Truthfully, I never intended to do a quiche post. Based mainly on the outrageous boujieness inherent in a 2″ tall custard pie, I thought it might alienate some of my lower-brow readers, back when I might of had any. So, up until now, I’ve stuck to crass humor, and meat, mainly, but now I’m crossing over. I think I can faithfully say that there must be only like three of you out there, and I know that at least one of you is closet-boujie, so that is decent enough odds to slip in a post about a towering quiche before I trudge on and fight to regain any semblance of blog-fame that I may have had and lost. I’m still keeping it real, though! Behind the scenes. I made the shell in my draws on a Saturday, and assembled the custard and monitored the baking with a crushing hang-over on Sunday. I could prove it, but I won’t.
Admittedly, this quiche has been represented in blog-form before, but with an alarmingly low success rate. It is the quiche that you may have heard about: The Thomas Keller Quiche from his cookbook Bouchon, and the Food & Wine article Over-the-Top Mushroom Quiche. They are one in the same. The problem that it seems a good deal of other bloggers have had at successfully making this quiche stems, I believe, from the lack of concrete detailed instruction that you find in the cookbook, but is largely glossed over in the article. That is, most folks try and make it from the articles recipe. The thing that pains me most about this situation is that this quiche is The Greatest Quiche of All-Time. And I mean it. Anybody want a peanut?
The true catalyst for the presentation of this post, however, is due in large part to my having finally found a 9″ bottomless ring-mold. Whereas I used to suffer through the indignities of using a spring-form pan, indeed a lesser instrument in the quiche production process, the ring-mold freed me from those bonds, allowing for a far greater degree of dough management, technique, and over-all handling. It has proved truly essential, even after only one quiche. In the following I will discuss in detail how to make the dough and the custard, a sightly modified version from the one in Bouchon, and try to explain the mistakes I have made in the past with this quiche, and how they can be avoided. It is a lot more work than pouring a bit of whipped egg into a frozen pie-shell, but come on, name one occasion when that bit of slice has incited you to stop and recount the important things in life. Like boujie quiche.
Quiche is a staple of the “French Bistro” menu, and as such follows the axiom of creating something lush and decadent from simple, unassuming ingredients. The shell is made from butter, flour, salt, and water. These four cooking staples come together to form a secure vessel, a strong wall, containing an absurd amount of eggs and cream. Getting this part right is essential to the success of the quiche. If there is a hole or a crack anywhere, you can count on a disaster. So, this is the stage in which it is important to take your time, and to not rush through. It requires a Kitchen Aid stand-mixer or similar. The measurements are as follows:
• 2 cups flour, seperated
• 1 tsp. kosher salt
• 8 oz (2 sticks) cold butter, in 1/4″ pieces
• 1/4 cup of ice water
Begin by adding one cup of the flour, and the teaspoon of salt to the mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, and on low speed, add the butter a few pieces at a time, slowly. Once it is all in there, up the speed to medium, and mix until the butter is incorporated into the flour. Then, lower the speed, and add the remaining flour, mixing just until combined. Finally, add the water, and mix until the dough shows no sign of butter pieces, and comes around the paddle. The dough should me smooth to the touch; not sticky or otherwise unsightly.
The above photo shows the difference between dough that has been adequately mixed vs. dough that could use a few more turns in the mixer. (Click on the picture for a closer view.) The picture of the dough on the left has marbleized areas where the butter hasn’t been fully integrated into the flour. There absolutely must be a complete unadulterated marriage of the two! This, in my opinion, is one of the greatest causes of quiche failure. Whilst the shell is baking, these area’s create nearly undetectable chinks in the bulwark. Avoid these at all costs! A bit of over-mixing is far less hazardous than under-mixing.
