Quiche: And Now for the Crust
The key to a crust with good texture is to work it as little as possible, which is why I find the food processor such a godsend for pastrymaking. The method for making crust in a processor is pretty much the same no matter the recipe: whirr the dry ingredients together, drop in the pieces of cold, cold butter (or butter and shortening) and pulse until you get a mix that looks coarse and uneven. It’s good to have pea-size pieces of dough and flake-size pieces, too. If your butter is frozen, you might have to pulse – or even straight process – for longer to get it to break up. When you’ve got a mealy mix in the bowl, stir the egg and water together (you might have a recipe that uses only water) and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses — about 10 seconds each — until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this clumpy stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change: Heads up — stop the machine before the dough forms a ball.
Of course you can make the dough by hand using your fingers or a pastry blender to work the butter and a fork to toss the dough with the egg.
If you’ve made the dough in a processor and if you’ve used very cold or frozen butter, you might be able to roll the dough out immediately. If not, give it a chill. Chilling and resting the dough allows it to relax and helps keep it from shrinking during baking. On the other hand, if you want to press the crust into the pan, doing it as soon as it’s made is the way to go.
No matter whether you roll or press the dough into the pan, it’s a good idea to give the pan a quick rub with butter. And, speaking of pans, someone asked me where you can get a fluted tart pan with a removable bottom like the one I used for my vegetable quiche: you can find them at amazon.
I’m a big believer in the pre-bake — I think it’s the best way to have a fighting chance in the non-soggy crust department. And I always chill or freeze my crust after I get it into the pan, another ploy to keep it from shrinking. To pre-bake the crust, lightly press a piece of buttered foil against the base of the crust and over the sides and fill the crust with rice or beans — not pie weights, I think they’re too heavy. (Actually, if my crust is frozen, I don’t use weights of any kind.) Put the crust on a lined baking sheet and bake it for about 20 minutes. Carefully lift off the foil, prick the crust in a bunch of places with the tip of a knife or the tines of a fork and put it in the oven to bake for about 10 minutes, or until it’s lightly golden.
Now, here’s a neat trick for keeping your crusts crisp: As soon as the crust comes out of the oven, lightly beat an egg white with a fork and brush the white over the inside of the crust. The white may craze and crackle and that’s fine, it will still provide a kind of waterproof lining between the crust and the quiche filling.
Hope this helps. Let me know.