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How to Create the Perfect Quiche

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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

quiche

quiche

Although she was born and raised in America, in my opinion, Julia Child is the undisputed authority on the topic of French cooking, and nothing speaks of French cooking as much as the quiche.

In the words of Julia...

"The quiche—pronounced keesh—that cheesy open-faced custard pie much in vogue in the mid-1960's, became so ubiquitous, and often so badly made, that its popularity waned. I vote it back in again because it is wonderfully good eating."

What constitutes the perfect quiche? Do a quick Google search on the topic "quiche," and you will find that there are as many flavor combinations of cheese, protein, and vegetables for quiche fillings as there are cooks. I'm not here to propose which specific cheese you should choose, if there should be meat, or how many (if any) vegetables need to reside within that creamy egg-rich custard. I'm suggesting that we get back to basics, examine how to achieve the perfect balance of dairy-egg-cheese, and then we can let our imaginations run wild. Are you ready?

Julia suggests that we use this as our guide for creating the perfect proportion of egg and dairy:

"Break one large egg into a cup and add liquid to reach the 1/2-cup level."

So easy, so straightforward. Here is her recipe for the Quiche Lorraine, the standard upon which every other quiche should be judged.

Julia Child's Quiche Lorraine

For a 9-inch quiche, serves 6

Ingredients

  • 6 crisp strips of cooked bacon
  • A 9-inch prebaked shell
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated Swiss cheese
  • Seasonings: salt, freshly ground pepper, and nutmeg
  • The custard: 3 large eggs blended with enough whipping cream to make 1 1/2 cups

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Break up the pieces of bacon and stew them in the bottom of the shell.
  3. Sprinkle on all but a spoonful of the cheese.
  4. Season the custard and pour it to within 1/8 inch of the rim; sprinkle on the rest of the cheese.
  5. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until puffed and browned.

Perhaps one reason we see fewer quiches today is that people are afraid of their food—deathly afraid of eggs, and butter, and dairy products in general. However, healthy people are allowed a certain amount of each—and need a certain amount of each for a well-balanced diet. Why not enjoy every mouthful of our permitted ration?

— Julia Child, "The Way to Cook"

Let's Examine Each Component

The foundation of the quiche is, obviously, the pastry crust. Julia has her theories on creating the perfect pastry. But since most (all?) of us were not trained at the Cordon Bleu, France, might I suggest these four options (pick whichever one sounds easiest to you).

Next, acquire your dairy (a liquid milk product), then the cheese, and the eggs. We'll discuss each one.

pie crust

pie crust

Pie Crust Recipes

Each of these recipes makes enough for two pies. If you plan to bake only one quiche, the second crust can be shaped and stored (unbaked) in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Sour Cream Pie Dough

Butter and sour cream make this crust very rich and flaky; I find this recipe a bit easier to work with than traditional pie crust recipes that use only shortening or lard.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Instructions

  1. Place flour, salt, and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Cut in butter using on/off pulses. The mixture will resemble coarse crumbs.
  2. Add sour cream and pulse until blended.
  3. Add milk and process until dough forms. Gather dough into a ball. Cut the ball of dough in half.
  4. Place a sheet of waxed paper on a work surface and flour lightly. Place one piece of dough in the center of the floured waxed paper, turn over to coat both sides with flour. Place the second sheet of waxed paper over the top of the dough. (You now have a "sandwich" of waxed paper, floured dough, and waxed paper).
  5. Using a rolling pin, gently roll dough into an 11-inch circle.
  6. Remove the top layer of waxed paper and then gently drape back on the dough. You are doing this to release the dough so that it no longer adheres to the waxed paper. Quickly flip the dough/waxed paper sandwich over and remove the other sheet of waxed paper.
  7. Gently ease the dough into a 9-inch pie plate, being careful to not stretch the dough.
  8. Par-bake the crust in a 375-degree oven. See the video below.

Cream-Cheese Dough

Cream cheese dough has a slight tang and creates a soft yet crisp crust.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons water

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add the shortening and cream cheese and combine with on/off pulses until the mixture looks like a coarse meal. Sprinkle one tablespoon of the water evenly over the mixture and pulse until a dough forms. Depending on your humidity you might need to add some or all of the second tablespoon of water.
  2. Proceed with steps 5 through 8 of the sour cream pastry recipe above.

Basic Pie Dough

This is the standard pie crust recipe, the one your grandmother used years ago.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 6 to 7 tablespoons cold water

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl; add the shortening and work into the flour with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle on the water, a tablespoon at a time, stirring lightly with a fork after each addition.
  2. Proceed with steps 5 through 8 of the sour cream pastry recipe above.

