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Why did my quiche leak?

I was in one of my moods and was determined to tackle Bouchon's quiche lorraine recipe. Usually, I'm the type of person who never reads instructions for things and just figure out as I go. But I know Keller's recipes require some diligence and preparation. So I read his quiche essay in the Bouchon cookbook and did some Internet research.

For those of you who don't know, I'm suffering from dough-a-phobia. So making pastry crust from scratch was a big deal for me. I cut the butter into pieces, chilled it in the freezer and worked it into the flour by HAND. I don't have a pastry cutter or a mixer or a food processor. I thought I did a pretty good job -- the flour/butter mixture was crumbly by the end and did not have any large butter pieces in it. I then added the ice water and formed it into a round circle. Then I rested the dough like a good girl (even though a part of me was tempted to defy Keller's instructions).

Now, I think my big problem was that I didn't have a 9x2 ring mold Keller advocated using. I did have a 9x3 springform pan and decided to use it the ring portion, making sure I rolled out the dough to an appropriate thickness and not having the crust reach the top of the pan. I've read about reports of leaking, and thought I was being so smart by not rolling the crust out too thin. Ha! What in the world was I thinking? Especially when I read this by Michael Ruhlman (one of the authors of the Bouchon cookbook):

"...it doesn't work in a springform pan, always leaks, don't know why."


My smugness was also bolstered by reading Russ Parson's comment:

"add the filling ingredients to the crust while both are still hot. this is different than what it says in the recipe (cooled crust), but actually what it implies in the intro. the hot crust sets the custard more quickly, reducing leakage."


Well, I rolled out the pastry to the appropriate thickness, transferred it over to my springform ring mold the Thomas Keller way (draping over a rolling pin as opposed to the quarters method), and blind baked the dough. After it came out of the oven, I scrutinized it like crazy. No breaks in the crust. So far so good. Then I added the custard, bacon, onion confit and sauteed mushrooms (not traditionally in quiche lorraine, but my touch). I held my breath and prayed for the best. Okay. It wasn't leaking! Then I guess the universe was getting back at me for all the bad things I've done in the past because after 30 seconds of admiring my work, the custard started seeping out of the mold! I was so deflated! It was 1:00A (I guess I didn't plan the timing of this very well), and I was exhausted physically and emotionally.

Luckily I had a jellyroll pan underneath and it caught almost all of the custard. I just dumped the custard into a rectangular baking pan and baked it at a slightly lower temperature until the center was quivering slightly. I served it with pieces of the crust. It tasted fine, but it wasn't the magnificent Bouchon quiche I was going for.

So does anybody know why my quiche leaked? I guess the obvious answer is that there was a small leak in the crust that was imperceptible to the human eye. That could definitely be a possibility. But Ruhlman also makes a comment that springform pans just don't work. It kind of defies logic. Anybody have other theories?

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  1. I've used the technique you describe (and it is a pain and IMHO, not really worth the effort), but I did not use a springform pan (regular quiche dish). and I did not have a problem.

    I do use a springform pan for cheesecakes where seepage is not an issue, but one memorable disaster with a torte with a mousse thing put me off springforms for anything where leakage is likely.

    On the other hand, maybe the 1:00 am thing worked against you...I'd be so shattered at any difficulty at that hour, I would likely have burst into tears, turned off the oven and made scrambled eggs with the innards (late!) the next morning. Good for you for the piece of mind of salvaging anything (and having anyone left to serve it to-you friends/ family have more stamina than mine!)

    3 Replies
    1. re: LJS

      When you're mentioning "technique," are you referring to the making of the pastry crust? Honestly, I think it was the first pastry crust I've ever made. I think the job would have been much easier with a food processor or stand mixer. But I just don't have the room for that right now.

      Yeah, if you used a regular quiche dish, the seepage thing wouldn't have been an issue at all. Silly me, I took care to line the sides of the ring mold with aluminum foil. I didn't even think about the leaking from the bottom! I should have wrapped the bottom with aluminum foil extending it to the sides. Perhaps I would have been able to save it.

      Sigh! It was a difficult night. I was pissed and it took me a lot of restraint from screaming in exasperation at that time and waking up my neighbors. : )

      1. re: Miss Needle

        M-m, both the springform thing and the reference to the heated custard mixture...I admit I've never done that...

        I do mix my own Quiche pastry and I (partially) pre-bake it 'blind'. I grew up in a home where pastry was considered really easy ( you know, 'easy as pie')so that part doesn't phase me...

        I confess I am less concerned about a lightly underdone crust in a classic Quiche Lorraine (with or without mushrooms) than I am in fruit pies where it seems more nakedly raw somehow. I have been driven to try Hodgman's (Beat That Cookbook, I believe) really finicky pastry technique in an attempt to get past this horror of icky raw pastry dough in a blueberry pie where it really show.

