I am not quite sure why grapes are not popular as cake ingredients. All summer berries, cherries, stone fruit and apples get to play, jumping into soft sponge, orderly marching onto tarts, drowning in runny clafoutis and sweating gently underneath crumbles. Come autumn, you’d think their place would be respectfully taken by the autumnal fruit, especially that these days the seedless varieties prevail? But no – wine seems to be the only thing grapes are seen as good for, the remaining ones used in baking all right, but when dried and shrivelled – as raisins and sultanas.
Things in cookery are usually done, or not, for a reason, like frying in olive oil or microwaving a meringue. So I thought grapes were unsuitable for baking with: they’d burst, go mushy, run too much liquid or all three. The only encounter between cake and grapes that I knew of was schiacciata, Tuscan sweet bread, and even there the grapes only timidly adorn the top while the filling is made of their dried offspring, raisins.
I tried muffins first, sticking a few grapes into the mix filled cases here and there – good result. They admittedly don’t impart much flavour but then do raisins? They didn’t burst or mush and were quite as nice as any other fruit would be in their place.
This is the next chapter – and here’s where grapes came into their own because no other fruit would go with cheese. Strawberry and mozzarella flan? Raspberry and Parmesan biscuits? Passion fruit halloumi tray bake? I thought not. While grapes, raw or baked, will go great with Roquefort, chèvre or even Camembert. Go grapes!