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Help with Quiche - Why Do My Quiches Always Taste More Like Souffles?

Before Atkins went into bankruptcy, they used to sell by mail the most perfect crustless frozen quiche. I believe the only ingredients were eggs, cheese and heavy cream and it had the most perfect dense texture.

I have experimented with several quiche recipes at home and I cannot recreate the texture. My quiches always come out tasting more like fluffy scrambled egg souffles. Tonight I baked a quiche that cost a fortune due to the expensive cream and the expensive gruyere. What a disappointment - it tasted much like scrambled eggs, which would have been considerably less trouble to make.

What am I doing wrong?

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  1. Hard to say without more detail on your method. If, for some reason, you are separating your egg whites from your yolks, then combining, then I expect you would get a souffle result.

    My method is well-tested and we like it a lot. It doesn't taste too eggy or scrambled or souffle-y. It's a pretty good quiche. If you do try this recipe or any of the techniques, pl;ease do post again and let us know how it went (good results or not.)

    Best of luck!

    My Quiche. (Salmon and Asparagus)

    Pastry:

    1 cup flour (you might need about an 1/8th of a cup more...)
    90 g butter
    1 egg yolk (see filling)
    approx 1 T lemon juice

    Chop butter into little bits. Add to flour. Use a fork and mash in the yolk and lemon juice (and butter). Chill your fingertips in iced water (!) then rub the flour in until it looks reasonably combined -- don't over do it, it can still look a bit buttery and lumpy. Encase dough with plastic wrap. Kinda squeeze it into a flat ball. Refrigerate for about an hour or so.

    Later...

    Roll your pastry out on lots of flour then place it into your quiche dish. I used one that is 10 inches in diameter.
    If the pastry breaks apart, that's okay. Just patch the holes with bits of pastry as best you can.

    Blind bake for 10 mins.

    Filling:

    Fry some sliced green onion or shallots in olive oil until lightly browned.

    Whisk together --
    4 eggs, plus one albumen (see pastry)
    1 T self-raising flour ( I used plain flour and a tiny bit of bicarb soda...)
    1/3 cup milk
    and then add 300 gms sour cream (I used Bellweather creme fraiche)
    salt and pepper to taste, if you really must....

    Tip shallots onto pastry shell. Arrange a tin of red or pink salmon (or anything else you want to put in there) across the surface. Sprinkle some grated gruyere. Lay down some lightly cooked asparagus spears-- (pre-steam for 2 mins). Then pour in your eggy custard.

    Bake for 180 degrees for 40 mins, or until top is golden and custard looks set (jiggle the dish).

    Serve to rapturous applause!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Maxmillion

      Thanks!

      No, not separating egg whites - I barely have patience to cook, much less separate eggs!

      Do you think your recipe will be okay crustless? - I am trying to cut out carbs. Also, I see you are baking for 40 minutes at 180 degrees; I was baking 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Perhaps the higher temperature results in a more souffle like consistency?

      1. re: omotosando

        Okay, whoops -- 180 deg C = 350 deg F

        sorry about that!

        Hmmmnnnn - crustless. I dunno. You might be better off seeking out frittata recipes if you wanna do away with the pastry factor.

        Or perhaps give this recipe a try inside a lightly buttered/greased glass dish or ceramic quiche plate (minus the pastry shell) and let us know if it's doable!

        1. re: omotosando

          Another thing, cutting out carbs but using heavy cream and cheese doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but each to their own.

          I subscribe to the "combine carbs with proteins" school of thought (and practice).

          But having said that, my recipe is in no way low calorie!! I don't make it very often for that reason alone.

          Also, I don't believe a quiche that is just eggs, cream/milk and cheese is going to be a very good quiche. You need some thickening agent (flour) to make it a custard. Other experts/reader might be able to chime in here with some more facts.
          You also need some other ingredients, such as bacon, salmon -- whatever -- to cut down the eggy factor and give it substance.

          Substituting milk for the sour cream/creme fraiche could work, but I cannot guarantee the desirable consistency.

          Again, best of luck, and if you have anything to report, I'd love to read your feedback.

      2. I've always believed that a quiche without a crust can no longer be called a quiche- it simply becomes a baked egg dish. I was reading through my new Bouchon cookbook and in it TK talks about how quiches today are really thin so you don't get what a quiche is. Keller describes a quiche as a baked custard that should have a silky interior so you have to bake it at about 3 inches high and it requires a lot of cream and eggs to fill it up.

