If you haven’t had quiche lately, it’s not too late to fix that problem. Quiche is one of the most versatile dishes in the world – easy to prepare, healthful, and incredibly delicious. By following a few simple rules, the perfect quiche is attainable every time you set out on the quiche journey.
The History of Quiche
Although quiche is now considered a classic French dish, it actually originated in Germany. It started in the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, under German rule, and the word quiche is from the German word, kuchen, meaning cake. The French later renamed the Lothringen region Lorraine, leading to the quiche Lorraine, which remains the most classic of all quiches.
Quiche became popular in England sometime after World War II, and in the United States during the 1950s. Today, there are many varieties of quiche. They can be prepared as individual quiches tartlets or as a large family-size quiche.
What is Quiche?
Quiche is a sort of pie that consists of a custard-like substance made with milk and eggs, a vegetable filling, and cheese. All of that is poured into a pie crust and baked. The French are masters of the quiche and they have devised the perfect formula that consists of one part egg to two parts milk. A good rule of thumb is two eggs per one cup of milk, or three eggs per 1.5 cups of milk for a nine-inch pie crust. You want just enough eggs to set the custard, but not too many that the quiche becomes rubbery. You also want your quiche to have a wobbly-like feel as it comes out of the oven. This means that it will be silky and smooth with every bite.
The Layers – Crust, Cheese, Filling, and Custard
Crust: The first step in making quiche is preparing the pie crust – unless you prefer to use a ready-made pie crust (which is a tremendous time-saver). The crust can be “blind-baked,” which entails briefly baking it before filling. Alternatively, it does not have to be baked before filling at all. See our pie-crust recipe below.
Cheese: If the crust was blind-baked, let it cool. Spread grated cheese over the bottom of the unbaked or semi-baked pie shell.
Filling: Melt butter in a skillet and sauté vegetables until soft. Making a quiche is a good way to use leftovers. All the filling ingredients should be cooked, not raw, before they are added to the egg mixture. Filling is layered on the cheese.
Custard: Eggs and milk (or cream – or a combination) are whisked together. (Some people add a tablespoon or so of flour to the egg/milk mixture, but it is an optional aid to help the quiche “set.”) The custard is poured on top of the filling.
How to Tell When the Quiche is Done
Baked quiches should be removed from the oven just before the center is completely set. The center should jiggle or wobble very slightly when the dish is gently shaken. The custard will continue to cook after it’s removed from the oven and the center will firm up quickly. Try not to overbake as overbaked custard may curdle or become rubbery.
To test for doneness, insert a knife about one inch from the center of the quiche, midway between the center and the edge. If the knife is clean when pulled out, the custard is done. If any custard clings to the blade, place the quiche back in the oven for a few more minutes and then test again.
Classic Quiche Filling
A classic quiche consists of a vegetable filling over a layer of cheese. The cheese makes the delectable custard even more luscious. There’s no hard-and-fast rule regarding amounts when it comes to the cheese. Two cups of cheese makes an especially rich quiche, which some may regard as too much of a good thing. A cup of cheese is usually enough for a fancy dinner party, or for a weeknight dinner.
The vegetable filling needs to be thoroughly cooked and not left too watery (particularly relevant for spinach and mushrooms). Aim for one to two cups of cooked ingredients — fewer brings the silkiness of the quiche to the fore, while more makes a more substantial meal. Wilted spinach, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, and asparagus are all favorites in various combinations.
How to Make a Great Pie Crust
Ingredients (for two 9-inch pie crusts)
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
- 1/2 cup ice water
- In a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt to combine.
- Add the cold butter and pulse to combine. Scatter the butter cubes evenly over the flour. Pulse in short bursts until the flour is crumbly with evenly distributed butter cubes in pieces no bigger than a pea.
- Add half the water and pulse again. Drizzle the rest of the water onto the butter/flour mixture. Pulse a few times to combine.
- If the dough holds together easily, you’ve got enough liquid. If it is still crumbly, add a tablespoon of water and pulse again.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces and press each into a disk with your hands. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Roll out one of the circles of dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s about two inches wider than your pie pan (for a standard 9-inch pie, roll to 11 inches in diameter).
- Press the dough into the pie pan. Tuck the pie dough into the plate, using your thumbs to arrange it evenly. Remove any dough hanging over the lip of the plate. Chill the pie dough for 1 hour.
How to Make a Fool-Proof Mushroom Quiche
Makes one (9-inch) pie or about 8 servings
- 1 9-inch pie crust
- 2 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots or scallions
- 1 pound assorted mushrooms, quartered or sliced (include some shiitakes if you want richer mushroom flavor)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup Gruyère or Cheddar cheese, grated
- Blind-bake the prepared crust: Heat the oven to 350° F. Line the pie crust with parchment and fill with pie weights or beans. Bake for 10 minutes and remove the weights and parchment. Bake for another 10 minutes, until just starting to brown. Cool while you prepare the filling.
- While the crust is baking, prepare your quiche filling. Sauté the mushrooms in the butter or oil until most of the liquid has evaporated. Set aside.
- Sprinkle the cheese over the bottom of the pie crust and top with the filling.
- Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, and salt and pepper until frothy. Pour the custard into the pie crust.
- Bake the quiche at 350°F for 30 to 40 minutes, until the edges are set but the quiche still jiggles a little in the center.
- Cool for at least 20 minutes, but ideally overnight.
- Quiche can be served cold, room temperature, or warmed.
Quiche: The All-in-One Meal
The great thing about quiche is that it can be baked and cooled up to 3 days in advance, refrigerated and then reheated before serving. Leftover quiche can be stored wrapped in the fridge for up to five days. Think of quiche as an upgraded omelet or a veggie-packed pie. It has all the elements of a full dairy meal – eggs, vegetables, and cheese, with a touch of carbs and fat – and it never fails to please.