        1. re: LJS

          Well, you're a much better woman (or man) than I am. I wish dough related things wouldn't freak me out so much. All the pie crusts I've made have either been from a mix (when I was a kid) to using Pillsbury ready-made pie crusts when I got older.

    2. THat s/b 'presence' of mind!

      1. Aaarghh!! That is so frustrating Miss Needle. You are way-y-y less type "A" than me! I'd have smashed the damn quiche out in the backyard while cursing in French the entire time, and preparing my bonfire onto which I'd gleefully toss Monsieur Keller's frakking book. But that's just me ;) I try to avoid recipes where it requires a purchase of equipment to achieve success. Was there no adaptation to the recipe if you didn't have a 9 by 2 ring mold? Those wiley French... adam

        6 Replies
        1. re: adamshoe

          I always use a regular pie pan for quiche and it turns out fine. Usually a 12" glass pie pan. Even if there is a leak, the pieces stay intact and are easily cut.

          1. re: emilief

            Me too, emiief. Just my regular ol' pyrex 9" pie plate. No blind baking (I suck at that, but that's another thread entirely...) and a pate brisee crust or Mom's recipe for Vera Stark's ipsy-pipsy perfect pie crust (a family secret). Pour in the egg/milk/cheese/chive mixture and bake. Deliciously custardy and yummy quiche everytime. OOps... almost forgot, there's bacon in there, too!! adam

            1. re: emilief

              I hate to say, but my crust in a food processor, put in a glass 9" pie plate and fill and bake. Great quiche every time. No fuss, no work, nothing hard. It may have not bad the traditional perfect quiche, but I had great quiche and mine was pretty close. I had no complaints, no problems and hardly any work.

              I can appreciate the recipe, but I would never go through all that work for something I can get in 1/3 the time and 1/3 the work. But give you credit for the ambition.

              1. re: kchurchill5

                Yes, emilief and kchurchill5, I've always done my quiche (using Pillsbury ready-made crusts) in a 9" pie plate. But I was intrigued about doing it in a deeper dish as it really lends a different texture -- it has a more creamy and silky interior.

                And kchurchill5, I would have definitely used a food processor if I had one for the pie crust. It was quite a pain doing it by hand.

                Perhaps next time I'll try using the entire springform pan (bottom and all) and wrap the whole thing in aluminum foil. I don't like to buy new pieces of cookware unless I forsee myself using it multiple times. And with the fat and calorie content of quiche, I don't see myself making this very often.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  True, I do usually make my own in the processor which is easier by far. Understand what you went through. Been there. Did a deep crust once ... what a pain, but give credit to trying. better than me :)

                  I make them not too often either but do enjoy it.. Hard and a pain but I do love a good quiche.

                  Agreed, I usually use what I have and make do the best I can. Grandma did so I do as well. I give you kudos for trying. I hope next time whatever you try goes better.

                  I am making one this week for a friend. Pie pate and food processor crust ... but I'll be thinking about you ...

            2. re: adamshoe

              Ha ha. I was pretty pissed. Your reaction probably would have been my reaction as well if I didn't live in an apartment building with a whole bunch of neighbors just a few feet away. ; )

              Anyway, Keller is known for being quite exacting and a bit dogmatic with his recipes -- and for what a quiche should be -- he goes on about how Americans have "trashed" the French quiche -- his words, not mine. The recipes are exactly what he uses for his restaurants. So no adaptation for the home cook, I'm afraid. The plus is if you follow the recipes exactly, it's exactly what he serves at his restaurants. The downside is that his books are probably not the most accessible to most home cooks.

            3. That recipe *totally* sucked for me, which is a rare occurence.

              1. Miss Needle, I'm often also baking in the wee small hours of the morning, often enough to know that the failures are just minor set backs. So, don't give up!

                I do a little of the "hot crust" technique, but only to sprinkle as evenly as possible a thin layer of grated cheese all over the baked crust so that they melt and form a layer of protection against the liquid portion. When I see that the cheeses have melted, I then lay in the other ingredients.

                Another thing that I hear people do is to brush the pie crust with egg white before blind baking it, possible to make it leak proof, too.

                Sorry if this doesn't really apply in your situation. I don't know the recipe you're using. I do know that making your own crust taste so much better that it's definitely worth the effort!

                1. I don't know why your quiche leaked. I made the Quiche Lorraine when I first got the book, a few years ago. After doing the same reading you did, I bet, I decided to buy the silly ring. IIRC it cost $4 - $5. The quiche was fantastic and looked amazing. Did you freeze the formed crust before baking? I froze mine for upwards of 1/2 an hour. I think you just have to bite the bullet and buy the ring - it really was a WOW quiche.