        If your quiches have the texture of a souffle it could be that you are aerating your cream too much or something.

        12 Replies
        1. re: digkv

          "a quiche as a baked custard that should have a silky interior so you have to bake it at about 3 inches high and it requires a lot of cream and eggs to fill it up."

          Precisely!

          1. re: digkv

            I suspect Thomas Keller may have been a long way from a ruler when he said quiches should be three inches thick. That would make them an egg terrine! Just to make sure I'm not forgetting things, I have both measured my own quiche dishes and gone to several cooking websites to look over their quiche baking dishes to be sure I'm not out in left field. Keller may have been thinking of something else, but no quiche I've ever heard of is three inches deep!

            My own quiche dishes -- brown clay from France -- are about an inch and a quarter deep outside measure, an inch deep inside. The deepest one I could find on the web is from Villaroy and Boche for eighty bucks that might push 1 1/2 inches inside measure, but more likely 1 1/4 inches.

            A classic quiche never contains flour, except in the crust. In the oldest quiche recipes from Lorraine, France, a quiche was closer to being a savoury custard "pie." Bread dough was rolled as thinly as possible, then eased into the pan and up the sides, then dusted with flour, covered very liberally with small pieces of fresh butter, then filled with a "well beaten" mixture of eggs, heavy cream and salt. Baked in a very hot oven for "not more than ten minutes." But then, the French do like their eggs baverse.

            Later, pie dough was substituted for bread dough, and a thin layer of cheese was placed across the blind baked crust to keep it from going soggy. And then ham or bacon was added. Then sauteed onions. I prerer bacon to ham, but it's a personal choice.

            omotosando, if the ingredients on the Atkins quiches you're trying to replicate only listed cheese, eggs and cream, then those are the ingredients I'd work with but... The shape of the baking dish may be what made their quiches firmer than yours. Or since it's a crustless quiche, they may also have used a water bath, either putting the quiche containers directly into it, or using a pan of water on a lower oven shelf. You could also try reducing the oven temperature a few degrees and extending the baking time to firm up the texture, but in that case I would put the quiche dishes directly in the water bath.

            Here are a couple of Atkins quiche recipes, but you've probably already tried them.
            http://tinyurl.com/2b8eqm
            http://tinyurl.com/22qe8v

            When you bake a "crustless quiche," any way you slice it, you're basically just making a dish of custard. Good luck! Hope this helps.

            1. re: Caroline1

              I make mine with a pate brisse and put it into a springform pan and I would say they are at leat 3 inches high. I include a tablespoon of flour just to keep the custard from being runny (I learned this from a chef). Ingredients will vary a bit but always using my favorite cheese, fontina, then a handfull or two of mozzeralla, jack and just a tad of cheddar. For the grilled vegetable version,I love to grill leeks or scallions, fresh garlic, crimini mushrooms, red peppers, asparagus, and proscuitto.
              I use cream, and whole eggs, and a little salt and pepper.
              I do bake the quiche in the crust without problems. Not only is the tall quiche tasty, but beautiful to serve.
              A perfect lunch!

              1. re: chef chicklet

                you missed my favorable review of your recipe below!

                1. re: DGresh

                  Hey! I missed your review and babettes! Thank you for the feedback, glad you like it! Thanks for putting the link up, I don't know why I missed your post!

                  I love the quiches I worked on because I kept getting such lousy quiche when ordering out. Yup, my second triumph after the Starbucks Scones (for me anyway!)

                  My trusty testers were my neighbors, they love it when they see me coming by with one of those quiches!

                2. re: chef chicklet

                  It does sound good, but I've never heard of baking a quiche in a spring mold before. Such a sheltered life! But sometimes I do a phyllo crust for my quiches instead of pate brisee. The trick is you have to use LOTS of butter, blind bake, then line the bottom with a good cheese to keep it from sogging up. I use about 10 layers of phylo. I'm such a lush!

                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    Okay... This quiche in a springform thing has got me thinking... Has anyone ever made a savoury cheesecake? That might be interesting... Too lazy to Google, but I'm thinking.

                    1. re: Caroline1

                      I haven't, but I think there have been posts on here about blue cheese cheese cakes.. I don't recall the name of the thread. Might have to do a search for it. I think it was around the holidays that it came up..maybe appetizers? sorry.

                      1. re: Caroline1

                        There have been threads before about savory cheesecakes, some about goat cheese, polenta, smoked salmon all of which sound good.

