Monday, September 29, 2008

I will remember

I decided to try a new recipe and learned a very valuable lesson. Don't mess with pie crust. Just don't. Growing up, my mom was the baker in my family. While my dad was master of the grill, oven, stovetop, and fluffernutter sandwich, my mom was queen of cakes, cookies, and pie. But my mom never made her own pie crust. She told me she could never be bothered, it was too much trouble and not worth the effort. So I never had a tried and true recipe past down to me.

Last year around this time I decided to try my hand at my own pie crust. It was my first one ever. I used Alton Brown's method and it came out perfectly. Light, buttery, flakey, flavorful, and most importantly - insanely easy. I couldn't understand what my mom was complaining about or why she never made it herself. I continued using this easy delicious recipe all this past year.

And then I decided I should try Williams Sonoma's recipe. I mean I love that store and in general their recipes are pretty good. I've been making quiche a lot lately because it doesn't take long and gives us breakfast on the run. So I tried Williams Sonoma's Quiche Lorraine. It looked simple and pretty (which are two requirements for me for cooking). I figured I'd go whole hog and make their crust recipe too. Big mistake. Huge. The dough just wouldn't come together, it became a crumbly mess. And it wouldn't form nicely in the pan. As I cursed my experimental nature I understood my mother's frustration. After working the dough over I was finally able to make a semblance of a pie crust. And then came more disappointment - it wasn't very tasty. Normally the crust is my favorite part and for this quiche I left the entire crust. It just was tasteless and dry. Boo.

So the moral of this story? Pie crust can be very good or very bad. If you find a very good recipe - stick with it.

Quiche Lorraine (from Williams Sonoma)

For the pastry:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into
    small cubes
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. ice water

For the filling:

  • 6 lean bacon slices
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste


  1. To make the pastry, in a bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work the ingredients together quickly until crumbly and the mixture resembles oatmeal. Then, while quickly stirring and tossing with a fork, add the ice water a little at a time just until the dough begins to hold together. Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 425ºF.
  3. On a lightly floured work surface, using your hands, flatten the ball of dough into a disk. Dust it with flour and roll out into an 11-inch round. Fit carefully into a 9 or 10-inch tart pan, or a 9-inch glass pie dish. If using a tart pan, trim the dough even with the pan rim. If using a pie dish, trim the dough to allow a 1-inch overhang, then fold under the overhang and flute the edges. Prick the dough in several places with fork tines and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  4. Partially bake the pastry shell until it just begins to color, 10 to 12 minutes. If the pastry puffs up during baking, prick again with a fork to release the steam. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 375ºF.
  5. To make the filling, in a fry pan over medium-high heat, fry the bacon until crisp and golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. When cool enough to handle, crumble into small bits. Scatter the crumbled bacon over the bottom of the pastry shell.
  6. In a bowl, combine the cream, milk, eggs and melted butter. Using a whisk or fork, beat until well blended. Stir in the cheese and season with salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Pour into the prepared pastry shell and sprinkle the top lightly with nutmeg.
  7. Bake until the custard is set and the tip of a knife inserted into the center of the custard comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for several minutes before serving.

Serves 6 to 8.
Each Serving has:
Calories 381.7
Total Fat 30.0 g
Cholesterol 164.6 mg
Sodium 312.7 mg
Potassium 136.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 17.0 g
Protein 11.2 g


  1. I agree completely. Check out my post tomorrow.

  2. You are SOOO right! I found a recipe from Kraft. I think it was called the easiest pie crust ever or something, and it was. And it always turned out great...then dummy me decided to experiment. Big Mistake!

  3. I love quiche but making my own pastry scares me. It always turns out just as you described...a crumbly mess. I sometimes make a food processor recipe. I am told that people with hands that are too warm can't make pastry...I am sticking to that..wink:D

  4. how weird you made this today when rachel ray (i know i know) made mac n cheese lorraine on 30 minute meals today.

    it actually looked extremely appetizing as does your quiche. i will have to try BOTH - yum!

  5. Pie crusts are a pain. I agree, if you find one that works keep it! The quiche does sound yummy though!

  6. Hee. Too much trouble for me :)

  7. Yup stick with what you know, always. I have done like you and thought "well I'll give this recipe a try" BLECH! I always go back to the tried and true! Alton has great stuff. I was never impressed with William and Sonoma cookbooks, gave them all away.

  8. I've been on a crazy quiche kick too, but my favorite crust is the Martha Stewart one. The AB version sounds good, but now I'm afraid to switch! :) Off to go make a ham and cheese quiche now!

  9. Hmm, I will have to check out AB's recipe then. I have never found a recipe that wowed me with its ease and results.

  10. Oh, it's so frustrating when a new recipe doesn't work. I'll have to give Alton's recipe a try--he has yet to steer me wrong.

  11. Pie crust is extremely intimidating. I'll try it once but if I fail I may never try it again.

  12. the teen and i share a ridiculous love for fluffernutter sandwiches. i love that you mentioned them in this post!

    sad for your pie crust, though.

  13. oh, i'll have to give alton brown's recipe a go. i <3 him so much!