Quiche Lorraine is a lesson in the power of simplicity and the importance of texture in great food. Restrained yet exuberantly luxe at the same time, (how do the French do it?) you can’t beat this classic quiche made with Gruyere cheese and bacon.
Quiche Lorraine is the grand-mama of all quiches
And so the quiche Lorraine has a lot to teach us about this classic French dish that has become so popular here in the States since the 1850s. Originally a one crust pie filled with a custard made from eggs, cream, and lardons (slab bacon) from the Lorraine region of France, tucked right up along the border with Germany. In fact Germany has its own version of the recipe: speckkuchen
What’s the difference between a quiche Lorraine and a regular quiche?
Quiche Lorraine is a traditional French/German recipe made with cream, milk and eggs, along with:
- gruyere cheese
- onion or shallot
- bacon or lardons
Typical quiche recipes include all sorts of add-ins like broccoli, ham, etc., as well as a variety of different cheeses.
what makes a quiche Lorraine special?
I wondered that as I prepared to test this dish. On the surface it seems like an unusually simple, possibly even bland quiche, especially when compared with so many loaded examples we see on menus today. But making this recipe is a lesson in the power of simplicity and the importance of texture in great food.
This recipe is made with equal parts heavy cream and milk, making the filling quite rich. If you’re used to an all milk quiche, this one will dazzle you.
Bacon and shallots are the only add-ins. Bacon adds an intense smokey, buttery flavor, and shallots have just the most elegant onion flavor ever.
Gruyere cheese (along with a little Parmesan) are aged cheeses that give the custard a distinctively Mediterranean flavor.
A sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg is a subtle touch that takes this quiche over the top. If you don’t have fresh nutmeg, use this recipe as your excuse to get some, you’ll never look back.
The precise proportions of milk, cream, eggs, and cheese create a soft custard-like filling that is really lovely. Check out the photos above and below. You can see that melting texture (think of the difference between American and French scrambled eggs.)
tips for making quiche Lorraine
Normally making quiche is pretty laissez faire; the proportions are loose and the ingredients can vary widely ~ in other words, there’s plenty of room for creativity. But for this classic recipe, we’re sticking to the script.
- Blind bake (or pre-bake) your crust on a high heat for 10 minutes. This will help insure that you won’t get a ‘soggy bottom’. An alternative method that works nicely if you don’t want to pre-bake is to preheat a baking pan in the oven, and when you’re ready to bake, put the quiche on the pan, pour in the filling, and bake. The extra boost of heat helps bake the bottom of the crust faster.
- Follow the amounts and proportions of milk and cream to eggs and cheese as this will give you the desired consistency in the baked pie.
- A deep dish pie plate and crust is needed for this recipe.
- Take the extra time to make a shortcrust pastry crust, I make it in my food processor in a matter of seconds and the tender flaky crust really sets off the quiche in the best way.
- Restrain yourself. I know you’re tempted to throw all sorts of extras into your quiche, but try it this way first. Next time, if you want to load it up with fridge leftovers, you have my blessing 🙂
- Bake the quiche just long enough so the sides are set and the center is still slightly wobbly. The center will puff up at the end of baking, indicating that it is done. The top will get quite browned.
- Let the quiche cool before slicing to allow the center to set up. The filling is a delicate custard and it is looser than standard American quiche fillings. A little cooling time helps it come together.
How to blind bake a pie crust
In case blind baking is new to to you, here’s the basics:
- Arrange your pie dough in your pie plate and crimp the edges.
- lay down a sheet of parchment paper or foil over the crust and fill with dried beans, rice, or special pie weights.
- Partially or completely bake the crust as per your recipe.
- Remove the crust from the oven and lift off the sheet of paper or foil, and remove the weights.
what to serve with quiche
Quiche is one of the most versatile recipes out there because it’s appropriate for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. I think it works best with a salad or soup on the side, here are some suggestions:
- chopped asparagus salad
- edamame salad
- apple, fennel, and salmi salad
- chopped Italian salad
- Persian cucumber and tomato salad
- shrimp bisque
- iced cucumber soup
- 9 inch deep dish pie plate
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 10 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp cold water
- 6 slices bacon, cooked until crisp
- 1 shallot, peeled and minced
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
to make the crust
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Add the flour, butter, and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until there are no large chunks of butter remaining (small pieces are fine)
- Slowly add the cold water, continuing to pulse, until the dough comes together.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a circle large enough to fit into your pie plate with a little bit hanging over the sides. Gently place the dough into your pie plate.
- Trim off any excess dough, and pinch the top all the way around.
- Place a piece of parchment paper at the bottom of the pie plate, over the pie crust, and fill with dried beans, rice, or pie weights. Blind bake for 10 minutes, and set the crust aside while you prepare the quiche filling. Remove the beans or pie weights.
to make the filling
- Turn down the oven to 375F
- Blend together the cream, milk, and eggs. Whisk gently, you're not looking to beat in air. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Set aside.
- Crumble the bacon and scatter it over the bottom of the blind baked crust, along with the shallots.
- Combine the two cheeses and sprinkle evenly over the bacon and shallots.
- Set the pie plate on a baking sheet and pour the custard mixture into the crust. You will likley fill your crust completely. Don't overflow your crust, but fill it to the top.
- Carefully slide your baking sheet into the oven and bake for about 50 minutes. The quiche will be golden on top, and set around the sides. It may still wobble a bit in the center, that's ok. Note: this timing is assuming your oven is accurate and you used a deep dish 9 inch pie plate. Any variations will alter the baking time.
- Let the quiche cool down before slicing. This will allow the filling to set up.
- Expect the texture of this quiche to be silky like a loose custard, especially in the center. It will be softer than typical American quiches.
- Don't let the homemade crust scare you away from this recipe. By all means use a readymade refrigerated or frozen crust for convenience.
- You can substitute half and half for the milk and cream mixture.
- To make the quiche ahead, bake and let cool completely. Then wrap in plastic and refrigerated until needed. It will last a couple of days.
- To freeze the quiche, bake and let cool completely. Wrap in plastic, and then in foil. It's best when eaten within a couple of months.
- To thaw and reheat: put the quiche in the refrigerator overnight. To re-warm, put in a low 325F oven until heated through. This might take 30 minutes or so.