                        1. re: Caroline1

                          Yeah, they're great with cocktails. I've done blue cheese with bacon, crawfish, shrimp and smoked salmon.
                          Funny story. A friend who put her gorgonzola cheesecake out had one guest pull her aside to tell her that her cheesecake had spoiled. The woman assumed it was a sweet cheesecake that had gone bad.

                          1. re: MakingSense

                            i guess that is why a garnish can be important in signaling the ingredients inside!

                            1. re: MakingSense

                              I used to work for a Brennan's family restuarant in New Orleans whose signature dish was a crabmeat cheesecake (and white chocolate bread pudding... both divine).

                    2. I make a quiche that bakes into a high, light custard. It is not true that a thickenening agent like flour is required to make a custard. In fact, flour is usually the thickening agent in the base of most souffles, whereas egg custard generally contains no other thickening agent--eggs are the thickening agent. Here is my basic recipe for a great quiche:

                      Beat 4 eggs slightly, then beat in 2 cups whipping cream or light (20%) cream, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Just beat to combine, don't whip the cream. I use a whisk for this, an electric mixer is overkill and will overbeat your eggs and cream.

                      In a 9-inch deep-dish pie crust (because I hate rolling out pastry, I buy frozen--heresy to some, but works for me), sprinkle your desired filling. I place in the unbaked crust the following ingredients in this order: about 4 to 6 ounces bacon that has been crisply fried then crumbled, about 4 ounces shredded gruyere cheese (shredded using a box grater with big holes, not a microplane), and about half of a small onion, minced very finely (1/3 cup).

                      Put the pastry pan on a cookie sheet or pizza pan to catch any drips, then pour the custard over the filling ingredients. Bake in a preheated 425-degree (Farenheit) oven for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees and cook for another 30 to 40 minutes, until a knife inserted one inch from the edge comes out clean.

                      You can vary the fillings, of course, but I've found that I really prefer the bacon, cheese and onion. And if you use a frozen pie crust, you should fill and bake the pastry frozen - don't bother to thaw it out ahead of time.

                      I think cooking a quiche without a crust gives an unappealing texture to it - exposing the eggs on the bottom to the high heat of the oven makes them tough and rubbery. And as a follower of a low-carb lifestyle, just don't eat the crust. Cook the quiche in the crust, but eat the custard portion leaving the crust portion on your plate.

                      Do try this recipe - I think it may be the solution you seek.

                      1. regarding the "three inch high" discussion, I would have agreed, but recently have been a convert to the recipe posted here by chef chicklet awhile back. It's done in a springform pan is absolutely delicious.

                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/369390

                        1. "What am I doing wrong?"

                          What did you do, more specifically than "baked a quiche"? If you barely have patience to cook, you probably don't pay much attention to what you're doing either (I've seen this a lot, it's not an insult just a comment) so you may get different results every time without knowing what it is that actually went wrong. At first glance, it sounds like you overbeat your eggs and probably had too high a ratio of egg to other ingredients. Most recipes for quiche that I've seen or used call for heavy cream, and quite a lot. Julia Child's simplified basic ratio is 1 egg plus enough light cream to make 1/2 cup (ie, put the egg(s) in the measuring cup, add cream to 1/2 cup or whatever multiple you need for the amount of eggs.) You "beat" just enough to blend everything together. A little more than just breaking up the eggs, but you are certainly not looking to incorporate much air. A fork is the easiest thing to do that job. You might also try baking it at a slightly lower temperature for longer, or using a water bath to slow down/even out the cooking.

                          Also, honestly, what you're looking for doesn't sound like the ideal of any quiche I've eaten or tasted. Maybe it's just a difference of semantics, but "dense" isn't something I would consider desireable in a quiche. And dense on top of frozen suggests to me you may be trying to reverse-engineer something using a flawed model. Atkins may have called it quiche, but if it was distinctly different from the traditional version, traditional recipes won't get you very far. You might try a thread focusing on reproducing that product or you could try googling, maybe someone's already looked into this...

                          1. again without knowing your combinations of eggs, milk, cream and cheese (and veggies if you add them) hard to know what you are doing. In my experience of making quiches for the last 30 years I would say fewer eggs than you think you need - for a 10" quiche dish I would use no more than 4.

                            Make pastry and bake blind.

