Blind baking is an essential component to perfect quiche. It creates a seal between the creamy interior and pastry bottom and ensures a crisp tart shell every time. Longer is better - Darina recommends blind baking your pastry for25 minutes.
Delicious quiche has double cream in the filling, that is why it tastes so luxurious. If you use only eggs in the filling, you run the risk of a very hard, very bouncy interior. If you don't have double cream, milk is acceptable at a pinch and crème fraîche adds a very nice acidic touch, particularly if you are using smoked fish in your quiche.
If a flavour combination does not go well together outside of the quiche, it will not go well together inside it. Be mindful of both flavour combinations and also of water content. Adding vegetables that will leach water in the cooking (like tomatoes) may change the structure of your quiche. Consider precooking these vegetables and draining excess liquid before adding them to your cream and egg mixture.
The crowning glory of any quiche is the cheese. Parmesan and Gruyère are wonderful additions, as is goat's cheese, Manchego, a vintage Cheddar or a mild Brie.
When you remove your quiche from the oven it should have a slight wobble to it. Allow it to cool to room temperature before slicing and serving with a green salad that has been topped in a peppery vinaigrette.
This is my mother's recipe, and the one I use as a basis for all quiches
Preparation Time 20 mins
Cooking Time 60 mins
Total Time 1 hours 20 mins
For the shortcrust pastry:
175g (6oz) plain white flour
75g (3oz) butter
1 egg yolk, preferably free-range
2 tsp cold water, approx
For the filling:
1 tbsp olive oil
175g 6oz) streaky bacon cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) lardons
100g (4oz) chopped onions
3 eggs and 2 egg yolks
300ml (½ pint) double cream
1 scant tbsp chopped parsley
1 scant tbsp chopped chives
110g (4oz) Gruyère cheese, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
For the pastry, sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl.
Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour and then rub in with your fingertips. Keep everything as cool as possible; if the fat is allowed to melt, the finished pastry may be tough. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, stop.
Whisk the egg or egg yolk and add some water. Using a fork to stir, add just enough liquid to bring the pastry together, then discard the fork and collect it into a ball with your hands, this way you can judge more accurately if you need a few more drops of liquid. Although rather damp pastry is easier to handle and roll out, the resulting crust can be tough and may well shrink out of shape as the water evaporates in the oven. The drier and more difficult-to-handle pastry will give a crisper, shorter crust. This will make the pastry much less elastic and easier to roll.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured worktop and line the 23cm (9 inch) diameter baking tin, the pastry should come up just above the top of the tin. Line with kitchen paper and fill to the top with dried beans. Rest for 15 minutes in the fridge.
Blind bake the tart shell for 25 minutes. Remove the beans and paper. The base should be almost fully cooked. Remove the parchment paper and beans, brush the base with a little beaten egg white and replace in the oven for 3-4 minutes. This will seal the base and avoid the “soggy bottom” effect.
Brush the prebaked tart shell with a little beaten egg and pop back into the oven for 3-4 minutes or until almost cooked. Cool.
Heat the oil in a sauté pan and cook the bacon over a medium heat until crisp. Remove to a plate and cool. Add the chopped onions to the pan and sweat gently on a low heat in the same oil for a further 10 minutes - covered.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a medium-sized bowl, add the cream, herbs, cheese and cool bacon and onions. Mix well and add seasoning. Taste or otherwise, heat a frying pan, cook a teaspoon of the mixture on a gentle heat for 2 or 3 minutes until it coagulates – taste and if necessary correct the seasoning.
Pour the filling into the pastry base and return to the oven for 30–40 minutes or until the centre has just set. Serve warm with a green salad and relish.