I was inspired to learn how to make quiches by those I tasted at Sally Clarke’s deli in Kensington. A classic quiche, from Lorraine, is a pastry case containing a custard of eggs and cream, with added onion, bacon and cheese. (I have made the cheese optional here, as the cream filling is very rich.) Once you have mastered the basic custard recipe, you can ring the changes by using fish and different vegetables: smoked haddock would be good, perhaps with some onion and red pepper; fried, sliced mushrooms are also a tasty addition. For a portable feast or picnic, wrap the cold quiche in clingfilm, preferably still in its tin, and transport like that. Cut into wedges when you are at your destination. If you don’t want to make your own shortcrust pastry, use 275g ready-made.
2 tbsp olive oil 2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped 450g bacon pieces or ready-chopped pancetta 100g Gruyère cheese, grated (optional) salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE SHORTCRUST PASTRY (OR USE 275G READY-MADE) 180g plain flour, plus a little extra for dusting 90g cold butter, chopped 3-4 tbsp iced water (just add ice to a small glass of water)
FOR THE CUSTARD 2 large eggs, plus 1 medium egg yolk 300ml double cream freshly grated nutmeg
● First make the pastry. Put the flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor and whiz until the mixture looks like fine sand. Add the iced water and pulse until the mixture starts to form a dough. Tip into a bowl and very quickly knead it with your hands until it comes together and looks smooth. Flatten into a disc and wrap in clingfilm. Chill in the freezer for 10 minutes. Don’t forget it or it will harden into an unrollable slab! ● Dust a clean work surface with a little flour and roll out the pastry quickly and evenly. Use it to line a 23cm x 4cm loose-bottomed fluted tart tin. Trim the edges, then prick the base all over. Place in the freezer for about 20 minutes, until firm. ● Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C/ fan 180C/gas 6. ● Line the pastry case with baking parchment and baking beans, place it on a baking sheet and blind-bake for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and beans, and return the pastry case to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes, until the base feels and looks dry. Turn off the oven and remove the tin, leaving the pastry case on the baking sheet. ● To make the filling, heat the oil in a medium pan, then stir in the onions and a good pinch of salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Take a sheet of baking parchment, scrunch it up and wet it well. Open it out slightly and place on top of the onions. Cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat down to very low. Cook for about 25 minutes, until the onions have softened. Check them every 8-10 minutes and give them a stir, replacing the parchment and lid every time. If they start to brown and look as if they’ll burn, add a good splash of water. They need to be really soft once they’re done: if you don’t cook them for long enough, they’ll be hard and crunchy when you bite into the quiche, plus there’s a chance they’ll curdle the cream. Leave to cool. ● Meanwhile, cook the bacon pieces or pancetta in a large frying pan until golden and just starting to crisp. (If your pan is not big enough, you’ll need to do this in two batches.) Extra oil shouldn’t be necessary, but add a drizzle if you think it is. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Leave to cool. Preheat the oven to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2. ● Spoon the onion into the base of the pastry case and spread it out. Do the same with the bacon, spreading the bits evenly over the top. Whisk together the eggs, egg yolk and double cream in a jug, then season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Carefully pour this mixture into the pastry case. If using the grated cheese, mix it into the jug of eggs or sprinkle it over the filled quiche. ● Return to the oven, still on the baking sheet, and bake for around 40 minutes, rotating the tin halfway through so it cooks evenly. The top should have just a slight wobble. Serve warm or cold. ➤