                            mix 4 eggs with a fork not an electric beater, add milk or cream, at this point I add my vegetables either cooked or raw depending on the veggies, and then the cheese, salt and pepper and herbs. Pour mix into pastry case. If the mix doesnt fill the case, I now pour milk over the mix until it all reaches just under the top of the pastry without spilling over. Always seems to need more cheese than I think!
                            bake at 350 until risen and browned - I guess 30 mins.

                            1. If you really don't want a crust - having been through the South Beach thing, I can understand that - you could bake your custard mixture in a hot water bath. This will require a dish deep enough so that the hot water can come just halfway up the sides and still be at least 1" deep. Grease the dish and pour in your mixture, set it in a larger dish in a preheated oven and pour simmering-hot water into that. Bake until the custard has set up - you know the drill.

                              I've also made quite a few green chile "quiches" (the quotes are a sop to all the purists running loose here), using canned green chiles - Ortega, of course! - as the "crust." I open up the chiles, pat them dry and get rid of the seeds, then lay them into a greased pie dish so as to cover the bottom and sides as tightly as possible. Then I put in my shredded cheese and pour the custard mixture over all. This is part of a personal quest to see how many variations on the theme of Chiles Rellenos I can come up with...

                              1. There is no such thing as a quiche without a crust. You are baking a custard or whatever. You will do better baking it in a water bath so that the outside edges don't get tough, and probably can do fine baking it in several smaller ramekins.

                                The Julia Child quiche filling from Way to Cook works fine, is no-nonsense and encourages improvisation. The basic liquid uses 3 large eggs with enough milk ( whole milk is best) or cream (not good if you're dieting) to make a total of 1 1/2 cups. I've used fat-free half-and-half and it worked well, but plain whole milk did the job. I add a few shots of Tabasco. Salt and pepper.
                                JC's basic recipe uses 6 slices of bacon, crumbled, but you can use chopped ham, salmon or something else.
                                She calls for 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese or gruyere. I've used whatever I had on hand.
                                Bake for 30 minutes at 375 for a 9 inch quiche in a shell but you'll have to adjust the time for a full sized custard in a water bath or smaller ramekins. They will brown and puff slightly on top when they're done just as the quiche would.
                                This recipe has never failed me.
                                Alternates in the book call for the addition of cooked spinach and other things so that if the basic recipe works for you, you can alter it so you won't get bored. Not having to use cream will keep the calorie count down, helping your diet as much as cutting the carbs does.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: MakingSense

                                  "Not having to use cream will keep the calorie count down, helping your diet as much as cutting the carbs does." You really have to watch these pronouncements. Piecrust is made with white flour - at least it is if it's any good! - which is a simple carb, with a high glycemic index. The point of the South Beach diet is health, not specifically weight loss - for a person who's pre-diabetic, high-glycemic foods are much worse than fats, because their burn rate is so much faster - baked potatoes, for instance, are much worse for you than French fries.

                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                    Agree absolutely. It's still a common mistake that low-carbers make. Or any of the restrictive diet adherents. Cut out something but fail to recognize the downside of other stuff. You can't cut out carbs on South Beach, Sugar Busters, or Atkins, and then load up on rib-eye steak, butter, cream, cheese, etc. Many vegetarian diets are high fat, high calorie even with no meat at all. Many grains, yogurt, soy products are very calorie-dense.
                                    In this case, the OP was cutting out a pie crust as part of the diet, but making the custard with 2 cups of cream, 1 dozen eggs, and 2 cups of cheese! That is a huge number of calories for a single quiche.

                                2. All very illuminating and helpful.

                                  I was definitely using too many eggs (the last recipe I used called for 1 dozen eggs and 2 cups of cream and 2 cups of cheese - I got so much batter that even my large ceramic quiche baker wasn't big enough to contain the batter).

                                  I also definitely whipped the batter too much -- took one of those handheld aerators and really went to town. Now it makes perfect sense why I got egg souffle.

                                  Also, I used gruyere cheese, which I thought would be good, but the quiche was actually rather flavorless. Or maybe it was low quality gruyere - I got it at Whole Foods -- and honestly their products are not the best, even though expensive.

                                  Next time, less eggs, less whipping of eggs and cream and I will definitely use the hot water bath technique.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: omotosando

                                    You've already gotten a lot of good advice. I wanted to add that Cooks Illustrated has an excellent quiche recipe, ratio 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks, 1 c milk, and 1 c cream, 4 oz gruyere. It almost seems like too much liquid, like it won't cook but it does. Gruyere is great in quiche. It could be the other seasonings you used.

