Saturday, August 23, 2008

In search of a better quiche crust - part four

In previous installments of this series (I didn't think of giving it a title until now so just click on 'quiche' in the tag list if you want to know more) I first disparaged the idea of a crust on a quiche as it's always soggy on the bottom and dried out on the edges and while my crustless quiche was tasty, something was missing; then I took up Sara Moulton's idea of a savory cracker-crumb crust but didn't care for the aggressive flavor of the crackers or the enormous amounts of butter required; next I lined the bottom of the pan with bread crumbs. They melded into the bottom of the quiche instead of forming a proper crust, but they showed potential.

In considering my next attempt, I gave the standard quiche recipe some thought. Most recipes layer the bottom of the crust with shredded cheese before adding the rest of the fillings. I suppose the idea is to form a fatty layer insulating the pastry crust from soaking up the liquid in the quiche, but I've never seen it actually work. For my crumb crust, what would happen if I mixed the cheese in and then blind baked it?

Only one way to find out. I used generous amounts of bread crumbs--a mixture of panko and homemade-- added just one tablespoon of melted butter and mixed in the 3/4 cup of Emmentaler Swiss cheese I was going to use in the quiche anyway.

After 10 minutes at 350 degrees, the crust looked like this:

Pretty promising, although I should have broken up the long strands of cheese to get more even distribution. But the proof is whether it will retain its integrity after the quiche is cooked.

My recipe this time was four eggs mixed with 1/2 cup cream and 3/4 cup milk along with another quarter cup of liquid from my fillings.

Those fillings are a couple handfuls of large shrimp, quickly blanched to just barely cook through (since they'll be spending another half hour in the oven); a bunch of chives from my garden, a giganto clove of garlic, one large scallion and maybe two cups of baby spinach. All the vegetables got a sauté in olive oil and butter and a bit of a wilt with a splash of sauvignon blanc (he says as if he has more than one bottle of white wine in the house at any particular time).

The fillings go on top of the cooled crust and are topped with a grating of Parmigiano Reggiano,

then the egg mixture, and in to the over for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

Resulting in this:

After letting it cool off for ten minutes, I cut a piece. Here's the bottom:

Looks pretty good. As for the texture...let's take a bite...well, I wasn't expecting that. Somehow I've managed to turn the breadcrumbs back into bread. It's like the quiche is sitting on a light fluffy slice of white bread. Weird. There are some chewy bits where there was an unusual concentration of cheese, too. I can't say that it's bad, but it's not what I was aiming at.

As for the quiche itself, I went a bit light on the salt, but it has a nice light texture, a tasty blend of herbal flavors and a good balance of flavors with the shrimp. Not too shabby.

I'll have to give the crust some more thought, though.

If you'd like another interesting crust option take a look at Kat's polenta crust here.

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