I can’t actually express how delightful this quiche is. It takes a lot of patience, and quite a bit of time to get things right, but it’s worth it for an occasional treat. Who knows, I might get quicker with practice! It would work well with other fillings and cheeses as well – the pastry and custard parts will stand up to lots of tinkering.
125g plain flour
50g salted butter at fridge temperature
1-2 teaspoons cold water
For this filling, you will need:
4 rashers smoked bacon
1 white onion
2 large eggs
150ml single cream
50g Gruyère cheese
A couple of grinds of pepper
A couple of gratings of nutmeg
A sprinkling of chives and parsley, fresh
The first thing to prepare is the shortcrust pastry, as it will need to chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. I like to make it, chill it, roll and line the case and chill again before I bake it to make sure it stays thin and crisp.
1. When measuring out the butter, dice it into small pieces to make it easier to incorporate the flour. Add the flour to the bowl and rub the two together. This will take patience and strong fingers, but the better you can incorporate the two to make small even crumbs, the more consistent your pastry will be. Remember, it’s important to rub, not knead, as overworking will activate the gluten in the flour and give you a tough quiche crust.
2. When you think this is about evenly mixed, add in a teaspoon of cold water and mix this in. If this is still really dry, you might want to add more water, but you should try to get this dough to come together with as little moisture as possible. It takes effort and perseverance, but it’s worth it to make the pastry as “short” as possible. This basically means it will be crisp, biscuity and thin, rather than soft and podgy.
3. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes or so. Now it’s time to roll out the pastry. I find it easiest to do this by placing the dough between two layers of cling film, as it means you don’t have to add any flour to stop the rolling pin sticking, helping you keep it short. Roll it out as round and as thin as you can – a couple of mm thick is what you want to ensure a thin, crisp base.
4. Butter a loose-bottomed tart tin and carefully lay in the rolled out pastry. Try your best to get it right into the corners, and press up against the flutes in the tin. Don’t worry too much if it cracks a little. You can always patch it up. Using a ball of excess dough can help push it into the corners if you’re worried about pushing your finger or nail through it. It’s important to properly patch any cracks to stop the egg leaking through to the tin and making the base soggy. I haven’t yet decided on the right school of though for the edges of the crust. Some chefs advocate cutting all of the excess off at this stage, whilst others say you should leave a bit extra then run a rolling pin over the top once the case has been baked to compensate for shrinking in the oven. I’d say I was somewhere in between. This will shrink down the sides, but in my experience it happens when the pastry starts to cool and contract. If you take the latter course of action, you put yourself at risk of cracking the case when you trim it, or of getting the case stuck to the tin. What I tend to do is cut it off to the top level of the tin while it’s still raw then push the pastry back into the flutes so it spreads to sit a little above the top.
5. Let the case chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. I can’t stress just how important this is. Not only will it help the pastry to stay short, but it will help to stop it shrinking down the sides of the tin.
6. Line with greaseproof paper and baking beads and bake blind for about 20 minutes. When it starts to brown at the edge, remove the paper and beans and put back in for 5 minutes or so to let the base dry out.
8. During all the rolling and baking, you might want to fry off your onions and bacon so they can cool to let you proceed as soon as the pastry is cool. It’s best if the onion gets really soft and caramelised.
9. Now you’re ready to make and pour out the custard! This is where everything comes together really quickly. I find it easiest to make the custard up in a jug for easy transfer to the pastry case. Crack the eggs into the jug, whisk up a bit with a fork just to loosen them up, then add the cream, seasoning, nutmeg and fresh herbs.
Leave to cool and enjoy!