Quiche is always in style.
Outside of France, quiche may have had its heyday in the 1960s and ’70s (along with other retro fare like ambrosia and fondue). But to me — and many others — quiche is always in style. What’s not to love about the combination of tender butter crust and fluffy, eggy filling folded with cheese and savory ingredients like vegetables and bacon? This vegetarian leek and goat cheese tart is my current favorite.
How to Make an Outstanding Tart Shell for the Quiche Filling
A great quiche begins with a great crust. There are several important notes to making an excellent tart shell for the quiche: 1) get the butter right, 2) chill the dough, 3) dock it, 4) use pie weights.
First, the technique of adding the butter differs from a pie dough. I like my pie dough super flaky. To achieve this, I only make my pie dough by hand, working the butter into the flour just until it resembles large peas. The larger pieces of butter create lots of steam, which in turn creates flakes.
A tart shell for quiche is different. Here, I want the butter to be more finely crumbled into the flour. This better coats the flour and keeps the finished crust from becoming soggy. If you have a food processor, I give you permission to make your tart dough in it. But not pie dough.
Second, you 100% must chill the dough. But here’s a shortcut. Some recipes call for something like this: Roll the dough flat, chill, then roll again, shape the dough into the tart shell, chill again, bake. Unnecessary.
Save yourself a step and roll the dough to 1/8″ thick, drape and shape it into the tart shell, chill, bake. In other words, skip that first roll and chill and go directly to the “second” chill. As long as you chill your dough for at least two hours, it will be just fine.
Why Do We Chill the Tart Dough?
Chilling the dough allows the gluten to fully relax. Gluten is an elastic protein found in flour and some other grains. Working the dough makes those elastic strands tighten. If you bake dough that has not rested, it will shrink. Fully-rested dough will stay right in place.
Another important tip: Dock the pie dough with a fork before baking. This allows small amounts of steam to escape from the bottom, preventing air bubbles. If an air bubble forms, you can always pierce it while still hot or baking.
Finally, you will pre-bake the pie shell using pie weights. This helps keep the shape of the tart shell, and gets the crust nice and crisp.
The Leek and Goat Cheese Tart Filling
Quiche is endlessly adaptable. Here, I am using simple leeks and goat cheese, a lovely combination of two mild, yet equally tasty flavors that pair perfectly. But you could always substitute other vegetables or other cheese as you like. The custard makes a good generic base.
Cook the leeks over medium heat, along with the water still clinging to the leeks. You want them to be fully cooked through and soft, but not brown. Leeks will brown easily, so keep the heat gentle, stir often, and add a little splash of water to the pan if you start to get a hot spot.
I like a soft, fresh goat cheese. Aged goat cheeses, such as those with a rind, tend to taste too strong and rich, and overpower the flavor of the leeks.
You may not use all of the quiche custard base, depending on the depth of your tart pan or pie pan. Just fill it up enough, leaving a little less than 1/4″ of space at the top.
The leek and goat cheese tart is finished when a knife comes clean from the center, and the top looks dry and set. Cool to room temperature before eating. You can also make it in advance, refrigerate, and rewarm at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until gently warmed through. This is best at room temperature or slightly warm.
You’ll also enjoy: French Ham and Cheese Galettes and Apple, Sage and Gruyère Scones
Leek and Goat Cheese Tart
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup cold water, or as necessary
For the Quiche Filling and to Finish
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 pound leeks, white and light green parts, chopped fine
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a little more to sprinkle
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 3 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 tablespoon minced chives (optional)
- fresh-cracked black pepper
For the Tart Dough
- Using a food processor or your fingers, work the butter into the flour and salt until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is well distributed. Add up to 1/4 cup cold water, working the dough just until it forms a loose, shaggy ball.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly-floured surface. Gather the dough into a round, then use your palm to flatten the dough into a round. Lightly dust the top with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to 1/8" thick, lightly flouring the top and bottom as necessary to prevent sticking. Drape the pie dough over a 9" tart pan or deep-dish pie shell.
- Gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the tart shell. Dock the bottom all over with the tines of a fork. Trim excess dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and chill for 2 to 24 hours.PRO TIP: The best way to trim the excess dough from the tart shell? Run the rolling pin right across the top.
For the Quiche Filling and to Finish
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the tart shell from the fridge. Unwrap and bake for 20 minutes lined with pie weights. Remove the weights, and bake for 15 minutes more, until lightly golden brown. PRO TIP: Pie weights help prevent the tart shell from slumping or losing its shape while baking. For pie weights, just lay some parchment in the tart shell and fill it with a pound of dried beans. This is what we did in pastry school, too. There is no need to buy special pie weights.
- While the tart shell bakes, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and cook, stirring often, until soft and cooked through, about 7 or 8 minutes. If the leeks begin to brown, add a splash of water or lower the heat.PRO TIP: To cut and clean leeks, cut off the root stumps, then slice each leek lengthwise into two long halves. Place each half face-down and slice into thin half moons. Rinse very well in cold water.
- Whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, and remaining salt.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Pour half the egg and cream mixture into the tart shell. Scatter the leeks and goat cheese all around, then top off with more of the liquid until it is filled almost, but not quite, to the brim. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and some fresh black pepper. You may not need all of the egg and cream mixture depending on the depth of your pie pan.
- Bake until the top looks dry and set and a knife comes clean from the center, somewhere in the range of 40 to 45 minutes, give or take.
- Cool to warm room temperature. Serve, garnished with fresh minced chives.