Of all the fruits out there, grapes must be one of the most under-utilized when it comes to baking. I’ve probably seen only a handful of grape pies and tarts, and things like grape breads and grape cookies are far less common. Perhaps the reason for this is that raisins are an incredibly popular ingredient for baking, and unlike fresh fruits, will conveniently keep for a long time in the pantry. But grapes should not be overlooked. They hold up well to baking, work in a variety of sweet and savory applications, and are at least as easy to work with as berries and other fruits are.
This yeast bread uses both grapes and raisins in a slightly-sweet loaf that can be eaten with jam at breakfast or served with a savory meal/cheese plate. The original recipe is a Paul Hollywood (one of my very favorite bakers) creation. The grapes are a nice addition to the bread because in the heat of the oven, they shrink very slightly. This concentrates their sweetness and makes it seem like the bread has a mix of regular raisins and super-moist raisins in the dough. I used organic Thompson Seedless raisins (a very popular variety of golden raisin here in CA) and organic red seedless grapes. Green grapes sometimes have a slightly sharp taste to them that won’t work as well in this bread as the sweetness of red grapes will.
The loaf is shaped into a round before baking, which gives it a lovely, (slightly) rustic appearance. The texture of the bread is light and tender, softer than many sandwich breads. It has a tight, even crumb to it, that makes it easy to slice. Speaking of slicing, I would recommend a large serrated knife for slicing breads in general, but I found it to be especially helpful with this loaf because a large knife was able to cut cleanly through the grapes and raisins without pulling them out of the dough.
Grape and Raisin Bread
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cups water, warm (100-110F)
3-4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 cup golden raisins
generous 1/2 cup red seedless grapes, washed and dried
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast, sugar and water. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Working with a large wooden spoon (or the dough hook of an electric mixer), stir in 3 cups of bread flour, the salt and the butter. Mix until very smooth. Add remaining flour gradually until dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 3-4 minutes, until smooth and elastic (or continue to knead with the dough hook for 3-4 minutes).
Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.
Turn risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently fold in grapes and raisins. Shape into a circular loaf and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Slash the top of the dough 3-4 times with a sharp knife (I made a square) and bake for 25 minutes.
Transfer loaf to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf.