After the crowning broad bean horror of Charles the ill’s recent circus, it’s time to rehabilitate the quiche from the gastronomic hell into which it has been plunged by meddling chefs.
The original quiche is from Lorraine, the debatable land where France meets Germany, with a tough people who don’t take prisoners. Properly made it is a dish for the gods. And this is how you make it.
Note that any additions to the plain recipe spoil it: even cheese, often included, tends to make it heavy and soggy, and any introduced vegetables bring disaster. Stick to the pure unsullied genuine Quiche Lorraine and you will not go wrong. And please note that the list of ingredients is a wimp’s nightmare of richness — a sure sign that you are on the right track.
This recipe makes a round quiche 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter, enough for four as part of a light lunch or for two hungry people. You will need a metal flan dish in that size, either non-stick or thinly greased with butter. The shortcrust pastry has to be prepared at least two hours in advance so that it can be left to rest awhile before being rolled out.
Pastry should be made in the coldest possible conditions. Use butter straight from the refrigerator. In hot weather you might pre-chill the mixing bowl and the water. If you have hot little hands you might rub in the butter with two forks, but this is inefficient and laborious.
For the pastry you will need:
- 4 oz (or 120 g) of plain flour
- a good pinch of salt
- 2 oz (or 60g) of cold butter
- 1 egg
- water as required
Sieve the flour into a bowl to remove lumps and add salt. Cut the butter into little bits and rub it into the flour with your fingers till you get an even crumbly mixture. Break in the egg and mix it in quickly with your hands. Add two to four tablespoons of water, a little at a time, until you get a dough that is smooth but still dry enough not to stick to the bowl,
Roll this into a ball, wrap it in greaseproof paper or put it into a small container with a lid, and stick it into the refrigerator for at least two hours.
For the filling:
- 6 rashers of smoked streaky dry cure bacon
- yolks of 3 eggs, plus 1 whole egg
- 10 fl oz (280 ml) double cream
- freshly ground black pepper
- a little salt (don’t overdo this, the bacon is already salty)
It’s essential to use good quality dry cure bacon. Cheap bacon exudes moisture and will ruin your dish. English smoked streaky is very like the bacon of Lorraine.
Preheat the oven to gas 6 (400 °F, 200 °C).
Slice the bacon rashers crosswise into strips. In Lorraine these are about an inch (25 mm) wide and eating them can cause a Milliband moment, so you may prefer a finer cut. Fry the pieces briefly for a minute or so till they change colour and produce a bit of liquid fat.
Beat the egg yolks and whole egg together thoroughly until the mixture is absolutely smooth. Add a generous grind of pepper and a cautious amount of salt. Add the cream and stir well to blend it in.
Roll the pastry out into a circle at least 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter and press this into the flan dish. Spread the bacon over it. Pour on the egg and cream mixture. Put the dish into the oven.
Let it bake for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to gas 4 (350 °F, 175 °C) for another 10 minutes.
The quiche filling should have fluffed up and be a delicate golden brown. Take it out of the oven and leave it a couple of minutes to set and cool to a temperature that won’t give you third degree burns when you fall on it. I think you’ll consider it worth the labour.
Quiche Lorraine is also good cold as a dish for picnics or summer lunches.
© Tachybaptus 2023