An open-faced grilled cheese sandwich from Switzerland, known as “Toast Williams,” combines salty bacon with the gentle sweetness of poached pears.
Toast Williams is one of many types of melted cheese sandwiches, known as käseschnitten (German) or croûte au fromage (French), in Switzerland. It’s similar to Toast Hawaii, which has pineapple and cherries, because it pairs fruit with cheese.
The name “Williams” comes from the type of pear you might use to make it, the Williams pear. I’ve seen this toast prepared with bacon or ham. When made with Appenzeller cheese, it’s likely called “Appenzeller Toast.”
The first time I tried Toast Williams was during a family vacation in rural Appenzell. We went to the Appenzeller Schaukäserei (cheese factory) in the village of Stein. During our visit, we had lunch at the Schaukäserei’s onsite restaurant. I ordered the “Appenzeller Toast” with ham, pear and two types of cheese: Raclette and Appenzeller kräftig-würzig (strong and spicy).
Toast Williams is just another great example of easy-to-make comfort food from Switzerland.
– Slices of dry bread (I like using Zürcherbrot, a recipe from my book)
– slices of cheese (e.g.. Gruyère, Raclette or Appenzeller)
– poached or canned pears, halved or sliced
– sliced bacon
Place the dry slices of bread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread a thin layer of butter on the top side of the bread.
Layer slices of cheese on the buttered bread. Then, place slices or halves of poached (or canned) pears on top of the cheese. Finally, layer slices of bacon on top of the sliced pears.
Bake for 10-15 minutes at 220°C / 425°F until the cheese has melted and the bacon is cooked.