Flavours of France: Quiche Lorraine
Food writer Mary Cadogan explains the history behind this delicious savoury treat and gives a recipe for Quiche Lorraine
Quiche Lorraine originated in the 16th century in the kingdom of Lothringen, which was then part of Germany. When the area later became French, its name changed to Lorraine – the word ‘quiche’ is a derivation of the German word ‘kuchen’ (‘cake’). Quiche Lorraine started its life as a simple winter dish that could be cheaply made from readily available ingredients. It was an open tart made with bread dough and filled with a custard made from eggs and cream, along with smoked bacon or lardons; all ingredients which would have been to hand in every farm and village. The basis of the tart evolved to use shortcrust or puff pastry, while grated cheese is a fairly modern addition. If onions are added too, then it becomes a quiche Alsacienne.
Quiche Lorraine is a recipe that has stood the test of time, and is an important part of Lorraine’s culinary heritage, as well as being appreciated worldwide as a dish that is simple to make and satisfying to eat at any time of the day. It can be served as a snack, starter or as part of a simple lunch or buffet table. In France, of course, a good quiche Lorraine can be bought from any reputable traiteur – I have wonderful memories of buying freshly made quiche while on holiday in France to eat as part of a sunny picnic lunch. Originally it would have been a fairly rich dish, made with cream or crème fraîche, but these days some or all of the cream is often replaced by milk to suit lighter contemporary tastes. My recipe uses a half-and-half mix of cream and milk. Don’t be tempted to use all milk, as I think you will find it does not give the right creamy texture to the dish. Gruyère or Emmental is the usual cheese of choice, but I hope I will be forgiven for adding a little Parmesan, which I find enhances the cheesy flavour beautifully – let your own taste guide your preferences.
Quiche Lorraine recipe
I have made small quiches here, but if you want to make a bigger one, the same ingredients can be used for a 23cm flan tin. However, you will need to increase the baking time by about 10 minutes.
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For the pastry
? 250g plain flour
? 125g butter, cubed
? 2-3 tbsp cold water
For the filling
? 100g smoked lardons or smoked streaky bacon
? A little olive oil
? 3 eggs
? 150ml single cream
? 150ml milk
? 100g grated Gruyère
? 3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
1 Heat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas 6. Tip the flour into the food processor and add the butter. Process to make fine crumbs, then add the water and mix to a firm dough. Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Divide into six equal pieces and roll out each to line a 10-11cm individual tart tin. Chill for 20 minutes.
2 Line each tin with a round of baking paper and ceramic baking beans on top of the pastry, and then set on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the baking paper and ceramic baking beans and cook for five more minutes.
3 Reduce the oven temperature to 190°C/fan 170°C/Gas 5. Fry the lardons or bacon with a little oil until crisp. Drain on kitchen paper.
4 Lightly whisk the eggs, then whisk in the cream and milk. Season lightly with salt (as the cheese and bacon will be salty) and generously with pepper, then stir in three quarters of the cheese. Pour into the pastry cases and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake for 20-25 mins until puffed and golden. Serve warm or at room temperature. Chilling the quiche will greatly reduce the flavour so avoid that if you can.