grapes
- serve lukewarm or cold, cut into wedges
Works well as part of a brunch but equally at home with a cup of coffee for a simple weekend breakfast.
I have not yet tried this, but I am sure you could make the dough the day before, let it rise very slowly in the fridge overnight, get up the next morning, turn the oven on and let the dough come back to room temperature before finishing the loaf as above.
Happy baking – your loved ones will love you (even more) for it! And it makes the house smell gorgeous.