There’s no dispute about the characteristics of an ideal quiche: It must have a tender, buttery pastry encasing a velvety-smooth custard that’s silken on the tongue—neither too rich nor too lean. But no wonder quiche has a less-than-desirable reputation: a soggy crust or wet filling can downgrade this dish from appealing to downright unappetizing. Fortunately, in our quest to develop the best quiche recipes, we’ve fine-tuned the quiche-making process.
We’ve found that the best way to maintain the crust’s crispness is to prebake it using pie weights. The weights—or dried beans, if you need a kitchen staple substitute—keep the dough flush against the pie plate so it doesn’t shrink up as it bakes, and gives the crust a crusty wall that the filling won’t penetrate. As for avoiding the wet filling and gauging doneness, it’s a matter of watching the oven—not the clock. Removing the quiche when it’s still soft, and then allowing it to set (the internal heat will continue to cook the filling) is the only way to avoid a slicing disaster. The cooler the quiche, the more neatly it will slice.
STEP #1 Partially Bake the Crust: There is only one way to keep a quiche crust from turning soggy, and that is to parbake it before adding the quiche custard. To prevent the crust from shrinking as it parbakes, we use pie weights; a sheet of foil makes it easy to remove the weights when the crust is done.
STEP #2 Whisk the Custard Together: Making the custard is as easy as whisking the ingredients together. The trick is to get the ingredients well combined with no streaks of egg.
STEP #3 Add the Other Ingredients: Once the custard is thoroughly mixed, you can stir in all sorts of ingredients for flavor, such as cheese, herbs, and vegetables. If using vegetables, it’s important to rid them of excess moisture either by sautéing them first (as with onions), or simply wringing them out (as with frozen spinach); if you don’t, you’ll ruin the creamy texture of the custard.
STEP #4. Use a Measuring Cup and Don’t Overfill: To prevent the quiche from bubbling over the edges of the crust, it is important to fill the custard just until it reaches about ½ inch from the top; you might not use all of the custard. Also, since it can be tricky to transfer a full quiche to the oven without spilling the custard, it’s best to transfer the custard to a liquid measuring container and pour the custard into the shell after placing the pie plate on a baking sheet in the oven.
STEP #5 Pull It from the Oven Still Soft: Pull the quiche out of the oven before it is completely set, as it will continue to cook and set as it cools. When the quiche is done, the center of it will jiggle loosely, but a knife inserted about 1 inch from the edge will come out clean. If you overbake the quiche it will taste dry and grainy.
STEP #6 Let the Filling Set: It’s important to let the filling set up before slicing into it, or you’ll have a mess on your hands. Depending on how hot your kitchen is, this could take an hour or more.