Saturday, 2 February 2013

Cabbage, bacon and onion focaccia

Don't ask me how it happened, but Dan likes cabbage. He likes it so much that he chose it as the subject of our next invention. Actually, that's a big lie, because I know precisely how the cabbage-liking thing happened. We punched it up with onions, bacon and chicken stock until Dan (and big brother Eddie) had grown such a love of the dish that even naked cabbage is now met with enthusiasm.
Dan's Thumbometer - Double yum

But we decided against nakedness for this invention, and have gone back to the best-loved ingredients. Use the focaccia bread recipe, but leave out the sea salt and herbs, and replace them with the following extras.

Special topping
3 large leaves savoy cabbage, shredded
one large onion, finely sliced
2 rashers streaky bacon, finely chopped
200ml chicken stock
olive oil, for frying

For the bread, follow the focaccia bread recipe all the way to making dimples in the risen and proved dough. (Note: Although this dough is meant to be quite sloppy to begin with, the one I made this time was initially too wet, due to over-enthusiastic adding of water. I brought it back to what felt about right during the initial kneading by carefully adding flour, half a teaspoon at a time. But I don't think I added quite enough, as the dough was still a bit sticky by dimpling stage (see film). Even so, the bread worked well enough.)

As the stretched dough proves in the final hour, prepare the topping, making sure to leave enough time for the cooked ingredients to cool before being sprinkled on the dimpled dough. There are three steps to the topping.
(1) Put the stock in a small pan and heat to boiling. Add the cabbage and simmer for five minutes. Drain the cabbage and leave in the sieve to drain off any remaining liquid.
(2) Heat a little olive oil in a pan and fry the onion on a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, covering the pan with a lid or some greaseproof paper. When they are done, the onions should be caramelised and sweet, with as little browning as possible. Put aside to cool.
The raw...
(3) Using the same pan, add a very little more oil and fry the bacon until just crisp. Drain off as much oil as you can, and add the bacon to the onion to cool.

When you have made dimples in the focaccia dough, scatter the ingredients evenly over the surface. Depending on the shape of your bread, you may not have room for it all.

...and the cooked
Well, I thought this was a real candidate for our first disaster, but it turned out OK. The bread rose and browned well under the topping. It was a little too oily for me, but had a good flavour and Dan is very happy with it indeed. (I'm beginning to suspect that he might be a little biased, but then what 9-year-old boy would care about a bit of oil? And like I said, it did taste good.)

If you've ever had 'seaweed' at the local Chinese, the flavour of the baked cabbage will be familiar - for that is all the 'seaweed' is. I didn't add all the topping ingredients as I thought they might stop the bread from cooking properly, but I think it would have been OK and the flavour would have been even better with more. Next time, I think I might use sea salt instead of bacon - because it was responsible for at least some of the oil - although a certain amount of oiliness will always come with focaccia anyway.


  1. God that looks yummy... I wish my two (12 and 10) would love "the cabbage" as much as yours do! They do eat (Northern German) kale though (but only in soupy-stew form)- but that (kale) would work well here as well - I SHALL give it a try!

  2. Kale and cabbage. It's all the same, really, isn't it? I'm sure it will work. Good luck. Let me know how it turns out.