Freddie asked this question, "When I try to make a quiche, the bottom of my crust (pastry) never seems to cook properly. How do I get the perfect pastry case?" Let's dive in to learn how to avoid a soggy bottom or a soggy crust when you're making a quiche. Plus, how to fix common quiche problems like a rubbery texture.
Freddie, you're not alone. A soggy bottom crust is one of the most common reasons that people struggle with baking pies, not only quiche lorraine. I still feel terrified at making homemade pie crusts because it's seems challenging to make a flaky pie crust that's perfectly golden and doesn't crumble into pieces.
While baking and pie making are art forms, I've learned a few tricks on how to handle the pâte brisée to ensure the greatest chance of success. While it's still possible to fail, with practice and an experienced eye, I believe you can achieve Freddie's goal of making the "perfect pastry case". Let's dive in to learn how I did it.
The quick summary (you can get the details in the recipe below) of how to achieve a flaky golden pie crust is:
- Pay attention to making the pâte brisée correctly: If it's too dry, your pie crust may crumble. Note the texture if you're unsure. If it's too wet, you'll end up with a pasty crust that has trouble becoming flaky. The solution is to add liquid one spoonful at a time. If you live in a humid area, you'd unlikely to need all the liquid called for in the pâte brisée recipe.
- Remove extra moisture from the filling ingredients: Thoroughly cook any vegetables you add to the filling to avoid moisture that will destroy your bottom crust.
- Blind bake your crust: Baking your pie crust without the filling is the surest way to ensure a flaky golden crust.
- Apply an egg wash to the blind-baked pie crust: You can brush a layer of egg white over the pie crust about 10 minutes before it is done blind baking. This should seal any extra imperfections in your pâte brisée (it's easy to tear it when rolling out) that could lead to a leak.
- Apply a foil shield: Once your pie crust is cooked (thanks to blind baking), you'll need to bake the quiche for at least 20 minutes to fully cook the custard. This can lead to burning the edge of the pie crust, which would be an utter disappointment. The solution is a foil tent to protect the edges. This works well for fruit pies but I found the middle of the quiche lorraine didn't get golden brown with a foil tent. I ended up with a foil stripe layout (the lazy alternative to a foil ring), which worked well.
(If you were ever curious, as I was, why the foil shield works, my father-in-law, David, explained it acts like a mirror to reflect the heat/radiation away from the crust to prevent it from getting too brown. It's the same concept behind why silver foil keeps parts of spacecraft cool.)
How to fix quiche problems
Go with a crustless quiche: Skip the quiche dough and bake it directly in a buttered pan or line the pan with parchment paper for easy cleanup.
Make sure the ingredients are dry: If you're adding vegetables, make sure raw veggies are cooked thoroughly. Mushroom and spinach are popular quiche fillings that release a lot of liquid when cooked. Fry mushrooms and blanch spinach to ensure there is not extra liquid released.
Problems with the quiche filling texture
If the filling is too wet and breaking apart: Add 1/2 cup less dairy and experiment with the ratio between eggs and cream.
If you’re adding vegetables: Sauté them thoroughly and make sure they are as dry as possible to avoid additional moisture in your filling.
If the filling is too rubbery: Did you overcook it? It could also be the egg-dairy ratio. Try removing an egg.
If the filling is too dry and the texture looks spongy: Take the quiche out of the oven before it’s overcooked. Test it 10 minutes earlier. Maybe your oven temperature is miscalibrated or you live in a drier climate.