The Battle of the Quiches

Quiche

My friend, Summer, hates quiche.  The very word gives her mock dry heaves.  We’ve all had a traumatic experience with some kind of food; whether it be an ingredient (dill for me, pomegranate juice for Matt) or an entire meal ruined by getting sick later in the evening, it’s hard to come back to good terms with the food after the trauma.  I’m not sure why Summer hates quiche, but according to her, the description she gives is of a “rubbery filling, soggy crust, gross texture” and what comes to mind, for me, is the mini-quiches you find at baby showers the world over, or the frozen pie-sized quiches that could double as semi-wet Frisbees.  Either way, it’s not a huge shock that a lot of people have a bad connotation when they hear the word.

Thomas Keller is here to save the day, once again.

He sees the problem with the American version/view of quiche, as well:

“Why didn’t the French quiche ever really translate to America? American culinary culture embraced it, then trashed it without ever knowing what it was…I think it was a mechanical problem, not having the right tool–a ring mold about two inches high.  When the modern quiche took off here in the 1970s, that wasn’t widely available.  Instead, a pie pan was commonly substituted for the two-inch ring mold.  And then came the premade pie shell.  Who would want to eat quiche made in that? A quiche has to have a specific thickness or you cannot cook it properly: It must be two inches high, in a crust thick enough to remain crisp, and not become soggy, during cooking.  Custard in a pie shell invariably overcooks (if you cooked it slowly enough, the crust would become soggy).” — Thomas Keller, Bouchon Cookbook, page 86

We’ve made Keller’s quiche several times.  The foundation is a good crust and so we go back to the crust I will rely on for the rest of my life – the same crust used in my strawberry pie a few posts ago.  It’s perfect, it flakes, it is sturdy without being tough, and it tastes like butter because that’s the only fat used.  Why look elsewhere?  The key is to completely bake the crust first, with plenty of overhang so that it doesn’t shrink while baking.  And I’m sorry you’ll have to buy a special tool to make it, but a 2 inch ring mold is necessary.  Not expensive and if you want to really make this recipe correctly, you need one.

We decided for this post, that we’d compare a store-bought quiche with Keller’s quiche.  I didn’t buy the most disgusting one I could find, either.  I actually bought probably the best a grocery store has to offer.  An in-house made quiche Florentine (bacon/cheese) baked in a pre-made pie shell (assuming.)  It was set in a metal pie tin with holes poked all in the bottom.  I appreciated that effort, because at least someone is acknowledging that quiche shells go soggy.  Didn’t quite work, though.  Here they are, back to back:

Battle of the Quiches

Store bought on the left, Keller on the right.
You can’t tell much, texture-wise, so I’ll tell you.  And again, I’m fairly impressed with the grocery store made quiche.  It’s about as good as a pre-made, American pie version gets.  However, the crust was really wet and soggy on the bottom. Couldn’t exactly pick it up without it sagging, whereas the Keller quiche’s crust is very crispy and fully cooked on the bottom (you can tell by the color and how it even stands away from the plate a bit.)  The Keller quiche has almost a half inch more custard and the store bought quiche’s crust tasted like sand.  Honestly.  Sand held together by water.  It really wasn’t good.  Now, the store-bought quiche’s filling was fine, taste-wise.  It had bacon – how can that not be at least decent?  (I could imagine a frozen mini-version would find a way) but anyway, it was a good effort, but the crust was awful and it was wet, just like you don’t want it to be.  It also had that over cooked texture – kind of rubbery- that eggs get if cooked too long.  I swear to you, I am not making this up, after a few days and microwaving the leftover Keller quiche, it STILL had a smooth, silky, custard-like texture.  Almost creme brulee texture.  It’s so darn good.

Fun experiment and I would say that if you’re interested in doing something for the sake of the experiment and doing things properly, buy yourself a ring mold and get after it.  And remember – a Keller quiche takes two days.  So if this is for Sunday brunch, start it on Saturday afternoon.

Roquefort and Leek Quiche

I also want to add, for the sake of The Family Meal, that Olive ate on both quiches with  much enthusiasm.  Yes, even those big chunks of Roquefort.  She leaned forward and said, “mmmmm!” to both.  Eggs are awesome.  Oh, and she also said, “Quiche” perfectly.  I think because “quiche” sounds like her version of the word “cheese”.  Whatever works, Ollie.

