Bread for Bad Exercisers [Rosemary Grape Focaccia]

I sit here, writing to you from a ball of aching muscles on the couch.
What heroic feat did I accomplish to get like this? Was it that rock climbing on Friday? Or the boot camp class on Sunday? Unfortunately, it was the 30 minute run that just about killed me. I am not a runner (and please note, I am also not a rock climber or a boot camp goer). I am a walker. But I’ve really wanted to try and start going now that it’s cooler and more comfortable running weather. So off Allan and I went (he can actually run), for a run with the dog around Centretown yesterday. Thankfully, I made it. And felt great afterwards. Today, however, was not so kind to me. My knees, thighs, buns, and abs are aching and I can’t help but feel a little ashamed and pathetic.

And what sort of pathetic, whiney fat kid doesn’t want some fresh bread? Afterall, a good run deserves a loaf of carby bread, doesn’t it? No? That’s not the way it works? This exercising thing doesn’t sound very fun at all.  

While I further contemplate how to properly execute a chesterfield dismount for aching glutes, why don’t you make yourself some focaccia bread to praise yourself for all the awesome things you did today. Just don’t eat the whole thing, ok?

Oh, try not to let the grapes turn you off. They really make the bread flavours pop and when cooked, get extra grapey delicious!

Focaccia w Black Grapes, Rosemary and Sea Salt
recipe from Smitten Kitchen

3/4 cup warm water – warm to the touch, not hot and not lukewarm (105° to 110°F)
2 tablespoons milk, slightly warmed
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups halved Concord, red or black grapes, seeded
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary needles
2 tablespoons raw or another coarse sugar
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the water, milk, sugar, and yeast. Let the mixture sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the flour, salt and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the yeast mixture and mix well on low. Attach the dough hook, raise the speed to medium-low and knead the dough for 8 minutes longer.

(If you don’t have an electric mixer, you can do this by hand but you’ll have to roll the dough around in some flour and knead it a little)

Brush a large bowl with a generous amount of olive oil. Scrape dough into the bowl and brush the top with additional oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a cool place until it doubles in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Press the dough down with a floured hand. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide it into two balls. Brush a large baking sheet (or two small ones) with olive oil, place the balls of dough on it and brush the top with more oil. Set it aside for 20 minutes, lightly covered with a kitchen towel. After 20 minutes, dip your fingers in olive oil and press and stretch each ball of dough into a 8 to 9-inch circle-ish shape. It will be dimpled from your fingers. Cover again with the towel and let it rise for another 1 1/4 hours in a cool place.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Brush tops of dough with remaining olive oil and top the sprinkle grapes, rosemary, coarse sugar and coarse sea salt evenly over the dough. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and puffed around edges. Let cool before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.