Once you are positive that your dough is sufficiently mixed, the next step is to form it into a 7 or 8″ disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least an hour, but I recommend over night. Firstly, you want the dough to be as cold as possible (without being frozen) while working with it from here on out, and the dough must rest. I’m not a scientist, so I don’t know why it needs to on a molecular level, but the word is that resting it prevents the dough from shrinking when you bake it. Secondly, it’s just less stressful to stretch recipes like this one out over a couple of days. That way your not waiting around for an hour to pick it up again; you can just get on with your day. This stage should only take about 20 minutes.
Once the round of dough has been adequately refrigerated, it is time to roll it out and fit it in to the ring mold. As I mentioned above, I found a bottomless mold (which is actually 3″ deep as opposed to the recommended 2″), and I used that for the quiche in this post. But in the past I did rely on a 9″ spring-form pan. However, instead of using only the ring part, as the F&W article suggests, I would keep the whole unit intact. I made one quiche without the bottom, and it was a real pain in the butt, because of the way the spring-form slides back and forth. You know what I mean if you have one. So I would leave it together. The quiche is pretty solid once it is finished, and you can carefully lift it out if you take like a foot and a half of parchment paper, folded into a 2-3″ strip, and lay it into the pan beneath the dough. You can also do this with any other kind of cake pan, but spring-form’s tend to have the desired depth. That just makes it easier, you can still easily get it out without that addition. Also, in the unfortunate circumstance of a leak, having a closed bottom will actually save you from losing all of the custard, producing, at worst a section of over-cooked egg crust in the leaky area. One other item that makes this stage of the shell a bit more arduous is the call to rub the ring down with canola oil. Skip that. It serves virtually no purpose other than to make things more slippery, and thus more difficult. The dough is half butter. It’s not sticking to anything.
• Preheat the Oven to 375º, with the oven rack in the middle position
OK. With the dough round on a floured work surface, and with a floured rolling pin, begin rolling the dough out, turning it at a 90º angle after a every few passes with the pin. Continue rolling until you’ve reached a diameter of about 15″, keeping the dough as circular as possible. Once you’ve got it, take your rolling pin, and roll the dough onto it, like if you were rolling up a poster or something. Then, eyeball where you think the center of the dough will end up, and unroll it over the top of your ring-mold. If you have a bottomless one, the ring mold should be placed of a piece of parchment paper. Gently, but expediently work the dough into the mold, being careful not to tear it. Work it into all of the corners, and up the side walls. There will be some over-lapping with the dough, which is fine; just work till it is as uniform as possible. There should be a decent amount of dough hanging over the edges of your mold. If you do get a crack or a tear, break off a piece and work it into the crack trying your best to fully smooth it over and work it in. Remove any dough in excess of an inch that is hanging over the edge of the ring-mold, and reserve in the fridge in case of any holes forming as it bakes.
Once you are satisfied, return the shell to the refrigerator for 20 minutes in order to re-solidify the dough. Afterwards, take a sheet of parchment paper large enough to cover the entire surface of the inside of the shell, and form it to fit in over the dough. Fill the shell with beans. Any kind will do, even rice, but you want a lot of them. You want to fill the shell all the way to the brim with beans. This will greatly reduce the chance of the shell shrinking, as the beans serve to hold it securely in place during the baking process, so the more the merrier. I know have a 3lb jar of garbanzo beans set aside specifically for making quiche shells. Who doesn’t need that in their kitchen?
Once you’ve filled your shell with this massive amount of beans, into the oven it goes, for 35 to 45 minutes. Then the beans are removed, and it is baked for any addition 15-20 minutes in order to brown up the bottom a bit. After the removal of the beans and you send the shell back into the furnace, give a careful inspection to make sure that, heaven forbid, no holes have formed, and if so patch them with the reserved dough.
While the shell is baking is a good time to pull together all of the ingredients that you plane on including in your quiche. This go round, I chose Swiss Chard, Caramelized Onions and Emmentaler, a fancy cheese. No matter what vegetables you chose to use, they should be cooked until tender, and made to be as dry as possible, without, obviously, being dried out. For chard, or any other leafy green, chop it up and sauté with olive oil, diced shallot, and salt and pepper. Allow it to cool, then place into a kitchen towel, and twist the greens into a head, thereby extracting the liquid. Once this is down, chop it up a bit more. I used about a lb, and I could have easily used twice that, but it was all I had in my CSA box at the time, and I couldn’t be buggered to make a trip to the market for another bunch of chard.