Olive Oil Pie Dough

This recipe uses olive oil instead of shortening or lard. This is an easy-to-do pie crust for inexperienced/novice bakers.

Ingredients (enough for 2 9-inch pie crusts)

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Make a well in the center and add water and olive oil. Mix together with a fork until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 3 or 4 times until smooth. Divide the dough in half. Press each half into a circle, about 4 inches in diameter. Dust with flour if the dough is sticky.
  3. Wrap tightly in plastic and place it in a plastic bag. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, or up to 3 days (the dough can also be frozen for up to a month).
  4. Proceed with steps 5 through 8 of the sour cream pastry recipe above.
milk jar and glass

milk jar and glass

Dairy

What is the best choice of dairy product? Julia Child adores whipping cream, but is it mandatory for the creation of a silky egg custard?

No, goodness no!

I personally like to use 1 part cream and 3 parts skim milk. Two-percent milk is great. Soy or nut-based milk would work just as well. Don't let the milk scare you away from making the custard filling.

cheese

cheese

Cheese

Cheese is not meant to be the star of the show in a quiche. Purists will testify that you can make a perfectly fine quiche with a simple flaky crust and egg custard, no cheese whatsoever.

However, I'm not a purist. I love cheese. I love the oozy ooey-gooey pull of melting strands; I adore the sweet, nutty, funky tastes and aromas that cheese can impart; and the surface of a baked quiche is the perfect place to showcase a gloriously golden, bubbly, Maillard-action imbued Fromage.

Of course, you can use whatever type of cheese your little heart desires. But, let's look at the qualities of a few well-known kinds of cheese, and find if any of them hit all three notes (melting, flavor, and browning).

Type of CheeseMelt-worthinessFun, Flavor, FunkWow Browning

American

Undeniable

Naw, not so much

Turns into something akin to plastic

Mozzarella

Famous (think pizza)

One-dimensional

Browns in time, but not before crust is in peril

Cheddar

Young cheddars melt, sharp-aged don't perform as well

Young Cheddar = meh, Sharp = wow but see notes on melting

Quite good

Gruyère

Fantastic (remember French onion soup)

Sweet, salty, and nutty.

See note under melt-worthiness!

Sheep's milk cheese (manchego, feta)

Higher protein and fat content prevents the cheese from melting well

Fabulous flavor

No. They release butter fat and look oily

If you want a cheese that will melt luxuriously, flavor wonderfully, and brown sublimely, Gruyère is the winner. One cup should do nicely. If you prefer another cheese, be my guest, but keep in mind the guidelines on which ones melt and which do not.

cracked eggs and a beater

cracked eggs and a beater

Eggs

Do you remember when eggs were the basis for a "good, solid breakfast"? They were considered wholesome and healthy—and most of us had chickens in the backyard, so fresh eggs were always available.

Then, about 30 years ago, we started talking about cholesterol. We believed that fat was "bad" and fiber was "good". We sadly gave up our whole milk, fresh butter, creamy cheeses, and (worst of all), our eggs. Overnight our typical 'start of the day' had become poison. And those who simply could not exist without eggs discarded the yolks and prepared scrambled eggs with the whites only (and a touch of canola oil in a nonstick pan).

Oh, the horror!

But now (thankfully) the tide has turned. Nutritionists now recognize that the dietary cholesterol found in eggs does not contribute to high blood cholesterol levels. The typical American diet, which includes lots of animal products (meat) can (and often does) increase blood cholesterol levels, but it is the saturated fats in those animal products that are the real culprit.

In contrast, eggs are LOW in saturated fat—and they contain important nutrients. We now know that eggs are safe to eat and (grandma was right), an important part of our diets.

Don't forget the ratio of eggs to dairy for the perfect quiche—1 large egg in a liquid measuring cup with enough dairy added to equal 1/2 cup.

Other Ingredients?

Now that you have the perfect crust, perfect proportion of eggs to dairy, and have selected the winning cheese, you have the basics for a perfect quiche.

What's that, you say you want more? But, of course. This is where you can let your imagination soar. I do have several words of caution, however:

  • Any ingredients that you add should be cooked. Raw vegetables and/or raw meat or seafood will NOT cook in your quiche.
  • Additions should be as dry as possible before stirring in. Blot grease from any meats, pat dry seafood, drain vegetables (especially the really moist ones such as cooked mushrooms or steamed spinach)

Want a few suggestions? Here are some sure to please combinations, or mix and match to come up with your own specialty. The total amount of ingredients should be 1 to 2 cups (no more than that).

