Homemade Crust: There’s No Taste Like Home

January 8, 2011

Hey, fellow chefs! It’s me, Alfredo.

So, naturally, I’ve had a quiche or two in my fifteen years. Probably one or two delicious Quiche Lorraines (with store-bought crust, of course). But I’ve also eaten more than my fair share of those mini quiches from the frozen section. I’m sure you’ve all tried some at various parties, picnics, or any other function where guests bring an appetizer. They’ve always been one of my favorites.

Once I learned we were making a quiche in cooking elective, I immediately thought of my limited (though delightful) experience with quiches. I assumed we would just jump right into making the filling. Much to my surprise, Ms. Ruble laid out the ingredients–mis en place–for the crust. That’s right. Homemade crust. For any of you experienced chefs out there, this probably seems as normal to you as brushing your teeth in the morning. But, being the inexperienced cook that I am, I was shocked when Ms. Ruble didn’t pull a pre-made crust from the freezer.

I quickly realized that making our own crust meant that this would be the most delicious quiche I had ever tasted (and it was, by the way). After watching Ms. Ruble demonstrate, I realized that we all had our work cut out for us. Luckily, though, I had Piña Colada and Oreo to help me out!

After making sure that the shortening/flour/salt mixture was the texture of coarse sand, Oreo, Piña Colada and I added the butter into the food processor. I have to say that pulsing the butter into the dough is my absolute favorite part. There’s something empowering about hearing that loud rhythm and knowing that it will eventually create a delicious, buttery goodness. It just so happened that, as I was vigorously pulsing, Kathleen Purvis, the Food Editor for the Charlotte Observer, walked in! Much to my mortification, the butter would not reduce to the size of peas. Although I probably added a total of seven extra pulses, it seemed like one hundred. Hopefully Ms. Purvis didn’t feel too assaulted by my racket as she entered the school’s kitchen for the first time. Who knows? Maybe she thought it was quite professional.

Pulsing!

 

 

After adding the ice water and mixing the dough to just the right consistency, Piña Colada, Oreo and I took turns rolling out the crust.  After suggestions from Ms. Ruble perfected our rolling techniques, the dough was ready for the transfer to the dish. The three of us exchanged nervous glances and began. Thankfully, it turned out wonderfully, and it even had some curb appeal thanks to Oreo’s spectacular edge-crimping.

Oreo crimping!

The boys roll it out.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the finished product, and I now eagerly await an opportunity to show off my newly acquired skills to my store-bought-crust-loving family.

Here’s the recipe if you want to try it out:

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup cold lard (non-hydrogenated if available)*

1/2 cup cold butter, chopped

4 tablespoons ice cold water

1 egg and 1 teaspoon heavy cream for egg wash

*you can substitute vegetable shortening for the lard (which we did!)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. To make the crust, pulse flour and salt together to combine (in food processor). Add scoops of lard (the lard and butter should be in the fridge until this point) and pulse until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Add in chunks of butter and pulse until butter pieces are no larger than small peas, about 10 pulses (it took my group about 17 pulses). Add minimum amount of ice water and pulse on low. If dough remains crumbly and doesn’t come together, add another tablespoon of ice water. Add as little water as is required to enable the dough to be rolled into a ball. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes (although we put ours in the freezer).

After removing the dough from the refrigerator, roll the disk out (we did this between sheets of parchment paper with a little flour, but you can also use the counter and flour) until it is two inches larger than your pie plate all around. Then transfer it carefully, centering it in the plate. Fold the excess dough around the edges and crimp, trimming where necessary. The trimmed parts can supplement at the parts where the dough isn’t as plentiful.

-Alfredo

 

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