Not much to it

There are some foods out there that are built to surprise. (White asparagus ice cream, anyone?)  Quiche is not one of them.

I mean, look at it.  Eggy filling baked in a crust.  You might swap out one cheese for another, or sub in mushrooms for greens or, if you're really living on the edge, add some hot pepper flakes so it will be...  spicy!, or, I don't know, throw some breadcrumbs on top so it will be (wait for it)... crunchy! Quiche, guys.  There's not much to it.

Now, I'm not complaining. I like quiche. I like that a single slice feels like a proper meal. I like that it's as fitting for breakfast as it is for dinner or lunch. I like that when I say, "quiche," Mia hears "kiss," and leans over and plants one on me.  Most of the quiches I've met in my lifetime have been pretty darn good, and a few have been truly fantastic. My friend Matya, despite all his shrugging and repeated claims that it's just eggs, cheese, and vegetables in a frozen crust, makes a hell of a quiche, and so do the folks at Oliv, which I mentioned last time. I've been impressed by quiche before, but never surprised. I never suspected I could be. But hey, I guess that's what makes a surprise a surprise.

The thing about this quiche, the surprise, is that it has no cheese in it. None. What it does have is crème fraîche, so instead of a dense, springy quiche with height and heft, you get something creamy, custardy, and smooth. It's terrific. I served it at a brunch at our place last month, and no fewer than four people rushed over to me with their mouths full, gesturing at their plates, chewing and swallowing as quickly as they could so that they could hurry up and ask me what on earth was the story with this quiche.  That made me very happy.

The crust is something special too, which is the opposite of surprising given that the entire plate of butter you see here makes its way inside. (To be fair, the recipe makes enough dough for two crusts, so you're actually looking at double the butter in a single quiche. Still.)  I'm off to the kitchen right now, actually, to get a batch of this dough started. A friend of mine had a baby last month and she needs quiche.  The recipe now, because I bet you do, too.  

Custardy Swiss Chard Quiche
Adapted from Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson

You can prepare the custard in advance and store it, covered, in the refrigerator for up to four days. You'll want to give it a good whisk before you pour it into the crust to take care of any flour, pepper, or thyme that may have settled at the bottom. The pastry dough recipe makes enough for two 9- or 10-inch shells. Perfect for when you're making a couple of quiches for a big, brunchy spread (just double the filling). Or, use half now and freeze the rest for another time.

For the pastry:
3 cups + 2 tablespoons (455 grams) all-purpose flour 
1 cup + 5 tablespoons (300 grams) unsalted butter, very cold
2/3 cup (150 milliliters) ice water
1 teaspoon salt

For the custard:
5 eggs
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup crème fraîche
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 cup coarsely chopped Swiss chard

Make the pastry and bake the shell:
Combine the ice water and salt in a small bowl, stir, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Put the flour into the bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces and scatter over the flour. Pulse briefly - say, about 15 short pulses. You should see plenty of pea-sized butter lumps. Add the water and salt mixture and pulse a few more times, until the dough just starts coming together. It won't be completely smooth; you'll still have some butter lumps. (You'll take care of them when you roll out the dough later on.)

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide into two equal balls, and pat into 1-inch thick disks. You'll want to handle the dough as little as possible during all of this so that it stays nice and cool. Wrap well in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight. (You can pop one of the disks into the freezer if you're planning on making only one quiche.)  

Place one disk of chilled dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it out to fit your 9- or 10-inch pie dish. (For a pretty presentation, you can use a tart pan with a removable bottom.) I like to transfer the dough into the pan by rolling it around the pin, then unrolling it over the pan. Press gently into place and trim any excess dough. Crimp the edge with a fork, if you want, or leave it alone.  

For a flakier crust, chill the shell until it's firm to the touch, 30-60 minutes. While the shell is chilling, heat the oven to 375.

Line the chilled shell with parchment paper, fill with pie weights - I use dried beans - and bake for about 25 minutes, until it begins to brown. Remove the parchment paper and weights and bake for another 5 minutes or so, until the shell is golden brown. Let cool completely.

Make the custard:
Put the flour and one of the eggs in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the remaining 4 eggs and whisk well. In a large bowl, whisk the crème fraîche until smooth, then whisk in the milk. Pour the egg and flour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the crème fraîche and milk. Whisk in the salt, pepper, and thyme, then stir in the chard.

Assemble and bake the quiche:
Pour the custard into the cooled pastry shell and bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 325 and bake until the filling is just set - the center of the quiche should feel slightly firm - about 30 minutes longer. The original recipe suggests waiting 20 minutes before slicing so that the custard has time to set up, but I suggest waiting even longer. Or, make the quiche in advance and reheat, loosely covered in foil, for 15 minutes at 325 degrees. It will slice beautifully. It's also very good at room temperature.  


Molly said...

i definitely need quiche. this quiche. (and more of that white asparagus ice cream!) xo

Katherine said...

