Meet your new favorite mashup: quiche Lorraine and gooey cheese raclette. The raclette does double duty here by adding flavor and also serving as a barrier that separates the quiche from the bowl, allowing the bread to get delightfully crispy while it bakes.
Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Using a paring knife, cut a circle on the top of the bread about 3/4 inch from the side and about 1/2 inch from the bottom. Remove the top and scoop out the insides, leaving a 1/2-inch wall around the sides and bottom. Reserve the top and bread scraps for another use. Brush the outside crust (sides and bottom) of the loaf with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Completely cover the inside bottom and sides of the bread bowl with the sliced raclette. Cover the outside crust with foil to protect it from browning, leaving the hole and the cheese exposed. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the cheese is fully melted but not browned, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the thyme and shallots to the skillet and cook until the shallots are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the bacon.
When the cheese is melted, remove the bread bowl from the oven and, using a small spoon, scoop the melted cheese from the bottom of the bowl and spread it up onto the sides of the bowl, gently pressing it into the crumb to create a watertight seal around the entire inside surface of the bowl.
Sprinkle the Gruyere over the bottom of the bowl and top with the bacon and shallots. Blend the half-and-half, salt, cayenne, nutmeg and eggs in a blender on low speed until completely smooth and creamy. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve (to remove the foam) and then pour into the bread bowl, filling it to just below the top of the bowl.
Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake until the edges of the quiche are set but the center still wobbles slightly, 55 to 75 minutes (it will continue to set after baking). Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in a warm place (stovetop is best) to prevent cracks forming on the top, at least 3 hours, before slicing.
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