                                    1. re: omotosando

                                      You say it was flavorless? Did you salt the custard? (Pepper too, but salt, absolutely.) If you were using very salty bacon or ham and few vegs, you might get away with not salting the custard, but not with the cheese alone - it's not fondue, so even though the cheese has salt, it's not mixing into the custard to that degree. I guess you didn't taste the cheese while you were making the quiche? I've never encountered "flavorless" Gruyere though some are stronger than others, but that would certainly be a problem.

                                      PS: In my earlier post, I wrote something like "most recipes I've seen call for heavy cream". I forgot the "don't" - like the Julia Child ratio I posted, they usually call for light cream or 1/2 & 1/2. I don't know but think that heavy cream would produce a denser product used in proper propertion. Whole milk is fine/good for everyday quiche but won't produce anything like the extra-rich texture you describe in your OP. Lower-fat quiche just isn't worth the bother, IMO, but of course YMMV.

                                      1. re: MikeG

                                        No, I didn't salt the custard - only used pepper, which obviously wasn't sufficient. The funny thing about the cheese is that I used two cups shredded gruyere and if I didn't know and if someone had told me there was cheese in the quiche, I would have been surprised, There was just no discernible cheese taste. This was probably because of too high a ratio of eggs and cream (recipe called for a dozen eggs and two cups cream). The recipe merely tasted like some kind of light, fluffy cooked eggs, hence my feeling I could have achieved the same effect with much less effort by simply scrambling some eggs.

                                        I will definitely try all these suggestions once I get another hankering for quiche.

                                        1. re: omotosando

                                          It sounds like much of your taste problem was lack of salt. Both eggs and cheese need quite a bit of salt when cooked/melted.

                                          Look at the recipes in Julia Child for "gratins," follow them to a "T," and you will have crustless quiche recipes that are divine and that you love.

                                    2. I made the Cooking Light "Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole" (a quiche with homemade bread crumbs instead of pie crust) in a springform pan today, and the 2 parts seem glued together now!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. In my world a crustless quiche is called a fritatta. the secret to getting it to taste good is yummy ingredients, such as sauteed veg (bell peppers, zucchini, spanish onion, mushrooms) possibly some roasted garlic, fresh herbs (basil, italian parsley, dill) smoked salmon or ham, fresh spinach, different cheeses (chevre, brie, swiss). The best are usually using up leftovers, you know, weird ends you have laying around the fridge, (sauteed potato is very spanish, I have used roasted yam & brie) scallions, chives, I use minimum of cream, hot sauce in egg mixture, salt & pepper. nonstick fry pan, saute some onion & veg in a knob of butter til soft, whisk eggs etc. add fresh herbs & cheese & protein (if using) to egg mixture & pour into pan. toss pan into oven (350 ish) until firm. (20 mins or so depending on size of pan). enjoy. easy peasy. cheers

                                        1. I know that if I use adequate cream, I get a lovely smooth quiche texture. If I try to cut back calories by using milk or using too little cream, it results in a more eggy souffle texture... which I dont mind at times for sake of nutrition.

                                          1. If you have Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Vol. I) by Julia Child, take a look at the section on "gratins," which are basically crustless quiches. They are fabulous! Here's a link to my post on the "gratin with leeks and ham," which I made during the Julia cookbook-of-the-month month:

                                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/446370

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: DanaB

                                              That is beautiful, DanaB!! It looks like you braised the leeks whole, is that correct? I really want to try your recipe!

                                              1. re: Mellicita

                                                The recipe is from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Very simple. You need to clean the leeks well, and trim them (the recipe calls for 12 leeks). Julia gives detailed instructions on that front. Put them in the pan with 6 T. butter, 1/2 T. salt and cover with enough water to cover leeks by 2/3rds. Simmer for a while (20-30 mins.), until most water is gone and leeks are tender. That's it!

                                                1. re: DanaB

                                                  Thanks, DanaB. I will definitely have to buy a copy of that cook book! Your photos have my mouth watering!

                                                  1. re: Mellicita

                                                    It's a *very* worthwhile cookbook to buy -- if I only had to take one cookbook with me onto a desert island, it would be Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One. (Hopefully, I'd be able to bring five books, and the other four would be Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, Rick Bayless' Authentic Mexican, and an early copy of Joy of Cooking/Boston Cooking School Cookbook or the like (the old versions include butchering and preserving techniques -- have to be practical on that desert isle!)