This quiche is good, really good. And not just for breakfast -- I'd happily have this with a salad for lunch or dinner. The crust is buttery, sandy, and crumbly, and the freshness of the tomatoes nicely contrasts with the creamy filling, even after being baked. I haven't had quiche in so long, I was imagining a big omelet in crust. But this is a smooth, savory custard. The amount of ham and cheese isn't over the top, and despite the richness of the dish it feels light on your stomach. I wanted to photograph individual slices too, but there weren't any left!
The recipe for the filling looked very rich, so I subbed the heavy cream with more half and half. Still not exactly healthy, I know, but I was afraid it might not set up if I used just milk. I also correctly guessed there would be more filling than a standard tart pan would hold, so I opted for an 8-inch springform pan instead, making it narrower but taller. If you do the same, just note that this will add 30 minutes to the cooking time.
Update: This post made the daily Foodbuzz Top 9!
Country Ham, Cheddar, and Tomato Quiche
From Joanne Chang's Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe
Makes one 9-inch quiche (serves 6 to 8)
Pate Brisee II (follows)
6 egg yolks
3 tbs unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup (240 grams) heavy cream
1 cup (240 grams) half-and-half
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
4 ounces (114 grams) smoked country ham, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 ounces (86 grams) sharp Cheddar cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 ripe tomato, cored and chopped
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a well-floured work surface, roll out the dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter and ⅛ inch thick. Roll the dough circle around the pin and then unfurl it on top of a 9-inch aluminum pie pan or glass pie dish. Press the dough gently into the bottom and sides of the pan. Evenly pleat the overhanging dough with your fingers to create a decorative edge, or use scissors to trim the overhang, leaving a ¼-inch lip (to allow for shrinkage in the oven). Refrigerate the quiche shell for at least 30 minutes. (The shell can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 2 weeks. Bake directly from the refrigerator or freezer.)
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350°. Line the shell with parchment paper, fill with pie weights, and blind bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the entire shell is light brown all the way through. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and flour until well mixed. Whisk in the heavy cream and half-and-half, and season with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
When the shell is ready, remove from the oven and scatter the ham pieces evenly over the bottom. Scatter the cheese evenly on top of the ham, and then the tomato evenly on top of the cheese. Slowly pour the custard base into the shell, being careful not to dislodge the ham, cheese, and tomato.
Bake for 1 hour, or until the custard is set. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes, then serve warm or at room temperature.
The quiche can be tightly covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in a 350° oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until warmed through, before serving.
Pâte Brisée II
Makes about 10 ounces dough, enough for (ahem) one 9-inch single-crust pie, 10-inch crostata or 9-inch quiche.
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ cup plus 1 tbs (1 stick plus 1 tbs) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons cold milk
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer), mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Scatter the butter over the top and mix on low speed for about 45 seconds, or until the flour is no longer bright white and holds together when you clump it and pecan-size lumps of butter are visible throughout.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and milk until blended. Add to the flour-butter mixture all at once. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the dough barely comes together. It will look really shaggy and more like a mess than a dough.
Dump the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and gather it together into a tight mound. Using your palm and starting on one side of the mound, smear the dough bit by bit, starting at the top of the mound and then sliding your palm down the side and along the work surface (at Flour we call this "going down the mountain") until most of the butter chunks are smeared into the dough and the dough comes together. Do this once or twice on each part of the dough, moving through the mound until the whole mess has been smeared into a cohesive dough with streaks of butter.
Gather up the dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and press down to flatten into a disk about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.