For the crust:

2 cups AP flour, plus extra for rolling out
1 tsp kosher salt
8 ounces chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4″ pieces
1/4 cup ice water

Place 1 cup of the flour and the salt in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Turn the mixer to low and add the butter a small handful at a time.  When all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and mix until the butter is completely blended with the flour.  Reduce the speed, add the remaining flour, and mix just to combine.  Add the water and mix until incorporated.  The dough will come around the paddle and should feel smooth, not sticky, to the touch.
Remove the dough from the mixer and check to be certain that there are no visible pieces of butter remaining.  Pat the dough into a 7-8″ disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to a day.

Lightly brush the inside of a 9×2″ ring mold with canola oil (or cooking spray works) and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Place the dough on a floured work space and rub all sides with flour.  Roll out the dough into about a 14″ diameter circle.  Lift the dough into the ring, centering it carefully and pressing it gently against the sides and bottom edges of the ring.  Trim any dough that extends more than an inch outside the ring.  Carefully check for crack in your dough and patch any cracks with your trimmed dough (I DIDN’T DO THIS AND OUR QUICHE LEAKED ALL OVER THE PLACE)
Refrigerate your dough for 10 minutes to resolidify your butter (if you don’t do this, the butter will drain out of your dough as it bakes.  Done it; learn from my mistakes)
Line the bottom of your crust with parchment and fill with pie weights (our pie weights are dry beans – a whole pound of them.  We just keep them for use in pies).  Bake shell in a preheated 375F oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the edges of the dough are lightly browned.  Carefully remove the parchment and the weights.  Check the dough for cracks and patch with reserved dough trimmings (DO THIS STEP) Return the shell to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until the bottom is rich golden brown.  Remove from oven and let the shell cool completely on the baking sheet.

Basic Quiche Batter

2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
6 large eggs
1 tbs kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
A few gratings of fresh nutmeg, or 1/8 tsp of ground nutmeg

Combine the milk and cream in a large saucepan over medium heat and heat until a skin begins to form on the surface of the milk.  Remove from the heat and let cool for 15 minutes before continuing.  If you have an immersion blender, add the rest of your ingredients to the saucepan and blend for about a minute to fully aerate the batter and make it light and foamy.  Pour the batter into your quiche shell (which is still on your lined, rimmed baking sheet – this thing inevitably will leak a tish.)
At this point, if you’d like to add ingredients, go for it.  Be creative.  We did his blue cheese and leek version and it was awesome.  You simply add these ingredients (about a cup of each ingredient, chopped fine and cooked properly) to the quiche batter as you’re pouring it into the shell.  Try crumbled, cooked bacon and cheddar cheese, or caramelized onion and grated swiss.  The options are endless.
Bake for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, or until the top of the quiche is browned and the custard is set when the pan is jiggled.  Remove and let cool to room temp on a cooling rack.  Refrigerate until chilled, at least one day, up to 3 days.  Once the quiche is thoroughly chilled, scrape away the excess crust from the top edge of the quiche.  Set the quiche down and carefully lift off the ring.  Preheat the oven to 375F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.  Using a serrated knife, carefully cut the quiche into 8 pieces.  Place the pieces on a baking sheet and reheat for 15 minutes, or until hot throughout.  Serve immediately.

Quiche shell

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4 thoughts on “The Battle of the Quiches

  1. Ok, you win. I will try this recipe. I agree that in theory, quiche is a marvelous idea. What’s the worst that can happen? For the first time ever I hate something you concocted? Not likely. 🙂

  2. Amazing looking quiche. I know that the ring mold is ESSENTIAL; however, I am going to try with a springform pan anyway to see if it can be successful! I will post my results.

    How did you cook your leeks before putting them in the quiche; sauteed or boiled?

    Thanks!

    • Thanks for the comment, Lauren! For this, we followed Thomas Keller’s leek and blue cheese recipe in his Bouchon cookbook and boiled chopped leeks in salted water for 5 minutes. Then, we removed them, spread them out on paper towels to cool, and then squeezed out the excess water – that’s it! Good luck with the springform pan – I think it should work fine. You might have a bit of trouble removing the ring with the crust laying over the edges of the pan, but I think if you trim it away from the pan after it’s all baked, it should be fine. Just make sure you put the springform on a rimmed baking sheet, because despite our VERY best efforts, we always have a little leakage!

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