Am I just too sleepy to be reading this, or is the swiss chard not mentioned in the recipe? Would love to see that part too!

Anonymous said...

i do not see the swiss chard part in the recipe , am i just missing it ?? i see custard and pastry.
any tips on the chard would be great !
thank you

Jess said...

Molly - Will make it for you, soon. xo.

Katherine and Anonymous - Yikes! I'm the sleepy one today! Apologies for the omission, and thanks so much for bringing it to my attention. Should be all fixed now.

Gayle said...

Quiche sounds like kiss! Kids teach us the most amazing things. Give Mia a big slice for me (and I can't wait to make my own "kiss").
- G

Anonymous said...

thank you for adding that in the recipe . just to clarify about the chard : it is supposed to be chopped when you put it in the custard , but not sauteed or anything , you just put it in raw and then it bakes in pie shell with custard?
i just worried that it might ooze too much water out that way , but i will try whatever worked for you.
i just got back from the store with my chard and cream fraiche!

Jess said...

Gayle - Want to hear another great one? My sister pointed out an abacus to her at the Museum of Science. She heard the "kiss" in aba-"kiss" and blew a kiss into the air. My little punster!

Anonymous - No need to cook the chard. Just wash and dry it well, chop it up, and mix it in, raw. Works like a charm! Enjoy, and please do report back, if you think of it.

thelittleloaf said...

What a beautiful quiche. And I love the fact that your daughter thinks of it as a kiss :-)

talley said...

quiche = kiss! I like the way Mia thinks. That girl of yours is on to something because this quiche sure does look 'kiss the cook' worthy. Looking forward to trying it for brunch or lunch or dinner, yum!

Linda said...

Agree with the commenter above! Too cute! And did you say creamy, custardy, and smooth? I think this quiche has my name written all over it.

racheleats said...

I am very fond of quivering quiche and I think cheese is a distraction. This looks ( and sounds ) lovely.

Jess said...

thelittleloaf - Thank you! I love that, too.

talley - The funny thing is that Mia wants to kiss everyone these days. Probably because she sees how happy it makes people. She does not discriminate.

Linda - Yes, yes, yes, it is indeed all three! I gave two of these quiches to a friend yesterday, and now I'm wishing I had saved a slice for myself.

racheleats - Can always count on you to have your priorities straight, Rachel. "Quivering quiche" - that's what this is, precisely!

Hannah said...

This looks so good Jess! I love greens with eggs ... crème fraîche cannot be a bad addition. Plus - a recipe from Tartine, approved by you, is a guaranteed success ... (also - my 1 year old actually says "kiss" in a way that sounds just like "quiche," or maybe "keesh" - making Mia's kiss-quiche a quiche-quiche here - delicious either way!)

Atanya said...

Hi Jess. I've been reading your blog for quite a while now because I love the way you write and your photographs are so dreamy and beautiful! However, i hadn't tried out a recipe from here until last weekend and i'm sorry I waited for so long! - I made the quiche and it was a huuuuge success! It was the first time i'd made shortcrust pastry, so my heart was in my mouth the entire time but it came out well except that the crust at the bottom wasn't crispy enough (they were fine on the sides). Any idea why this might be? Nonetheless, it was delicious, and I definitely plan to make it again soon! Thank you for sharing the recipe with us!

Jess said...

Hannah - "Keesh!" I love it. Wish we could get those two together. xo.

Atanya - What a sweet note to wake up to this morning! Thank you for your kind words. I'm so glad you liked the quiche, but sorry to hear that the crust gave you trouble.

My thoughts: Is it possible that when you rolled out the dough, the center ended up thicker than the edges? That happens sometimes. I'm also wondering about your oven temperature. Do you keep a thermometer in there? I do, because even brand new ovens can run hot or cold. Finally - and here's where I think the answer may truly lie - what kind of a dish did you bake it in? There's a new book out from Cook's Illustrated called The Science of Good Cooking and it's terrific. (And I say that not only because my dear friend, Molly Birnbaum, wrote it.) On page 381, there's a box with the heading "How to Prevent a Soggy Crust." There's some great science in there about the bottom crust needing to heat rapidly to prevent the filling from soaking into it, but the bottom line is that two things seemed to help: baking in a glass pie plate ("Glass conducts heat poorly but retains and distributes heat very well, so you get more even browning than you do in ceramic or metal...") and placing the plate on a preheated baking sheet in the oven. (The immediate heat against the crust helps to "partially liquefy the solid fat [butter] as quickly as possible so that it can better fill the spaces among the particles of flour, creating a watertight barrier and preventing the juices from soaking in.")

I didn't do the baking sheet thing, but I did use a glass pie dish every time I've made this quiche.

Whew, I bet that's a lot more information than you wanted to know! Good luck with the next round, and if you try one of these things and it works, do report back! I'd be interested to hear if you have different - and better - results.