Quiche… Really?? I’ve always thought of quick as something relegated to bridal showers or tea parties or other prim occasions. But I’m here to tell you that IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS, people! This week’s Baked Sunday Mornings recipe for Lemon & Black Pepper Quiche from the Cheese chapter of Baked Elements was quite a revelation. Cheesy, eggy, rustic, and zingy, with a pleasant kick of pepper, this dish has shown me that quiche can, in fact, be relevant and even awesome.
What constitutes a proper quiche, anyway? As opposed to an Italian frittata or a Spanish tortilla? According to Gastronomy Gal and Food 52, there are many similarities, namely all three are savory omelette cousins based on a custard-like egg filling, to which can be added a variety of cheeses, vegetables, and meats. Spanish tortillas (not the kind of tortillas we think of in ‘Murica) almost always have potatoes in the filling, and the distinguishing characteristic of a quiche is its pastry crust, which can only be a winning feature, right? I like pastry crusts, eggs, cheese, and vegetables (meat, not so much), so it’s hard to say why the concept of a quiche sounds so unappealing. I think I usually imagine some soggy Quiche Lorraine, which has bacon and too much cream in it– gross. But as I said, this quiche had the potential to change my uneasy relationship with quiche…
Fortunately I already had a round of BAKED pie dough in the freezer left over from something that I had made at some point recently (for once, I didn’t end up throwing out old dough), so this was already looking promising. A word about BAKED’s pie dough: I’ve always been squirmy about making pie crust because it usually shrinks up, burns, or suffers some other pie crust injustice. Contrary to what ended up happening with this quiche, BAKED’s recipe is the first one that has ever come out reliably for me, and it’s disarmingly easy. (I also now use Smitten Kitchen‘s recipe, which is very similar.) So go forth and make pie dough– it’s easier than you think, if you’re reluctant. If you’re like, “Get over it, it’s just pie dough,” carry on with your bad self.
Anywho, this dish was a great reason to use my rarely-used fluted quiche pan with removable bottom. (Yes, I had one even though I’ve never made a quiche before. Nothing to see here.) Once you roll out your dough, you will gently transfer it to the greased pan and press it into the bottom and up the sides. After an hour of chilling in the freezer, blind-bake the crust for about half an hour, followed by another 7-10 minutes with the foil and weights removed, then let it cool.
This is where things got a little sketchy for me. I had recently purchased a “pie weight disc” from Williams-Sonoma, a device that is supposed to function like traditional pie weights, but without juggling a bunch of hot, tiny marbles. When I removed the foil and disc, I was dismayed to find that my crust had shrunken in height dramatically, puffed too much, and was drowning in butter… and so was the oven floor. Grrrr. I’m not sure what went wrong, but I suspect two things: 1) the pan should not be pre-greased because there is nothing for the dough to “hold on” to while baking, and 2) the pie weight disc was not heavy enough to hold down the dough.
I didn’t have another dough round, nor did I have time to make a new batch of dough, so I… I… I… resorted to using store-bought pie crust. *hangs head* Please don’t tell anyone– I’m not proud of myself, but sometimes we have to make tough choices in life; we’ve all been there.
Sadly, that crust, too, slumped down in the pan, which is why I think the pan should not be greased (though it wasn’t overly buttery in itself). It was still the better of the two baked crusts, as it baked up a little deeper than the first one.
Meanwhile, I prepared the filling by making two separate mixtures: 1) flour, eggs, and egg yolks, and 2) half-and-half, crème fraîche (akin to a French-style sour cream, but richer and tastier), and lemon juice. Combine these mixtures, then add the lemon zest, salt, and black and white pepper.
Now the best part: sprinkle your cooled crust with shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan cheeses. (Let’s be honest, that’s what sold me on this recipe.) Pour the filling mixture over the cheese; do not let it overflow. Grind a little more pepper on top, and then to the oven! (I elected not to garnish with the optional lemon slice on top, because meh.)
The quiche took about 35 minutes to bake through, a little longer than the prescribed 25-30 minutes (probably because my quiche was slightly taller in that 8-inch quiche pan than in a standard 9-inch tart pan). The center should be set, and the edges will be a little puffy and cracked.
After my crust woes, I wasn’t sure how this thing was going to look, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a handsome, golden number with well-defined fluted detail all the way around. The top of the quiche had stayed flat, and it really looked quite appetizing. I sliced it cold this morning and ate it rewarmed– DELICIOUS. You can taste all the elements (eggs, cheese, lemon, and pepper) in perfect balance; I could not have been more pleased with the flavor– the cheese also gives it a hint of saltiness. The quiche’s texture is “eggy”, meaning a little jiggly and soft, but still holds its shape.
I just loved this dish– what a wonderful surprise! It is hearty and pleasing to the soul as only comfort food can be. If you’d like to try your hand at a non-stuffy, non-boring, and thoroughly delicious quiche, visit Baked Sunday Mornings for the Lemon & Black Pepper Quiche recipe. See how the other BSM bakers liked this one while you’re there. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there! :)
UPDATE: Some of the other BSM bakers thought this quiche had way too much lemon in it, which was a weird combination with the cheese and pepper. I wonder if the lemon I used happened to be on the small side, as I felt that the quiche had a nice balance of flavors. I would err on the side of using a small lemon, or cut down the amount of lemon juice to accommodate your taste.
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2014.