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Finger Lakes Grape Bread

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This grape quick bread, originally published in The Cookbook For Goodness Taste in 1991, is a delicious way to enjoy the fall grape harvest.

For many, fall flavors mean pumpkin spice and apple cinnamon. But in Upstate New York’s Finger Lakes region, from mid-September through mid-October, many local’s thoughts turn towards grapes as the seasonal grape harvest takes place.

Grape pies traditionally take center stage, but when I ran across an old recipe for grape bread, I knew I had to try it. This quick bread, originally published in The Cookbook For Goodness Taste in 1991, is a delicious way to enjoy the fall grape harvest.

The Great Concord Grape

Grapes have been grown in the Finger Lakes region of New York State for a long time, and we love baking, juicing, and fermenting them!

The Finger Lakes enjoys a microclimate created by the 11 lakes giving the grapes a slightly longer growing season and early season frost protection. The steady water temperature of the lakes helps prevent extreme air temperature swings in the surrounding hillside vineyards. The Finger Lakes area includes 11,000 acres of vineyards, so grapes are a pretty big deal here.

It’s no surprise when you find a recipe that calls for grapes from the Finger Lakes region that the grape variety is usually a Concord grape.

Concord grapes are native to Northern America, highly aromatic, tangy, and sweet, and plentiful in Upstate New York. Their unique flavor makes them perfect for baked goods, jams, jellies and juices. They are a slip-skin grape variety, allowing easy separation from the fruit, which makes them very easy to work with for recipes.

Naples, New York

The heart of the grape country in the Finger Lakes lies in the small village of Naples. The abundance of Concord grapes in the Naples Valley is celebrated every fall during the annual grape harvest.

During the Grape Festival the community comes together with parades, carnivals, street dances, arts, crafts, and great foods. But the highlight of the Naples Grape Festival is without a doubt the Grape Pie contest. Grape pies are such a big deal in the area, it is known as The Grape Pie Capital of the World. Each year nearly 70,000 grape pies are sold during the popular festival.

I highly recommend taking a trip to Naples during the fall. The hillside vistas during peak foliage are stunning. If you’re looking to pick your concord grapes in the Finger Lakes region this fall, plan a trip to Jerome’s U-Pick, and enjoy the beautiful views while picking grapes fresh from the vine. If picking your own isn’t your thing, try visiting Joseph’s Wayside Market on Main Street in Naples, one of the largest open-air farm markets in the Finger Lakes region.

A sliced loaf of grape bread on a wooden cutting board, a small stack of white plates with a cluster of concord grapes sitting on top of the stack is slightly out of focus in the background.
Finger Lakes Grape Bread From the Cookbook For Goodness Taste

What is grape bread, and where did it originate?

While we are all familiar with grape pie, but grape bread was a new concept for me.

While working at the Fairport Farmers market, a shopper mentioned that she was making Finger Lakes Grape Bread. Intrigued, I asked her where she found the recipe, and she told me it was available online. Once home from market, I set out to find the recipe, and do a little research on it.

Not only did I find the recipe online, but also in my cookbook collection.

You can find the recipe in the Junior League of Rochester cookbook For Goodness Taste, which was first published in 1991. The Rochester Junior League is a nonprofit women’s volunteer organization to improve the local community. Perhaps the best-known fundraising effort by the Rochester chapter is their iconic green cookbook, Applehood & Motherpie.

Applehood & Motherpie was first published in 1984 and is probably one of the best-known local cookbooks ever published. It has stood the test of time and is full of tried and true recipes.

The group continued the tradition of curating recipes that reflected local flavor and cultural diversity of the Rochester area. While the subsequent cookbooks are full of reliable and uncomplicated recipes that are sure to please, none have ever reached the cult status of Applehood & Motherpie. Even though For Goodness Taste isn’t as widely recognized as Applehood & Motherpie, it is a great addition to any cookbook collection, chock full of recipes you’ll make again and again.

The recipe for Grape Bread below is reprinted from Junior League of Rochester’s later cookbook, For Goodness Taste. It also appears on the recipe-sharing website, where the user writes she found the recipe in a tiny stapled cookbook bought at Joseph’s Wayside Market in Naples, NY. Both recipes are identical, with no mention of the source.

The Ingredients Needed to Make Grape Bread

Like most vintage recipes, grape bread doesn’t require odd ingredients, just pantry staples that you likely have on hand. Grape bread is quick bread, which means it’s leavened with baking soda (not yeast). Quick breads are some of the easiest loaves to make at home.

  • Concord Grape Skins– Concord grapes are highly aromatic, tangy, sweet, and perfect for baked goods. They are a slip-skin grape variety, allowing easy skin separation from the fruit.
  • Sugar– To Add a little sweetness, although this bread isn’t as sweet as other quick bread, such as banana bread.
  • All-Purpose Flour– The foundation of the bread. I used All-purpose but a mix of whole wheat and white flour would also be good.
  • Oil– The oil supplies the loaves with fat for a moist loaf of bread.
  • Eggs– The eggs will help bind the batter and provide a small amount of leavening.
  • Cinnamon– No Fall recipe would be complete without cinnamon!
  • Baking Soda– The leavening agent for the bread. The baking soda does the heavy lifting, and gives the bread a nice rise in the oven .
  • Vanilla- Adds a rich bakery flavor.
  • Salt– For a little flavor enhancement.

How to Make Grape Bread

Grape bread is very easy to make, in fact, you don’t even need to use your mixer!

  1. You’ll start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees F. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl- flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add the oil, vanilla and eggs and mix until well combined. Gently fold in the grape skins.
  2. Pour the batter into greased loaf pans and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the loaf is golden brown. Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. Grape bread is best served fresh and warm but will keep wrapped tightly at room temperature for a few days.
Finger Lakes Concord Grape Bread

Finger Lakes Concord Grape Bread

Yield: 2 loafs

This grape quick bread is a delicious way to enjoy the fall grape harvest.

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 cups grape skins

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 325° F (163°C), and butter 2 -9 x 5-inch loaf pans.
    2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, except grape skins.
    3. When well-blended, gently fold in grape skins.
    4. Pour batter into 2 well-oiled 9x5-inch loaf pans.
    5. Bake 1 hour or until tester comes out clean.
    6. Let stand 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Notes

If Concord grapes are not available, substitute a sweet blue grape used for juice making.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 225Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 128mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 1gSugar: 20gProtein: 3g

Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimates. Please see my Nutrition Disclaimer for more information.

As the leaves start to turn, it’s officially time for all the autumn baking. This grape quick bread is a delicious way to enjoy the fall grape harvest. I’m so excited to make this recipe again (and maybe add some nuts or lemon zest). Let me know in the comments if you try it out. And be sure to check out my other Upstate New York recipes while you’re here on the blog.

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