Quiche echoes in time
In my neck of the woods that old adage that real men do not eat quiche still rings true, writes Hennie Fisher
IT IS not that easy to find good quiche anywhere in SA, and it certainly is nothing like France where you are bound to be offered a good slice at any corner eatery. Alan Davidson’s Food Companion says that reluctance to indulge by so-called hemen in this delicious, any time savoury was because quiches traditionally did not feature meat — and as we all know, men must eat meat.
Today’s savoury quiches, history tells us, were preceded by sweet versions that were mostly made with sweet purple quetsch plums or golden mirabelles. From there the fillings developed gradually into ones made with onions, chopped pork or veal and a cream/egg mixture. Quiche Lorraine the most famous of all, dating back to the 16th century.
Aclassic traditional recipe provided by Elizabeth David is made with fried bacon, double cream and an egg/egg yolk mix and seasoning. This is of course a very custardy filling with not much to make it substantial.
South Africans on the other hand have their own version of quiche, and I’m almost sure it would not be possible to translate it, as savoury tart is not really what is meant by “souttert”. I’m not really familiar with its origins or how one would make the real McCoy, but after asking around it seems the filling is mostly made using a white sauce (béchamel) base and not a custard base.
A quiche with a substantial filling, such as the rather large version provided herewith, is suitable for a light meal served with a great salad of contrasting textures/colours and flavoured with a sharp vinaigrette.
Quiche traditionally also was not made with such high sides, and I think aesthetically a quiche should have a scalloped edge. But as an adaption of the Lorraine, this version with melting onions and darkly caramelised butternut cubes would make anyone queue up for more. Onions, cooked slowly and ever so gently with just a touch of browning to the edges offer a rounded umami taste to this or any quiche, while the butternut gives sweetness to the creamy richness of the custard. A soft melting cheese such as Emmenthal, Gouda or just white cheddar mixed into the filling contributes to a depth of flavour.
The texture of the custard is determined, among other aspects, by the egg, cream and temperature at which the quiche is baked. One is aiming for a medium-rich custard with good mouth-feel, fine taste and a good set.
Susan Purdy writes in Cook’s Illustrated that she tested various compositions and found that mixtures with no cream tasted boring, with no creamy mouth-feel. Custard made with half skimmed milk and half cream was not as rich as the mix with half whole milk and half heavy cream. The best custard is made with two whole eggs, two egg yolks, one cup milk and one cup heavy cream. And the ideal temperature to bake the quiche at is 190°C, which is perfect to create custard with a creamy consistency yet hot enough to brown the top. Butternut and Bacon Quiche For the shortcrust pastry: 300g flour, sifted Large pinch of salt 170g butter, ice cold and cut into cubes 1 medium egg 180ml ice-cold water
Rub the butter into the flour/salt mixture by lifting it out of the flour and flaking the butter between your thumb and other fingers to create gentle layers of butter. Aim for something resembling coarse mieliemeal. Beat the egg and water together and mix into the dough. Knead a little and wrap with plastic. Keep in the fridge until completely firm. Filling: 2 large onions, sliced thinly 2 large cloves garlic, sliced thinly 1 packet of rindless bacon, cut into pieces 1 kg butternut, peeled and cubed Olive oil 250g cheese, grated 2 eggs 2 egg yolks 250ml milk 250ml heavy cream Salt, pepper and grated nutmeg to taste
In the meantime make the filling mixture. Toss the butternut cubes in some olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake in a hot oven (200°C) until well browned and cooked. Fry the bacon until crisp and the fat runs out. Remove and fry the onions and garlic until soft but with a slight bit of caramelised browning. Turn the oven down to 190°C. Line a large loosebottomed cake tin with the shortcrust pastry and neaten edges.
Combine the onion/garlic, bacon and butternut and layer into the pastry case in alternating layers with the grated cheese. Mix the milk, cream and eggs together, season generously and pour into the case. Place on a baking tray and bake for at least an hour until the pastry is nicely browned and the custard set. Let cool for a bit before serving.