Of the sheer versatility of the mighty onion, I must say that caramelization is the tops! So rich and delicious, caramelized onions work as an addition to almost anything. Slice an onion into medium thin half-moons. Heat a skillet on medium high heat, add a bit of canola, a dash of olive oil, and a pinch of sugar. Add then onion and toss it around for am minute to get it all heated up a bit, and to break up the slices. then turn the heat down to low, and just let the heat and the onion do its thang. Stir the onions up a every now and then.
For this stage you will need a blender. The ingredients you will need for the custard are as follows:
• 2 cups of milk
• 2 cups of heavy cream
• 8 eggs (my version differs from the Keller version, which calls for 6) at Room Temp.
• 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
• 1/4 ts fresh ground White pepper
• 6 gratings of fresh nutmeg
•reduce the oven temperature to 325º
Right, so I use 2 more eggs, and I have ever since my second attempt with this quiche, because my first attempt curdled a bit in places (which I now think was due to the mushrooms I made the first time being too oily, but. . .) and it was otherwise just a bit to precarious a texture for me. After I upped the egg level, everything that I would consider wrong with my first go round was eliminated, so I’ve never gone back, and I stand by this revision. Anyway, it’s up to you how you will proceed in regards to the egg count.
To begin the custard, combine the milk and heavy cream in a saucepan on medium heat, whisking the liquid a great deal as it heats up. (You do this in order to help the custard set as fast as possible once it goes into the oven; the same reason why we want the eggs at room temperature.) Meanwhile, separate the other ingredients into individual bowls: 4 eggs, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp ground white pepper, and three gratings of nutmeg. Grate a cup of cheese, preferably through a microplane, you don’t want the shreds to thick otherwise they might not melt. Transfer tthe milk/cream mixture to a large pyrex measuring cup or similar. Finally, prep whatever else you want to go into the quiche, and have it ready to use. You want everything ready to go, so that you can go through the assembly process efficiently.
For assembly, begin by adding a layer of chard, onions and cheese (or whatever) to the bottom of the shell. Move to the blender, and add 1 bowl of the eggs/salt/pepper/nutmeg and begin to blend on low. Add two cups of the milk to blender, and then up the speed to it’s highest level, and allow it to blend for a minute or two, allowing it to really aerate. Then pour the mixture over the ingredients in the quiche shell. Prepare the other half of the custard ingredients in the same manner. Meanwhile, add the remainder of your filling to the quiche shell, while the custard blends. When you add the second stage of custard to the shell, it will come right up to the brim, so it is recommended to move the quiche to the oven rack before pouring it into the shell. It all should just fit into the shell. Once you’ve added it, gently slide the oven rack into the oven, and bake for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. Once it is finished, allow it to cool to room temperature, and then cut off the over-hanging crust from around the edges. Then refrigerate until it is thoroughly chilled. The book says a day, but I reckon a number of hours would do. If you use a bottomless ring you can simple lift it off after you have removed the extraneous crust. If you made it in the spring-form or a cake pan, I highly recommend waiting to remove it room the pan until after it has chilled as it will be much sturdier.
To serve: pre-heat your oven or toaster oven to 375º. Cut a slice off and heat for 15 minutes. Or, just eat it cold. I think quiche is great cold!
Thus ends a very long quiche post. If you’ve made it this far, I commend you, but I just had to get this off my chest. If you decide to give it a shot let me know! It will probably be easier to follow the cookbook or the Food & Wine version of the recipe, but hopefully, my descriptions and recommendations will be helpful. This is just such a fantastic food, and it gets easier, and easier each time you try it.
Quiche Redux for Anger Burger: Chanterelles and Farmhouse Cheddar, made with 6 eggs:
Spinach, Scallions, and Goat Cheese: 6 eggs