A menu staple in pubs, snack bars and restaurants, the delightful quiche has so quickly been adopted into our lives and language that many of us have probably forgotten its roots are in France. The original quiche is a regional dish from Nancy in Lorraine – Quiche Lorraine, traditionally served on May Day to celebrate the arrival of spring. To be a true Quiche Lorraine, the filling must be diced bacon which is baked in savoury custard made with cream, eggs and a little seasoning - no additional onion or cheese!

What constitutes a good quiche is a matter of personal taste, but it is always interesting to trace the roots of a recipe. Quiche is a French word, which as I mentioned earlier, was quickly adopted into the English language. It is comparable to a savoury tart or flan. Its base is usually made from shortcrust pastry, though recent years have seen an increasing use of puff or flaky pastry. My preference is for shortcrust which gives a crisp, short, sturdy shell to hold its filling.


Quiche Lorraine is always prepared with shortcrust pastry which must be blind baked before the filling is added. This semi-baking ensures a properly cooked pastry without any filling seeping into it. To blind bake pastry is easy so long as simple rules are followed and I would recommend doing so for any custard based (or runny) binders.


Always handle pastry as little as possible and ensure that all the ingredients are cold. After lining the quiche / tart / flan dish, allow it to rest for about 30 minutes before baking to help prevent shrinkage.There is much debate about which type of dish to use - decorative ceramic quiche / tart / flan dishes or metal. I prefer the latter. If choosing a ceramic option, place it on a metal backing sheet as it goes into the oven which helps raise the temperature of the base thus baking the pastry to perfection. Note: if using a metal dish, pop the pastry into the fridge to chill whilst it rests but not ceramic as it will crack in the hot oven.


A plain, short pastry, shortcrust is the most widely used pastry of all and easily made either by hand or using a food processor.


The proportion of flour to fat is 2:1; ½ fat to flour. Flour is plain (all purpose) which means that it doesn’t contain any chemical raising agent. Do experiment with different flours such as wholemeal or rye, which add a delightfully nutty flavour. Fat may be either block margarine, butter or a mixture of half lard or white fat to either margarine or butter; and a rich shortcrust is bound together with egg rather than water.


Roll out the pastry and line the quiche dish, pricking the base all over with a fork to allow any trapped air to escape. Scrunch up a sheet of kitchen parchment and lay it followed by special ceramic baking beans, dried beans, pasta or rice on the pastry. Allow to rest for at least 30 minutes then pop into a preheated oven of 180C for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and paper and return the pastry shell to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Quiche Lorraine
25cm quiche, 8 slices

  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g cold butter, cubed
  • 1 egg

    Filling
  • 300g lardons (diced bacon)
  • 300ml cream
  • 3 eggs
  • freshly milled black pepper
  • nutmeg



1. Place the flour and butter into the goblet of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg pulse again then if necessary ice cold water, a tablespoon at a time to bring the mixture together.

2. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, lightly knead then roll out to line a 25cm quiche / tart / flan dish. Prick the base with a fork and allow to rest for 30 minutes or longer.

Preheat the oven to 180C and blind bake the pastry shell.

3. Meanwhile, gently sauté the lardons in a non-stick frying pan until they are just beginning to brown. Remove and drain on absorbent kitchen paper.

4. Scatter the lardons over the semi-cooked shell. Beat the eggs with the cream and season with black pepper and pour over the lardons. Sprinkle with grated nutmeg and bake for 30 minutes or until the filling is set. Serve warm.

Bacon, Onion and Cheese Tart

25cm tart, 8 slices

  • 100g wholemeal flour
  • 100g rye flour
  • 100g cold butter, cubed
  • 1 egg

Filling

  • 100g lardons (diced bacon)
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 250ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • handful of grated cheese such as Cheddar or Emmental



1. Place the flours and butter into the goblet of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles beadcrumbs. Add the egg, pulse again then if necessary ice cold water, a tablespoon at a time to bring the mixture together.

2. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, lightly knead then roll out to line a 25cm quiche / tart / flan dish. Prick the base with a fork and allow to rest for 30 minutes or longer.

Preheat the oven to 180C and blind bake the pastry shell.

3. Meanwhile, gently sauté the lardons in a non-stick frying pan until they are just beginning to brow. Remove, drain on absorbent kitchen paper and add the onion to the pan to gently sauté to soft in the fat from the bacon. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper.

4. Scatter the lardons and onion over the semi-cooked shell. Beat the eggs with the milk and season with black pepper. Pour over the filling and sprinkle over a handful of grated cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top has browned a little and the filling has set. Serve warm or cold.

Two similar recipes separated only by name and tradition.