21 August 2011


Earlier this evening I made a simple Gruyere quiche.  It was delicious.  You, too, can make such a quiche.  (I used Julia Child's recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  My paraphrase of the recipe follows.  It serves six and can be refrigerated.)

You will need:
  • An 8- or 9-inch spring-form pan (you can find these anywhere that sells cooking supplies, maybe even your grocery store.  I bought mine for $15 at the local hardware store.)
  • 2-4 oz Gruyere cheese (The cheese by itself costs almost as much as the other ingredients combined, but it's worth it.)
  • 2 cups of flour (All purpose is good, but bread flour works fine. Certainly no flour with any rising agents pre-added.)
  • 2 sticks of chilled butter (or at least 1.5 sticks... the last half stick is just to have around for greasing pans.  Stick the butter and shortening in the freezer before you start getting other stuff out.  The colder it is, the better.  If your butter gets too soft while you're working the dough, its a huge pain.)
  • 1/4 cup of chilled shortening (i.e., 4 Tablespoons)
  • 1/2 cup of iced water (no more, and don't have ice cubes in it when you use it)
  • 2 cups of whole milk or half&half
  • 3 eggs
  • salt
  • a little nutmeg
  • a little ground pepper
  • a little sugar
  • a rolling pin (which can be made in a tight spot from an old broomstick...  not that I've done this.)


1.  Mix 2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon sugar in a bowl.  Take your 1.5 sticks of butter and cut them into thin slices.  Be quick and don't overhandle the butter or it will get warm and soft.  Add the butter to your flour mixture, with the 4 Tablespoons of shortening.

2.  With the tips of your fingers, quickly toss the bits of butter and shortening around so they're all coated, and start pinching them apart until they're all divided into little oatmeal sized bits.  Now, add the iced water (no ice cubes!) to the bowl, and with one hand mix it together into a ball quickly.  While you're doing this, keep the fingers pressed together.  It makes it easier.  you may need to press and pick up the dry bits in the bowl to get them worked into the wet mass, but eventually everything should be incorporated just fine.  If it's sticky, flour the outside of the ball.

3.  This part is a little harder.  Dust a clean surface lightly with a little flour.  Take the dough a little bit at a time and with the heel of your hand  push it down away from the ball down onto the surface, to make a smear.  As in this video, except your dough won't be as crumbly as his.  Once you've done this for all the dough (be quick! that butter's getting soft and melty!), gather all the dough back into a ball and knead it once or twice so it's fairly smooth.  Then dust with flour, wrap it in wax paper or plastic wrap, and put it in your freezer.  It should stay there for an hour at least, or several weeks if you want to make the crust dough long in advance.

4.  After the allotted time, remove the dough from the freezer, put it on a floured surface, and bang it with your rolling pin just until it becomes a kind of disk.  Flour the top of the dough, and start rolling it out into a circle about 2 inches bigger than your springform pan on all sides (i.e. with a diameter 4 inches bigger).  You do this by rolling it out a little in one direction, then rotating the dough a quarter turn, rolling it again (always pushing away, always gently, but working quickly), etc. until it's the right size.  It should be 1/8 inch thick.  If the dough gets sticky, flour it again.  If the rolling produces an uneven shape, cut off a piece where it's too big, rub a little cold water onto the edge of the place where it's too small, and press the two together.  This'll take some finagling.  The rolling pin helps, just be careful.  Work quickly and don't over-handle the dough.  Don't be paranoid, though.

5.  Preheat your oven to 400°F.  Butter the inside of your spring-form pan (this probably isn't necessary, given the insane amoung of butter in the crust, but Ms. Child says to do it).  When you're ready, roll the dough onto the rolling pin (her dough is bigger than yours should be), so you can lift it off your surface and drape it into your pan.  Gently fit the dough into the spring-form pan, press it down to the bottom and onto the sides, and smooth it out.  You want it to come up to the top of the pan, and can even make a little lip over the edge if you have extra dough.  If you want to do froofy stuff with a fork or whatever, do it.  What you must do, however, is use the fork to stab  the bottom of the crust a ton of times, and pray that this keeps it from rising.

6.  Take some aluminum foil and line the inside of the dough with it, so you can pour rice or dry beans inside.   Fill it up.  Stick the whole thing in the oven for 8-9 minutes until the dough is totally set (you'll see a lot of fizzy foamy action with the butter around the edge and definitely be able to see that the crust is cooking).  Take it out, remove the rice/beans and the foil, return it to the oven for 3 minutes, or until the crust is just showing the signs of browning (you don't want it brown, you want to catch it just when it's turning).  If your crust starts ballooning in the middle, take it out briefly, and use a sharp knife to poke a small hole that will allow it to deflate.  Then return it to oven until it just starts to hint at browning (as indicated above).  Take it out, and change oven temp to 375°F.


Beat 3 eggs in a large bowl.  Mix in the 2 cups of milk or cream.  Then mix in your 2-4 oz of coarsely grated Gruyere (this should be up to 1 cup grated.  be generous!).  Add 1/2 tsp salt, a pinch of pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.  (Nutmeg, incidentally, is what makes alfredo sauce good.  Not that that's relevant.)  Stir it all quite well until it's mixed up.  Then pour it into your crust.  Take half a tablespoon of butter, chop it up into tiny pieces and sprinkle them on top of the filling.  Then put it in the oven for 25-30 minutes on the middle rack.  Watch it at the beginning and if you see the top browning too soon, just lay a slightly crinkled piece of foil over the top, so the thing can still breathe but is shielded from the upper heating element in your oven.  Once it has totally set (after about 25-minutes) remove the foil.  You'll know the quiche is done when it has puffed up on top and browned, and a knife stuck through the center comes out clean.  Put the quiche on a cooling rack and remove the cylindrical portion of the pan.  Allow it to cool for 10 minutes or so before cutting into it (mostly because you'll burn yourself).  It can be served immediately, or refrigerated.  Enjoy!