Quick Quiche

Ideal for novice pastry makers

I love quiche. Any quiche: classic quiche Lorraine (strictly speaking, filled with cream, eggs and bacon only) or the more familiar version with cheese added (which should really be called a savoury flan or tart, but we all know what we mean when we say quiche). Or cheese without bacon. Or with smoked salmon. Or vegetables. Whatever, I love most of them although I’m not over-keen on tomato in quiche. I love a nice slice from a large quiche, or a whole individual one, or 3 or 4 mini ones. I love them warm. I love them cold. I just love them full stop!

Mini quiches are always popular for parties and picnics, and a nice treat for lunch boxes. They can be a bit of a faff to make though, so here’s a quick way to ‘knock up’ a dozen cheese and onion ones.

Basically, you are going to stir up the filling in a cup, and instead of softening an onion first, you are adding one or two sliced spring onions. There will be no need to bake the cases blind first, they are so small the filling and cases can cook together.

Of course you can use ready-made shortcrust, but the beauty of a home baked quiche is the crisp buttery freshly made pastry. And it’s so quick and simple to make in a food processor. So here we go with a few extra tips in case you need them.

Makes 12

For the Pastry

  • 100g plain flour
  • 50g cold salted butter, diced
  • 1½ tablespoons cold water

For the Filling

  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons double cream
  • Pinch of mustard powder
  • Black or white pepper to taste
  • 1-2 trimmed spring onions, including tender green leaves, thinly sliced
  • Around 25g grated cheese (mature Cheddar works well)

You will need a 12 cup tart tin, lightly greased with butter, and a 7cm cutter

Preheat oven to 180C (fan oven) gas mark 6 or equivalent

1. Whiz flour and butter together into fine crumbs.

If you can sit your processor bowl on your weighing scales, it’s even quicker and less faff.

2. Add water and whiz until the mixture starts clumping together.

You need to add exactly 1½ tablespoons with this amount of fat and flour. Use a cook’s measuring spoon. Mine came with my bread machine: very handy with a teaspoon one end, a tablespoon the other and halves and quarters marked inside both.

3. Tip mixture out of machine onto your pastry board or mat. Add no flour at this stage.

A piece of baking or greaseproof paper makes a handy temporary pastry board and cuts down on washing up!

4. Bring the clumps together with your hands and form into a smooth ball (see both pictures, right).This will make lovely light melt in the mouth pastry, with a nice ‘short’ texture. If you whiz it all the way in the machine until it forms a ball, the pastry will be tough and heavy (no picture).

5. Now flour the board lightly, dust a little on top of the pastry and on your rolling pin.

If you flour it before, incidentally, extra flour gets into the pastry and it will start breaking apart. You

’d lose the short texture too.

6. Roll out to a depth of ½ cm or a fraction less. Cut out 12 circles in all: you’ll need to re-roll for the last 3 or 4.

Make sure you cut out the circles as close to each other as possible to minimise re-rolling. Re-rolling or ‘over-working’ the pastry will also make it tough.

7. Transfer the circles to the greased tart tin. Firm them in place very gently.

8. Using a dinner fork, whisk the egg in a cup with the mustard and pepper. Whisk in cream and stir in onions.

9. Spoon filling into cases: the measuring spoon works well for this as it’s deep rather than shallow and acts like a mini ladle.

10. Scatter tops with grated cheese and bake for around 15 minutes until puffed and golden.

It’s best to grate the cheese in short up and down movements to avoid long strands which are awkward to fit in the tarts, or just cut any long shreds roughly cross-wise with a knife.

These are fabulous warm but still great cold. You can easily double the amount of ingredients to make 24, but you’ll have to make the filling in a larger container.

And of course, you can vary the fillings. Add diced ham (no need to pre-cook as with bacon), add some other vegetables, smoked salmon, or try a different cheese – or no cheese at all, there are no end of possibilities.

Two Rolling Pin Styles and Correct Use of Plain and Fluted Cutters

You may have noticed, my quiches were mainly cut out with a plain cutter but I did slip in 4 fluted ones. Fluted cutters always look so pretty but are meant to be for sweet tarts, scones and biscuits only: plain cutters are used for savoury items.

This rule (or guideline) must have originated as a useful way to tell tarts apart, in the baker’s shop or country house kitchen, if the fillings weren’t immediately obvious. I remember when I first realised this years ago. I was visiting a country show with my mum and we went to into the baking exhibits tent. One poor soul had got a serious slating for using a fluted cutter for her savoury tarts and I’ve never forgotten it!

Here’s my new rolling pin, pictured top, with my old one underneath. I bought it a couple of weeks ago (£3 from Waitrose). I’ve had my other one for years and years and love it but have been hankering after a plain cylinder one just like my Nana used to have for a while. I was finally prompted by the rolling pin guide rings I found in my Christmas stocking as they don’t fit very easily on my old one.

I can see now why my Nana swore by hers (She even used it to mash her potatoes by pummelling them with one end). It’s much easier to use than my old handled one (you find yourself suddenly using a more professional rolling action) and you can roll over a wider area, ‘crafted from a single piece of FSC-certified European beech’ it said on the label and it feels lovely.

I still love my old one though; it’s been with me a long time and looks as good as new. It’s made from Douglas Fir: something I identified by the grain years ago, but I’ve have only just discovered it’s an ‘artisan shaker’ style. You live and learn!