Quiches are funny things aren’t they, I mean they can either be wonderful or a soggy mess.
For me, quiches are reminiscent of good times – of picnics, of summer salads, those warm nights spent eating outside, of homemade loveliness using rich-yoked eggs laid by your own hens.
The quiche is a quintessential French pastry – classically filled with a rich baked custard and encased in a gorgeously crisp pastry – fillings can be various.
If you’re buying a quiche, it can be a quick convenience food – pop it on a plate and sling some salad and pickles alongside it and you have a meal.
But purchasing one is a risky business, how do you know you’re going to get a good one?
Will the pastry be crisp or water-logged? Will the filling be light and fluffy or a just a bit gooey? Will it be packed with filling or a little thread bare?
In all of this, quiche Lorraine must certainly be the most classic but also the most hit and miss.
You’d think that the filling – bacon, eggs, cheese and onion – would be easy enough to get right but the simplicity of this quiche can also be its downfall. Mass produced ones are often wet and flabby, so making one seems the only way forward.
The first time I voiced the idea of having a quiche Lorraine for supper it was met with a crinkled nose and a slight look of disgust. The poor quiche gets a lot of stick, there seems to be too many bad connotations and memories associated with it.
I assured my other half that it would be delicious, why wouldn’t it be, I was using a recipe by Heston Blumenthal – yes, Heston has his own recipe for this classic great.
And, if you’ve got four hours 20 minutes to spare I’d recommend nothing more than to make it – yes, Heston’s quiche takes more than four hours to make (plus overnight resting naturally).
Is it worth it, bloody hell yes!
You need nothing more than time, enthusiasm and a raft of ingredients.
You know the final product is going to be great when the recipe calls for beaten egg in grams not whole units – this is precise cooking and boy does it pay off.
The pastry is thin, delicate and crisp.
The filling is moist, sweet and incredibly sophisticated.
The pastry – a blend of plain flour, salt, unsalted butter and egg – is easy to make, but then time becomes its best friend. It’s initially rested for 30 minutes in the fridge before being rolled to a thickness of 2mm. It’s then frozen for 30 minutes after which its laid into the tart case and frozen for a further 10 minutes. Next up, it’s blind baked for 30 minutes, then baked for another 20 minutes, then rested before the filling is added – that’s a lot of pastry love.
The filling – a blend of unsalted butter, onions, bacon, eggs, cream, Emmental cheese, Gruyere cheese and nutmeg – is quicker to make. The onions are cooked over a low heat for an hour until they are soft, golden and sweet. The bacon is fried until just cooked before it’s added to all the other ingredients. This mixture is then brought up to a temperature of 63 degrees celcius before it’s poured into the pastry case. It’s baked for about 40 minutes until the temperature of the filling hits 70 degrees celcius. Finally it’s rested for 20 minutes at room temperature before being slung (lovingly) into the fridge overnight to rest.
I’ve made this quiche three times before and it’s at this point that I always feel I need a well-deserved beer!
The latest incarnation was made yesterday and tonight we get to devour it with glee and unbarred pleasure.
Making this may seem like a right ol’ faff, but often the best kind of food just needs time and love. Time, as it turns out, is one special ingredient.
If Heston gives me nothing else in this life, I really won’t mind. The gift of this quiche is all I need from him.