There was a lovely feature in The Telegraph last Saturday which featured ten or so British politicians reminiscing about their Easters past: the food; the traditions; the people.
After I’d read most of them I noticed that while the pieces were all beautifully and quirkily written, the majority shared a lot of common flavours & threads – the private pleasure of finding a slightly musty year-old chocolate on the annual egg hunt, say, or the delight of a fresh, sticky hot cross bun on a bright spring morning. But when I think about the Easter celebrations my friends and family have here there doesn’t seem to be anything like the same level of consistency in foods, activities or celebrations – I can’t even remember what my own family usually eat on Easter Sunday.
And although I wish Easter was a bit more of a set occasion here, as it seems to be elsewhere, I’m glad too of the spareness of it in Ireland – having no set formula for Easter frees us up, and allows us to celebrate in whatever way we fancy, with whatever food we want, and with whomever we like. Which, when all is said and done, is probably even more fun than an egg hunt.
This gorgeous grape-studded focaccia is perfect for sharing, and your guests will be equal parts surprised & delighted by the combination of the light, savoury bread with the rich, sweet, warm, juicy roasted Sable grapes. In fact, it’s so good that it may well just become a bit of an Easter tradition in your house…
Makes 1 very large focaccia or two medium-sized rounds
3/4 cup warm water
2 tbsp milk, slightly warmer than the water
2 tsp caster sugar
1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups plain flour, plus more for dusting
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing and oiling
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 large handful black Sable grapes
1tsp coarse sea salt
Handful of rosemary, thyme or wild garlic
In a large bowl, stir together the water, milk, sugar and yeast. Let the mixture sit until foamy, around 3 minutes. Add the flour, olive oil and fine sea salt to the yeast mixture and bring together with your hands. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 8 minutes.
Brush a large bowl with olive oil. Scrape the dough into the bowl and cover the top with a little more olive oil. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Knock the air out of the dough and then turn it out onto a floured surface, dividing it into 2 balls. Brush two large baking sheets with olive oil and place the balls of dough on them. Dip your fingers in olive oil and press each ball of dough into a medium-sized circle. Cover again with the towel and leave to rise for another 45 minutes in a warm place.
Preheat the oven to 180ºc. Sprinkle the coarse sea salt and herbs evenly over the dough and dot with the grapes. Bake for around 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and puffed up. Serve warm from the oven.
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