Hearty, versatile focaccia bread is perfect for casual gatherings with friends — just slice into squares, pile in a towel-lined basket, and serve. A soft cheese is always a welcome accompaniment, but this autumn-inspired version is plenty flavorful on its own, filled with grapes, walnuts and rosemary.
Focaccia with Grapes & Walnuts
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
3 fresh rosemary sprigs
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 Tbs. active dry yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 Tbs. aniseeds, coarsely ground
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
2 Tbs. sugar
1 1/2 cups seedless red grapes
In a fry pan over medium heat, warm the 1/4 cup olive oil and the rosemary sprigs until they sizzle. Remove from the heat. Add the walnuts and discard the rosemary. Set aside.
In a bowl, stir together 1/4 cup of the flour, the yeast and 1/4 cup of the water. Let stand until bubbles form, about 20 minutes. Add the aniseeds, 1/2 tsp. of the salt, the sugar, the remaining 1/2 cup water, and the walnuts and rosemary oil. Stir in the remaining 1 3/4 cups flour. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes, adding just enough flour to prevent sticking. Place in a well-oiled bowl and turn the dough to oil the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and place a pizza stone on the rack. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Roll out into a large oval 1/2 inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet. Make shallow evenly spaced indentations in the surface. Brush with olive oil. Press the grapes into the indentations and sprinkle with the remaining salt. Bake on the stone until golden and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 6.