Sometimes we win. Sometimes we lose. Sometimes it’s a draw. I will chock this up as a draw, but it was not without frustration.
I was searching for a recipe that would serve as a good mid-week dinner that I could cook myself while my wife watched the baby. I wanted a bit of a challenge, but nothing that was going to turn out horribly if I had a small SNAFU. I also still had a big hunk of bacon left from the pink salt batch that was getting a bit long in the tooth, and I didn’t think it would make it to the weekend without going bad. So I settled on a food I like, but rarely have one I enjoy: a Quiche. Specifically a lovely looking one posted by the great Michael Ruhlman.
Now, he is a CIA trained chef, using a recipe that was in some manner informed by Thomas Keller. I am a novice home cook, with aspirations to making good food, with no training whatsoever. But the recipe looked like it wouldn’t be that hard, and even if it was I can usually fake my way thorough these things, so I decided to give it a go. And, who knows, I may even learn something.
Let me begin the cooking part of this saga with saying that I do not bake. I put things in the oven, sure, but when it comes to mixing precise amounts of ingredients, forming and shaping dough, and putting it into an oven at a prescribed temperature for a specific amount of time. So this recipe challenged that part of my brain, and had me put together a pastry dough from scratch. The dough came together reasonably well, with very little drama, though forgetting to put a healthy amount of lubricating flour on my hands gave me some trouble. Also forgetting to flour a board for turning it out and kneading was a problem, but I have an awesome wife, who luckily had put the little girl down for a second, that came to my rescue. Everything rolled out just fine, and I was ready to make my crust.
Ruhlman uses a ring for his crust. A fricken ring. No bottom whatsoever. Just forms the dough into this ring, bakes it, and it is water (or at least milky egg) tight. I thought that there was no way that would work for me, and i didn’t have one anyway, so i looked for a suitable replacement. So a springform it was. No problem, I thought. I rolled out the dough, and stretched it to where I thought it could go, and then reinforced the sides with the extra dough I had. Looks good.
Into the oven, timer set, on to other things like getting the onions cooking down. A few minutes in, and I decide to peer in through the glass to the crust beautifully baking away. Except, wait, where are the sides going up over the edges of the pan? Where are the edges at all? Uh oh. They had fallen. Slid down the lightly Pammed rim of the springform. Damage control time. (I didn’t get any disaster pics, since I was too busy trying to save it.)
I snatched the pan out of the oven and tried to get the dough to stick back to the sides. No dice, it was going to take more drastic measures. I grabbed a spoon, which was the closest utensil to me, and fished out the greasy pile of dough pooling up on the other greasy pile of dough which made up the bottom. Using butter as your fat for dough, while it tastes fantastic, lends itself to breaking down into a greasy mess before once again congealing into nice flaky pastry. I transferred it back to the board and put some flour on it. And some more flour. And some more. I feel like I doubled the flour content on this piece of dough. I managed to finally get it workable, re-rolled, and then grafted into place to make the sides of the crust. Back in the oven! Crisis averted? What’s that smell?
Oh crap. The onions that were cooking down have now cooked so that they are starting to turn black. And maybe smoking a bit. And sticking pretty fiercely to the bottom of the pot. Onions taste good with caramelization though, right? There were enough that were not charred that it ended up okay, but still frustrating. And I probably owe my wife something for cleaning the pan later that night. The bacon was then cubed, fried, and combined with the onions to make one of the most fragrant and delicious combinations I have put together lately.
Once it came out, it was a flaky crust that I could almost be proud of. I could be if it were not so darn ugly.
It was about this time when I read to the bottom of the recipe for the first time. I sometimes have a problem with that. I am one of those guys that always fell for that stupid test that said to read all the way through and the last question stated to write your name at the top and turn it in with nothing more. The quiche needed to cool, and go in the fridge for 8 hours prior to consumption. So no quiche for dinner this night. Dammit, I guess it will be curry again. But I still needed to finish it, so I mixed up the batter of eggs and cream and milk, and followed the instructions for pouring it in.
Since I am not Ruhlman, my crust is not water, or milk, or egg tight. And since I was using a springform, it all came out the bottom and all over the stove. Dammit again. So I put it into our small cookie sheet for our small oven, and kept on going. It all went in, and through the cooking, a fair bit of it came out as well. Out of the oven an hour later, and cooled and into the fridge to enjoy the next day.
And sure enough, we did enjoy it. It lost a enough of the egg that it was a very dense, meaty and oniony quiche. Not light and fluffy with an emphasis on the custard that I think it was supposed to have.
It was delicious though. And while it frustrated me beyond belief, I learned a ton. Not least the fact that if I suck it up and follow directions I can make a pretty mean crust. Also, springforms are not the ideal vessel for copious amount of messy liquid.