Quiche gives my husband cognitive dissonance, you know, that odd feeling you get when you confront two contradictory ideas or feelings in the same thing, usually in yourself, like holding two seemingly contradictory political views. Every time he bites into a quiche, he expects the sweetness of a custard pie—one of his favorite pies—but can’t wrap his head around the savory deliciousness of quiche ingredients. It just doesn’t make sense to him. It’s not that he won’t eat a savory omelet; I think it’s the pie format and that creamy custard that confuses him. Anyway, he’s getting a steak for dinner.
I’m following the recipe I’ve always used, from my old Joy of Cooking (1967). It begins with a pâte brisée crust that uses room temperature butter, instead of the cold butter that you would expect. It can even be pressed into a pie plate instead of being rolled, but I prefer to chill it and roll it. It’s a dough that handles very nicely and holds up to the wet custard, as long as you blind bake it a little.
The filling possibilities for a quiche are endless, but I usually stick with the traditional bacon and Swiss cheese, with Gruyere being my Swiss of choice. You can make this recipe in a regular pie plate, but I like the high, formal collar you get with a spring form pan.
Bacon Gruyere Quiche with Fresh Herbs
Preheat oven to 450° to bake the pie crust; allow time to lower to 375° for baking the quiche.
Pâte brisée crust:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2-3/4 cup water (does not need to be ice water)
1 beaten egg white (you will use the yolk in the filling, below)
- Work the butter into the flour-salt mixture with your fingers. A food processor would be too much with the soft butter and probably work it too much, resulting in a tough dough.
- Make a well in the center and add 1/2 cup of the water, then stir quickly with a fork until it holds together, adding more water as needed. I used a little more than the 1/2 cup, but not as much as the 3/4 cup.
- Dump the dough onto plastic wrap and shape into a ball, then flatten into a round of about 1/2″ thickness. Cover with the wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Roll out the chilled dough to fit your pie plate or spring form pan. Fill the pan with parchment paper and some kind of weights—beans work well to keep the sides up in a spring form pan.
- Bake at 450° for about 12 minutes. remove beans and decide if you want to bake it a few minutes longer. It won’t be completely done, but will be done enough to stay crisp on the bottom through baking the custard. Brush the crust with beaten egg white and set aside while you prepare the custard.
- Turn the oven down to 375°, opening the door to hasten the cooling.
1/4 lb thick sliced smoked bacon, diced and browned
2 cups shredded or diced Gruyere cheese
3 whole eggs, plus 1 yolk from the egg you separated to brush the crust, above
2 cups whole milk, scalded and cooled slightly
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
a pinch of grated nutmeg, fresh or ground
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- While the crust is baking, sauté the bacon over medium heat to brown and to render out most of the fat. Drain on paper towels.
- Sprinkle cooked bacon and shredded cheese over bottom of baked pie crust.
- Whisk eggs with the herbs and seasonings, then whisk in the cooled milk quickly.
- Pour the custard over the bacon and cheese.
- Bake at 375° for 35-40 minutes, until the top is browned. This is longer than I would cook a custard pie, because I hate a custard pie that weeps, but it works for a quiche that is loaded with other filling ingredients, and I use a lot more cheese than the original recipe.