May 6, 2014 § 2 Comments
The first time I made pastry was for mince pies. It was the first Christmas we were spending with Ollie’s family and I wanted to do a good job. And that was how I learned that anal tendencies and really flaky pastry kind of go together. You know how chefs come in two camps? There’s the pinch-of-this relaxed Mediterranean kind, and the uber-precise wiry kind. Well, the second group is the one knocking out superlative pastry.
Back then, the steps I followed to ensure good pastry included: keeping the butter in the freezer for an hour or so before starting, using a metal bowl and putting it intermittently back into the fridge to ensure the mix was staying as cold as possible, using two knives to cut the butter into the pastry and never, ever touching it by hand until the very last minute when the dough has to be brought together manually. I added the ice-cold water drop by drop, just to the point at which the dough would barely hold together and no more. Yep, I did say anal. And that pastry was both a complete bugger to work with and beautifully light and flaky. Nowadays I’m less uptight with my pies and tarts but those principles have stayed with me. I still keep my ingredients cold and work fast. I use a pastry cutter – one of the few unitaskers I think is genuinely necessary in the kitchen – to keep my warm hands out of the dough as much as possible. I’m happy to work with a slightly wetter dough these days as it means that rolling out the dough is actually possible and that I will, therefore, make pastry. And that means pecan pie, lemon tart, beef stewed in ale and topped with a pastry lid, and the ultimate pastry vehicle: quiche.
My quiche-making has recently been hampered by the fact that both Tartine and Craftsman and Wolves make fabulous examples of the genre, and both are within a 5 minute walk of our apartment. I know, poor me. I made quiche this week with a family dinner in mind. Let’s just say that standing in front of the oven at 6.30pm, cussing at the extra minutes the thing was taking to bake, was not my finest moment. Don’t make my mistake. Make your quiche in advance, with the leisure of time. It’s ideal about an hour out of the oven, still warm but far from hot, but it’s also great cold from the fridge or at room temperature, or wrapped up in foil for a one handed lunch at a desk or on a hike (preferably the latter). Please don’t get het up about how butter- and cream-laden the whole thing is. It’s rich and unctuous so you have a moderate slice with a pile of salad on the side and a small glass of wine if you so please.
Adapted from Jamie Magazine
For the pastry:
500g all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
130g unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
For the filling:
1 tbsp butter
140g bacon, diced
140g ham, diced
140g gruyère cheese, grated
250ml crème fraîche
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 egg yolks
A pinch of ground nutmeg
You want to start making the pastry well in advance of assembling the quiche – about 2 hours before you want to bake it.
Place the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Cut the butter into cubes and add to the food processor. Pulse to chop the butter into the flour but don’t overcombine – you want to keep pea-sized chunks of butter in the dough if possible.
Add the two egg yolks to the processor and again pulse to blend them into the dough. You will now add ice-cold water gradually, just until the dough begins to come together. Begin with about 4 tablespoons, pulse. Add a little more water and pulse again if necessary, until the dough begins to hold together in large clumps.
Remove to a large bowl or lightly floured surface and bring the dough together into a bowl – you may need to sprinkle a touch more water into the dough at this point. Wrap the dough well in plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for at least an hour.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thick. Lay the pastry over a round 32cm/12inch deep tart tin and carefully press into the base and sides. Trim any excess with a sharp knife, line the case with 4 layers of clingfilm or with a layer of parchment paper, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. To blind bake the pastry, fill with pastry weights (or dried rice or beans) and bake for 15 minutes. Lift out the weights using the clingfilm or parchment and bake the pastry for 5 more minutes, or until the base is dry. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pan over a medium heat and cook the bacon until softened. Drain on kitchen paper and allow to cool, then combine in a bowl with the ham and gruyère cheese and spread evenly over the cooled pastry case.
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Whisk the crème fraîche, eggs, egg yolks, milk and nutmeg together in a bowl and season generously. Carefully pour the mixture into the pastry case.
Bake the quiche in the oven for 40–45 minutes or until the filling has set and the top is beginning to turn golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin before serving.