MeatFruit or Vegetable #1Fruit or Vegetable #2CheeseExtra Bit of Flavor

diced cooked ham

cooked asparagus

 

Gruyere

 

cooked crumbled bacon

sauteed yellow onion

 

young gouda

 

 

steamed spinach (squeezed dry)

sauteed mushrooms slices

Swiss

dry thyme

cooked crumbled Italian sausage

oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (blotted dry)

sliced Kalamata olives

 

 

 

3 fresh figs, diced

 

goat cheese

handful of walnuts

 

Roma tomatoes, sliced thinly and blotted dry

 

bocconcini (Mozzarella balls)

fresh basil, torn

diced cooked chicken

dried cranberries

 

Gruyere

diced pecans and fresh minced rosemary

crab

 

 

white Cheddar

minced green onions or chives

smoked salmon

 

 

Swiss

rinsed drained capers and fresh dill weed

 

apple (peeled, cored, diced and sauteed in butter until softened)

 

brie

 

© 2019 Linda Lum

Comments

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on February 14, 2019:

I know I CAN make my own crust, Linda. I just don't want to take the time. My mom would be appalled that I buy my crusts. She makes hers from scratch and wouldn't think of serving a store bought crust to guests. Or family, for that matter.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 14, 2019:

Peggy, thank you for stopping by.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 14, 2019:

Shauna, Rachel Alba (in the comment below yours) asked for a quiche for one. I've found a recipe and will be sharing that next Monday. I've used pre-made crusts when I'm in a rush, but I believe in you. You CAN make your own. Use one of the recipes I've given here. I'll be at your side cheering you on all the way.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 14, 2019:

I love eating a good quiche and they are so versatile. Thanks for including different pie crust recipes.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on February 14, 2019:

I love quiche, Linda! However, I've never made one myself. The tip you passed on regarding the ratio between eggs and milk is very helpful. I prefer quiche without meat, but I'd bet shrimp and/or lobster would be a very tasty addition. I definitely need to try my hand at making a quiche for myself. I'll admit tho, that I cheat when it comes to pie crusts; I buy ready-to-bake crusts found in the refrigerated or freezer section of the grocery store.

You've inspired me!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 12, 2019:

Rachel, perhaps I can craft a "quiche for one." I'll gladly work on that for you. It might show up in next Monday's Q&A, so stay tuned.

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on February 12, 2019:

Hi Linda. I love quiches, but don't make them often. Since both of my daughters are watching their weight and my husband doesn't like them, I don't make them, but I miss them. Thanks for all of the information, it is making me even hungrier for them.

Blessings to you.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 12, 2019:

Bill, I DO like you and, dang it, maybe I need to bake a quiche for you one of these days. It's the least a neighbor can do, right? Have an awesome day my friend. The snow is starting to melt.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 12, 2019:

Eric, you are hilarious. I'd love to watch you make a pie crust. I know you can do it. Yes, cheese and eggs is hard to beat. I love having brinner (breakfast for dinner).

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on February 12, 2019:

Good morning Pamela. The current temperature is 35 degrees and the snow is beginning to melt. Life may soon return to some semblance of normal. I'm glad you liked my ideas. We enjoy quiche but don't make it very often (I'm not sure why). Perhaps I should put one into the menu plan soon.

I hope you have a wonderful day. It's always good to hear from you.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 12, 2019:

Ya know, I don't think I've ever had quiche. How is that possible? Oh well, a stunted youth leads to stunted adulthood. lol You still like me and that's all that counts for anything.

Have a brilliant Tuesday, my friend.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 12, 2019:

Sounds about perfect to me. But what do I know. I got to sit in the rocker in mom's bedroom and watch Julia Childs with her and now my boy and I watch cooking shows.

Cheese with eggs is so hard to beat, anytime. I like my dinner breakfast.

But does this mean the crust "A 9-inch prebaked shell"? Made me think you pop an egg shell in there. But a nine inch would be ostrich ;-)

I was cooking for forest fighters in Yosemite. We needed more eggs badly. My quarter master was dispatched. No eggs in town. We already bought all of them. (5,000) souls to cook for) He heard of the Ostrich farm and what a save. I gave him the fifth of Wild Turkey award - I don't think they make Wild Ostrich.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2019:

I have eaten quiche but never made it. These ideas sound delicious to me. I will use your tips and try one out soon. This is a great detailed article that is so useful in the details your shared to make a delicious meal.

Have a good day Linda.

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