When you’re rolling out tart dough, it’s good to get the circle out to a diameter at least 1 inch greater than that of your pan; more if you’re making a pie and want to flute the edges.
At this point, you have to make a decision. If the dough is still cool and if it’s liftable and pliable, you can fit it into the tart pan. If the dough feels soft, it’s best to give it a chill. Keep it between the parchment, slide it onto a baking sheet or cutting board and slip it into the freezer or fridge. While you can keep the dough in the fridge overnight or wrap it well and freeze it for a month or two, if you’ve got tart on the menu, you want to chill it only long enough for it to become pliable. Overshoot the mark and you can leave it on the counter until you get the foldability you’re looking for.
Peel away one sheet of the parchment, peel away the other so that the dough doesn’t stick to it and center the dough in the pan (I like to butter my pan lightly). Leave it slack around the spot where the bottom and sides meet – you want to be able to have enough dough to fit into the area without stretching. In fact, you don’t want to stretch the dough anywhere – anything you stretch now, will spring back and shrink in the oven. Fit the dough against the bottom and sides of the pan and then either cut the dough even with the top of the pan or fold a little dough over and press it gently to form a more substantial border.
The dough in the picture happened to be particularly well-behaved. It’s not always this lovely. Often the dough tears or splits – usually when it’s too cold and too firm — and needs to be repaired. If you have thin tears, just wet your finger with cold water and run it over the tear to bring the edges together. If they’re more serious, you can patch them with a piece of trimmed dough; again using water as glue. Just as you don’t want to stretch the dough when you’re fitting it into the pan, you don’t want to stretch it when you’re patching it.
And speaking of patching – if you’ve got a few bits of trimming leftover, hold on to them! You just might need to patch après the pre-bake.
No matter what plans I’ve got for the filling, I usually give the shell a pre-bake. Line the crust with parchment or buttered foil and fill with weights – not heavy ones. I like to use rice and dried beans and barley – you can use them for baking again, but not for eating – because they’re heavy enough to keep the dough from puffing exuberantly, but light enough not to compress the dough and harm its lovely texture. Bake the crust at 400 degrees F (200C) for about 20 minutes, remove the paper and weights and bake 3 to 5 minutes more, just to get a little color. If the crust has puffed, you can prick it once or twice with the point of a knife, or press it down with a pancake turner. Cool the crust before filling and baking.
Here’s what the crust turned out to be: a quiche made with cheese that was in the fridge and the lone tomato that remained in the vegetable basket. Not bad for leftovers.
My quiche recipe follows.
BASIC QUICHE LORRAINE
Adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan
Makes 6 servings
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small onion, peeled, trimmed and finely diced
3 slices cooked bacon, cut crosswise into thick pieces
2 ounces Gruyère, very thinly sliced
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
One 9- to 9 1/2-inch partially baked tart shell, still in its pan
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the tart shell on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Melt the butter in a small skillet over low heat and toss in the onion. Season the onion lightly with salt and pepper and cook slowly until it is very soft, but not at all colored, about 10 minutes; remove from the heat.
Spread the cooked onion with whatever butter remains in the pan evenly over the bottom of the crust. Alternate slices of bacon and cheese over the crust. Beat the cream and eggs together until well blended, season with salt and pepper, and pour this mixture into the tart shell.
Gently slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake the quiche for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the filling is uniformly puffed (the sides will puff first and it will take a while for the middle to follow suit) and browned. Transfer the quiche to a cooling rack and allow it to cool and gather itself for 5 minutes or so. Carefully remove the sides of the pan, if you’ve used a two-piece pan, and slide the quiche onto a platter.
Serving: The quiche can be served hot, warm or at room temperature.
Storing: You can keep the quiche lightly covered on the counter for a few hours if you’re going to serve it at room temperature; if you want to keep it overnight, wrap it well and store it in the refrigerator. It’s best to bring it to room temperature or to warm it briefly in a moderate oven before serving.