julia child, mastering the art of french cooking, julie powell, french cuisine

Rolling in the Dough


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“As you can probably tell by reading this blog, I do not have the hands for pastry.  And yet here I am, kneading pate brisee on an August evening in an un-air-conditioned apartment in Brooklyn.  I’m doing it as quickly and adeptly as I can.  We’ll see.” – Julie Powell


Last night, I had a small group chorus rehearsal that didn’t get me home until about 8:30. When I walked in the door, Ben was watching the Cowboys game and doing some work, and for just a moment I considered heating up Saturday’s spaghetti leftovers. However, I’d already eaten that for lunch and, while it was really tasty, I couldn’t bring myself to eat it three meals in a row. So I decided to make an easy dinner: Quiche Lorraine (cream and bacon quiche).

I’ve never really made a pastry recipe from scratch before. I always use frozen pie crusts, or pre-made dough. So this was a new experience. I thought it would be really tricky, but it wasn’t! This recipe begins by making Pate Brisee (pastry dough). I mixed flour, sugar, salt, butter and shortening in a big bowl by hand, rubbing everything together between my fingers until the butter and shortening had broken up into small flakes. I added some ice water and stirred the mixture with my hand, and it gradually turned from a watery paste to a solidified dough.

Ball o' dough

I rolled the dough into a ball and put it onto a floured mat, then dusted it with flour and used the heel of my hand to press the dough out. This helped mix up the rest of the butter, and then I rolled all the dough back up into a ball again and wrapped it in wax paper. This is where I realized I was supposed to let it sit in the fridge for 1-2 hours (oops) so I put it in the freezer while I worked on the rest of the recipe.

I cut several strips of bacon into small pieces and simmered them on the stove for about 5 minutes, then drained them, dried them and browned them in a skillet. Next, I mixed eggs and cream with some salt, pepper and nutmeg in a big mixing bowl – this would be the filling of the quiche.

Uncooked pie shell

At this point, about a half-hour had passed, so I took the dough out of the freezer and rolled it out into a big circle, then set it into a springform pan. I worked it down into the pan, then trimmed off the excess dough around the edges (Julia suggested a neat trick: roll your rolling pin over the top of the pan so that it cuts the dough just at the edges. Worked perfectly!). I used a fork to poke little ventilation holes in the bottom of the shell, and used the handle of the fork to make pretty little lines in the edge of the crust. Then, to help the dough keep its shape as it bakes, Julia says to put buttered foil down into the pan over the dough and fill it with beans – unfortunately, as it turned out, I didn’t have any beans, so I just used the foil. This recipe calls for a partially cooked shell, so I baked it in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes.

When I took the dough out of the oven and removed the foil, I could see why Julia said to fill it with beans. The center of the bottom was puffing up, and the edges had begun to slide down into the pan. Oops again. Oh, well! So it wouldn’t look pretty…I bet it would taste great! I pressed the bacon pieces I had browned into the bottom of the shell, then poured in the egg and cream mixture. I put the pan back in the oven for another 30 minutes and used that time to clean up after myself (yes, I’m actually beginning to master the art of time management in the kitchen! Exciting!).

Pouring in the eggs & cream

I removed the quiche from the oven, and I could see one place where the bottom of the shell was bubbling up and baking kind of weird, but other than that it looked pretty good! The top was beginning to turn a golden color and the edges of the crust looked nice and brown. I unlatched the springform pan and removed the sides from the bottom, then slid the quiche onto a serving platter. I cut a triangle piece and set it onto a plate for Ben, and I could tell from the profile that a.) the shell hadn’t completely cooked all the way through (just goes to show you can’t rush these things) and b.) the insides were cooked, but still a little jiggly. Maybe I didn’t leave it in the oven long enough? Julie Powell mentioned the same thing in her blog about this recipe, so maybe that’s just how it’s supposed to be. Maybe that’s the “Lorraine” part of Quiche Lorraine, and if so, who am I to judge a jiggly Lorraine?

Tasted better than it looks. But hey, we're not trying to win any beauty pageants here.

Despite a few little glitches here and there, I thought the overall dish was pretty good! The egg and cream was super light and fluffy (albeit slightly undercooked), and the pie shell wasn’t too dense or dry. Everything was well-seasoned, and the bacon added a nice bit of crunch to the otherwise soft insides. Now that I’ve got one quiche under my belt (so to speak), I imagine the next one will turn out even better. I have a better understanding of how to go about making the fraisage, and next time will be able to better identify the consistency of a “done” quiche. With the exception of the amount of time one is supposed to leave the raw dough in the fridge before baking the pie shell, this recipe doesn’t take long to make at all. I would highly recommend making the pastry dough a day in advance – the rest of the steps just take a few minutes to put together. Even though this would obviously make an ideal breakfast, it was a great dinner – especially when we wanted something relatively quick and easy.


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2 Responses to “Rolling in the Dough”

  1. Mary says:

    Just a hint. Get a package of pinto beans that you use only for blind baking(that is what it is called when you bake a crust without a filling). Once they have been in the oven–don’t try to cook them–it won’t work. Just put them in a bag or something and keep them for the next time–you can use the same ones over and over and over

  2. Mom says:

    Look out, La Madeleine – Jessie’s in the kitchen!

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