In the realm of quiche discussions, there are those who begin with a clever quip about what Real Men eat, and then there’s me, who is more bothered by the perpetual resurfacing of that maxim than the ghoulish reality it asserts. Of course, “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche” was coined as satire, but I think it long ago shifted across the aisle. Be gone, cliché!
Let’s devise new quiche aphorisms: Drier than a half inch quiche? The only real, savory breakfast pastry? Today’s lunch is tomorrow’s breakfast? I’ll work on some alliteration to sell these. Either way, I like quiche, and I’m (as with everything else) opinionated about them. I have had many quiches that abuse my mouth like a hard boiled egg. The way I figure, we’re using eggs and rich milk, let’s make a custard and call it a day. Also, what’s up with counter-service bakeries charging $12 for a slice of quiche? Where’s the expense? I just made a quiche, and I know the ingredients expense did not hit $10. Maybe almost $8, since I bought organic?
It’s a lot easier to not overcook the custard if it’s not too shallow, so I seek out a deep-ish pan. I like a two inch depth. I have a few, but today I used a 10” fluted, false bottom pan. The false bottom is pretty clutch if you don’t want to present the quiche in the dish. I also like the aesthetic of the flat edge achieved from my 14” ring mold, but unfortunately I currently don’t have a sheet pan it will fit on! Criminy.
The crust must be structurally stable because it will be blind-baked (i.e., without a filling). We don’t want it to lose its shape in the oven. And it needs to be fat-rich to repel the liquid we’ll pour into it for long enough for the custard to set. Crust is thin and cooks quickly, so we bake it at a high temperature to set it--400 degrees Fahrenheit. A lower temperature will melt the butter and cause the dough to shrug, lose its shape. I don’t measure my water, I just add enough very cold ice water (no ice chunks!) until I get the dough to hold together.
We then reduce the oven to low--325 degrees--to gently cook the custard. Now, people love talking about ice cream as if the higher the butterfat content the better it will be. I believe there’s a point in which too much fat will create a little residue in your mouth, so I like to find a balance with any custard. For this quiche, I use a little more milk (2%) than heavy cream. I would glibly describe the attained texture as a savory flan.
Clearly, sky’s the limit for filling ingredients. For most of my life I would have thought you a monster if you suggested a quiche (or an omelet) without cheese. Now I am somewhat more open-minded. I have one kid who now likes mushrooms but another who hasn’t come around yet, so I usually do not incorporate mushrooms within, inextricable from, any dish. But today is Mushroom Child’s birthday so I just went for it, but only on one side, which worked fine enough, with minimal boundary crossing.
One thing to keep in mind, especially regarding the deep quiche advocated in this column, is that you need sufficient cooling time. I like to make my quiche the day before eating, if I can have that degree of forethought.
Yield: 8 portions
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes for crust, 1 hour for quiche
Inactive time: 1.5 hours for chilling dough, at least 3 hours for cooling/chilling quiche
For the crust:
10 oz all purpose flour (by weight, or 2 cups)
3/4 teaspoon salt
5 oz cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 oz ice water, more or less
1. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the flour and salt.
2. Mix in the chunks of butter, then use a pastry blender to cut the butter chunks down to pea size. Work quickly to prevent the butter softening and smushing around.
3. With a rubber spatula, mix in the water bit by bit until the dough clumps to itself.
4. Form it into a disk, wrap in parchment and refrigerate for an hour.
5. Roll to about 1/8 to 3/16 inch (check out a ruler!) and line a 2x10” round pan. Make sure the dough reaches into the corners, but try to avoid stretching the dough. Allow the dough to reach beyond the pan by as much as 1/2-inch, you can trim it later. Patch any holes or cracks well, we don’t want any leaks. Save your dough scraps, you’ll want them for patching after the bake. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork.
6. Chill the pan for 30 minutes.
7. Set your crust pan on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven to cool.
For the quiche:
2 Tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, sliced thin
12 oz mushrooms, sliced thin
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper
14 oz milk (2% or other)
12 oz heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
18 oz eggs, about 9-12 depending on their size
6 oz cheddar or cheese of choice, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- Over medium heat, melt butter in a sauté pan.
- Add onions until they begin to soften and get shiny.
- Stir in mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper and cook until they have a sheen. Remove from heat. Drain liquid as it appears.
- Heat milk and cream in a pot with salt, white pepper and nutmeg.
- Whisk eggs in a bowl. Slowly whisk in hot milk mixture.
- Fill the crust, alternating between custard, mushrooms and cheese. Don’t fill to top just yet. Put pan on oven rack, then finish filling. Fill all the way to the top of the pan. (We finish the filling in the oven to prevent spilling.)
- Bake at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Don’t try to move it before 30 minutes or it will slosh over the side or just disturb the surface that you’re working to set. Turn 180 degrees. To determine doneness, the center should be firm. An instant-read thermometer in the center should read 175 degrees.
- Pull out and cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate, preferably overnight but at least 2 hours.
- Using a serrated knife, trim the excess crust, using the top of the pan as a guide and trying to spill the crumbs to the outside, off the quiche. Carefully, remove the quiche from the pan and serve.
To learn more techniques for making crusts and custards, don't miss our Hands-On Pie and Tart Boot Camp which has a new fall menu on Saturday, October 14 at 10am at Lincoln Square. This seasonal menu is full of our favorites that will become yours too:
- Individual Maple Cream Pie
- Roasted Root Vegetable and Ricotta Galette
- Spiced Apple Hand Pies with Bourbon-Cider Glaze
- Fig Jam and Frangipane Tart with Balsamic-Poached Figs