Rich with olive oil, nutty Gruyere cheese, crisp thick-cut bacon and sweet onions, this focaccia is like taking a trip to the Alsace. Serve it as an appetizer, part of a brunch, or in place of bread at the dinner table.
Bacon, Caramelized Onion, and Gruyere Focaccia
1 package (2 1/4 tsp. ) active dry yeast
2 tsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) warm water (110°F/43°C)
3 cups (15 oz./470 g.) all-purpose flour
6 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./90 ml.) olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
1 cup (4 oz./125 g.) loosely packed shredded Gruyere cheese
6 slices thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
2 yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the brown sugar in the warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the flour, 4 tablespoons (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) of the oil, salt, rosemary, and cheese. Attach the dough hook and knead on medium-low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it back into the bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a large cast-iron frying pan, fry the bacon over medium-low heat until just crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Discard all but a few teaspoons of the bacon fat. Add the onions and saute over medium-low heat until they start to wild, about 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon brown sugar and a pinch of salt and continue to cook until the onions are golden brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the bacon, and let cool.
Oil a rimmed baking sheet with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Dump the dough onto the prepared pan and press it into a rough rectangle. Using your fingers, stretch the dough into a rectangle about 10 by 14 inches (25 by 35 cm.) Cover the dough loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until puffy, about 1 hour.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425°F (220°C). Dimple the surface of the dough with your fingertips. Gently brush the dough with oil, then sprinkle evenly with the bacon-onion mixture. Bake until gorgeously golden, 15-18 minutes. Cut into squares and serve while warm. Makes 1 flatbread.
Baker’s Note: To use the focaccia for sandwiches, omit the onion and bacon toppings and shape the dough into a smaller, thicker rectangle or square. After it has cooled, cut into squares, split through the middle and fill with goat cheese and grilled eggplant and peppers, or any of your other favorite sandwich fillings.