Quiche, that culinary darling of the 1970s, suddenly seems to be appearing on menus everywhere.
At Empire Coffee + Pastry in northeast Minneapolis, quiche — truly impressive quiche, it must be said — has been a top seller since sisters Amy and Chrissy Kelsch opened for business in December.
And why not? “It’s a classic,” said Amy Kelsch, the shop’s baker. “I’m always surprised by the wide range of people who get really excited about it. You know, young dudes who walk in and say, ‘Wow, you have quiche.’”
What the restaurant industry might not want the world to know is that this open-faced custard pie is a snap to prepare, even for novice bakers. Here’s Amy Kelsch’s quick tutorial:
Step away from the pie crust
For quiche, Kelsch prefers an eggy, tart-like crust. “An all-butter pie crust with a quiche custard is really, really rich,” she said. “This dough is crumblier — which is great for quiche — and I like the lemon in it.” Another bonus, for the rolling-pin wary: “It’s not as fragile as pie crust; it’s much sturdier,” she said. “So rolling it out is easier.”
Forget about using those rolling pin handles. “You get so much more force — and so much more control — if you push from the middle of the pin” when rolling, Kelsch said. To prevent cracking, place the roller in the center of the dough and move the roller outward, rather than rolling from edge to edge across the length of the dough. With every roll, turn the dough a quarter-turn.
Smooth it out
After mixing the custard, Kelsch enlists a mesh strainer. “I really push the custard through,” she said. “It doesn’t take any time, and it makes the custard super-smooth. I’m paranoid about chunks of egg in custard.”
Fill it up
Most quiche ingredients should be precooked: sautéed onions, blanched kale, steamed broccoli, fried bacon, roast chicken. The trick is to select ingredients that will add big flavors but not a lot of moisture. At Empire, recent combinations have included leek-feta-lemon zest, butternut squash-Parmesan-caramelized onion, bacon-chèvre-leek and ham-Gruyère-leek. “Quiche is incredibly flexible,” said Kelsch. “We use whatever is on hand, and whatever is in season.”
For the vast majority of the quiche community, grated or crumbled cheese is an essential quiche filling. Basics include Cheddar, provolone, Monterey Jack and Swiss. The classic quiche Lorraine contains bacon but no cheese.
Quiche works at breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner, served warm or at room temperature, and it’s definitely a friend of the time-crunched. Un-rolled dough can be refrigerated overnight; remove it from the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes before rolling. It will keep in the freezer for a month; let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and remove it for 10 to 15 minutes before rolling. The rolled-out dough can also be par-baked in advance and frozen for up to a month; thaw to room temperature before adding the custard. Once the custard is baked, a quiche can be refrigerated up to 24 hours.
Warm it up
Kelsch rolled her eyes at the mention of a microwave oven. “No, absolutely not,” she said with a laugh. “Microwaves have their place, but they turn anything with a crust instantly soggy and rubbery.” Instead, allow the refrigerated quiche to come to room temperature (about 15 minutes), then bake in a 350-degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes. “It’s a perfect make-ahead dish,” she said. “You just pop that guy in the oven and you’re ready to go.”
A ONE-WOMAN BAKED-GOODS EMPIRE
For those unfamiliar with Empire, Amy Kelsch’s work is a real find. After eight years of baking around Chicago — from a Michelin two-star restaurant to a neighborhood French bakery — the Twin Cities native returned to Minnesota last year to create an outlet for her plain-spoken, bursting-with-deliciousness baked goods, both savory and sweet: a modest selection of turnovers, scones, biscuits, coffee cakes, pies, sticky buns, cookies, Danish and a nothing-short-of-glorious a.m. muffin brimming with bacon, green onions and Cheddar. Quiche, too.
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 egg yolk
• 2 cups flour
• 3 tablespoons water
• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 2 eggs
• 2 egg yolks
• 3/4 cup heavy cream
• 3/4 cup whole milk
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• Freshly ground pepper to taste
• About 2 cups grated or crumbled cheese, herbs, cooked vegetables and/or cooked meats
To prepare dough:
1.In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and salt. Add egg yolk and mix until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour, water and lemon juice and mix until just combined. Shape dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough (1/8-inch thick) to a 12-inch round. Transfer dough to a deep 9-inch pie pan. Fold over excess dough to create an edge; trim excess dough and crimp edge. Line pan with parchment paper, fill with pie weights and bake 30 minutes.
3. Remove from oven, remove pie weights and parchment paper and prick bottom of pastry with a fork. Return pan to oven and bake until crust is lightly and evenly brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
4. To prepare custard: In a large bowl, whisk eggs and egg yolks to break them up. Add cream, milk, salt and pepper and whisk well. Pour mixture through a mesh strainer to eliminate lumps.
To prepare quiche:
1. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the baked tart crust on a baking sheet. Arrange cheese, vegetables, meat or other filling ingredients in an even layer over the baked crust. Pour egg mixture over fillings.
2. Bake until custard is slightly puffed, golden brown and feels firm when patted in the center, about 45 to 60 minutes. If quiche begins to get too brown, cover with aluminum foil. Remove from oven to a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature.
From Amy Kelsch of Empire Coffee + Pastry of Minneapolis.