Quiches are a delicious savoury tart with incredible versatility that holds up with almost anything your fridge or larder has to offer. Think of it along the lines of a frittata with pastry and you’ll begin to understand the length of possibilities in terms of fillings. The recipe for this one uses a classic combination of bacon and mushrooms with the flavour amped by some fresh thyme leaves. However, feel free to go Mediterranean with some crumbled feta, sundried tomatoes, and basil or spinach. Or indeed some roasted peppers, torn ham, and caramelised onions. I am also going to attempt to debunk the myth about pastry that has seemingly perpetuated the mindset of home cooks. I won’t condescend with a sort of head tilt superiority and pretend like the first time I made pastry it was perfect, it wasn’t but also nor was it a disaster either. Indeed far from it but over time, with a little practice and know how you’ll wonder why you haven’t tried it before, especially shortcrust. This pastry is essentially a combination of flour, fat (in most cases butter) and bound (brought together) with a little bit of liquid (anything from water to egg).
this to happen all that you need is simply patience, a little time, and a whole
lot of cold. For the pastry it is essential that the butter is very cold, I
would even recommend leaving it in the freezer for some time before adding it
to the other ingredients. From here you can grate it from frozen which makes
the whole process even easier, especially if you don’t have a food mixer or
processer. In fact, in terms of crisp, crumbly pastry, as mentioned above cold
is an essential component needed to make good shortcrust pastry. Make space in
your freezer for your tart tin before you begin this recipe. Another technique
used here is that of “blind baking”. This is where you bake the pastry case on
its own first before adding a wet filling so as to avoid the now wildly known
coined term of “soggy bottom”. To help with this task, you need to cover the
pastry in greaseproof paper and baking beans. Make a cartouche (a circle of
baking paper) and crumple it up in your hands, and follow by unfolding the
paper back out again. You’ll notice that the greaseproof has become much more
pliable and useable. Repeat this action another few times. This allows that
when placed over the uncooked pastry, and the baking beans added, the paper
will mould easily into every corner of the pastry, giving an even bake.
250g plain flour
125g cold or frozen butter diced or
Handful grated parmesan
6 tbsp cold water
3 large eggs
half tub (150g/ml) crème fraiche
125g hard cheese, such as gruyere and
150g bacon lardons/pancetta
300g punnet mushrooms
few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves
removed from tougher stalks and chopped
2 spring onions sliced
In a large bowl add the flour and the butter and rub together with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Alternatively mix together with the paddle attachment of your food mixer. Stir through the parmesan cheese before adding the water and bringing the pastry together into a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least 15-20 minutes.
When chilled lightly dust your work surface with plain flour. Remove the clingfilm and roll out the pastry into a round shape until it’s a couple of centimetres larger than your loose-bottomed fluted tart tin. Roll the pastry over your rolling pin, pick it up and gently lay into the tin. Gently push the pastry into all corners of the tin, using a small piece of leftover pastry rolled into a ball to help you. Roll the rolling pin over the top of the tin to cleanly remove any excess pastry. Prick with a fork and place in the freezer (or fridge if you don’t have freezer space) for 20 minutes until chilled. Preheat the oven to 180°C Fan/200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6
While the pastry is chilling put the bacon lardons/pancetta into a cold pan and place on a high heat. Cook until crisp, drain over a seize collecting the bacon fat in a bowl. Add a teaspoon of the bacon fat back into the frying pan, place back on a high heat and add the mushrooms. Sauté for about 5 minutes until cooked, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Remove the pastry from the freezer, line with baking paper and add baking beans. Bake for 20 minutes, remove the paper and beans before placing back in the oven for another 5 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and lower the heat to 170°C Fan/190°C/350°F/Gas Mark 5
For the filling beat the eggs together before adding the crème fraiche and milk, whisking together until fully incorporated. Add a teaspoon of the reserved bacon fat for flavour but this is optional. Stir in the cheese and season lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Spread the bacon and mushrooms evenly around the base of the pastry case before scattering over the spring onion and thyme. Gently pour in the egg, crème fraiche and cheese mixture. Bake for about 25 minutes until set. Let cool slightly in the tart tin before removing. Serve warm or cold with a salad for a lunch or light supper.