How to bake the perfect quiche

SARAH MCINERNEY
Last updated 05:00 19/05/2011
quiche Lorraine
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THE CLASSIC: A really smoky bacon is key to a good quiche Lorraine.

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Quiche is one of those classic dishes with mass appeal - a bit old fashioned but hard to refuse.

An enticing blend of eggy, cheesy goodness encased in pastry, it is an indulgence that won't break the bank, only the scales if consumed too frequently. Quiche is definitely a sometime food!

Found everywhere from bakeries to supermarkets, cafes to catering menus, quiches can vary greatly not only in quality but also in execution. Variables include the type of pastry and cheeses used, the richness of the custard, and the combination of ingredients added for the filling.

There are even recipes for pastry-free versions out there not to mention the quiche's quick turnaround cousin the frittata.

My personal favourite is spinach and feta with a bit of nutmeg sprinkled into the custard. But undoubtedly the best-known is quiche Lorraine. This was named not after a person but after the region of France where it originated and features that other ingredient so often paired with egg - bacon. 

Traditional Lorraine recipes do not include cheese but modern versions often call for it.

Tips from a pastry chef (and his recipe)

Pastry chef Christopher Thé says these days there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to making quiche. 

Some people will prefer puff pastry over the more commonly used shortcrust. Others will lighten up their custard by using milk instead of cream. As for fillings, Thé says anything that goes well with egg is worth exploring.

He makes three varieties, the biggest seller being the caramelised onion and goats curd with walnut. The others are a Lorraine (a really smoky bacon is key) and a mushroom (Swiss Browns have a good flavour).  

"When you don't have enough filling I tell the guys here it's like a sandwich without the meat," he says.

One of the most useful tips I learned from Thé is to leave the rings out of the bottom of the tart pans and instead place them on a baking paper lined tray. This should help the bottom of the tarts to brown. He makes small quiches (12cm), so doesn't have to blind bake the pastry, thereby cutting quite a few steps out of the process.

Another tip is to run a chopstick around the quiche so the solid ingredients in the filling don't all sink to the bottom.

"For us the aim is to get the outside golden and the inside just set like scrambled eggs," he says.

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"That's the real skill there - you don't overcook the eggs or undercook the pastry. But if you're worried about that just blind bake your pastry."

Here's a summary of Thé's other tips:

  • If you leave the butter a little bit speckled when you rub it into the flour you'll get a flaky pastry.
  • He doesn't use gruyere, he prefers a mozzarella or some other kind of stretchy curd cheese.
  • Don't bake it too fast or it will puff up and then sink and become rubbery.
  • Thickened cream can help stop the mixture from spilling out when the tray is put in the oven.
  • Adding extra egg yolks to the custard can prevent it from going rubbery

Christopher Thé's quiche recipe
Makes around 10 individual quiches (12cm diameter tart pans)

Pastry
400 g plain flour
200 g butter
Pinch of salt
140 ml milk (slightly warm)

Custard
1 dozen eggs
900 ml thickened cream
3 extra egg yolks
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper 

Filling
Whatever takes your fancy.

To make the pastry, mix the flour, butter and salt to crumb.  Add the slightly warmed milk and mix until combined. Do not over mix.  Let it rest in the fridge for an hour then roll out the pastry to a thickness of 2-3mm. Use this to line your well greased tart pan. If making small quiches you won't need to blind bake the pastry. For a family sized quiche you'll need to include this step. 

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. To make the custard combine the eggs, cream and extra yolks into a bowl and whisk until combined. Season well. Add two tablespoons of mozzarella and a filling of your choice to each pastry case before pouring in the custard.

Once filled, bake it the oven for 15 mins at 200 degrees, then lower the temperature to 180 degrees and bake it for a further 10 mins, then drop it to 150 degrees and bake it for a final 10 minutes.

RECIPE ROADTEST

This pastry was easy to make and handle and had a lovely smooth taste without being too buttery, making it a good base for the filling and custard, which is pretty rich. Having been burnt before by the blind baking process (no pun intended) I opted to make individual quiches and can honestly say it took so much stress out of the process I'm tempted never to make a large quiche again.

I made two combinations. Spinach and feta and, inspired by Thé, a caramelised onion and goat's cheese. Both were lovely but the latter was very rich. "Delicious but full on" was how my taste tester described it.  I think next time I'll make my custard half cream, half milk, just to lighten it up a bit and serve it with a green salad. 

Overall this was an easy recipe to execute and led to an impressive end result. Anyone who subscribes to the 'real men don't eat quiche' philosophy doesn't know what they're missing.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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