                  1. 2 knifes work pretty well, instead of the pastry blender or the food processor. Less heat to warm up the butter, though I'm not sure that would lead to the leak. Perhaps there was a crack somewhere. I don't think a ring would be any different than your springform mold. Maybe a deep cake pan (If you don't have a round one, a square on like an 8x8 )will give you the depth with the bottom.

                    1. hm... you know what I got to say about Ruhlman? Bull.
                      Either he's doing someting wrong or he hasn't the right springform pan. I use a springform pan for quiche every time I make it. I don't use anything else.
                      I love quiche and made it was my quest to make the very best I could after eating some rather thinnish, weak egg pie the last time I was craziest enough to order it while at lunch.

                      I don't bake the pastry first. I simply wrap a bit of the foil around the bottom, place it on a cooking sheet and bake. I don't bring the dough all the way to the top but almost.

                      The results of using a springform pan are rewarding, it produces the most beautiful tall quiche fit for a cake stand. I can only think that it's the pan. I'd be happy to make one and take a photo if there is any doubt.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: chef chicklet

                        You're using the whole springform pan with the base, right? With Bouchon's recipe, you use the ring mold so it would be the sides of the springform pan, only, not the base, as Miss Needle did. I've been eyeing the recipe for a while but decided that if I did, I'd use a springform pan with the base wrapped in aluminum like a cheesecake since they're both egg custards when you come down to it.

                        I don't understand why Miss Needle's would have leaked, though--when a free form pie dough can hold in the wet filling w/out leaking. I'm wondering if there were patches where the bigger butter bits didn't have enough flour and when they melted in the baking, the egg mxture oozed out. I think painting egg white on it first might work, too, as HLing suggest.

                        1. re: chowser

                          Yes I sure am.
                          Wait then, I guess I misunderstood or is it mentioned in the post and I'm blind?
                          So what you're saying is the method is to make a shell and bake it with the mold first, then use the pastry shell itself as the carrier of the eggs mix?

                          My next question if you're going to use a tin to carry it around or catch the leaks, why not use the bottom tin? I'm so confused!!

                          1. re: chef chicklet

                            You use the ring mold and place it on a cookie sheet and drape the dough over that. Then bake. The ring mold has no base and there are little spaces between the ring mold and the cookie sheet so it seems like a springform pan base work the same way. But if I were using a springform pan, I'd do what you do.

                            1. re: chowser

                              I am completely dumbfounded. Why would a person do that? Is the idea that you will achieve a crusty bottom?
                              I found this on flickr. To each their own, I'm pretty happy with my results.

                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                meant to post this photo of keller's quiche someone had made and posted to flickr. http://www.flickr.com/photos/fooey/40...

                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                  That's my photo. Thanks for posting! Not one of my best efforts there, but...it was tasty!

                                  I don't use a springform pan because the crust on the bottom comes out soggy.

                                  There's a lot of liquid on top and, if the bottom is not exposed directly to the baking stone, it turns out awful.

                                  Here are a couple of pictures of my setup:


                                  I use a ring mold on top of a cookie sheet (pizza pan) and I make absolutely sure to prebake the crust (and cool it, which is probably the most important step) in the mold before I fill the quiche.

                                  1. re: fooey

                                    If you're wondering why I have it on a cookie sheet, it's because...yup!...they leak. I've gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent that, but they leak.

                                    Here's the secret that helps the most:

                                    Never pour the custard until the quiche shell and its fillings are in the oven on the oven rack.

                                    If the shell cracks, resulting in a leak, it almost always happens when you try to transfer a quiche full of unset custard to the oven.

                                    1. re: fooey

                                      If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say it leaked because the crust was not properly cooled.

                                      I don't know what Russ Parson's was thinking about when he said "add the filling ingredients to the crust while both are still hot" (other than perhaps trying to ruin a legion of quiches), but that's wrong in my opinion.

                                      There's just no way a hot pastry shell is going to set the nearly 6 cups of custard in the Buchon recipe, although it might help on a quiche 1/6 the size. You have to bake this quiche for 75 to 90 minutes for it to set!

                                      When I make this quiche, I make the dough in a food processor and I make sure to chill it overnight, sometimes a couple of nights.

                                      It has to be baked before it's filled.

                                      It's a gigantic crust, enough to make 4 regular fruit pies.

                      2. You know what I have to say to Ruhlman...Bull. I use a springform pan every single time and they come out beautifully!

                        Pastry Dough for 1 Quiche
                        1 1/2 Cups King Arthus unbleached flour sifted
                        1/2 cup plus 2 T cubed ice cold butter
                        1/4 tsp salt (kosher)
                        1 tsp flour

                        In the processor using pulse:
                        Put in the butter, flour, and the salt until it resembles coarse meal
                        Add 1 egg mix until the dough comes together depending on the weather add a little cream or ice water. Pat and shape into a disk put into the fridge for 1 hour.
                        The recipe says bring it to room temp, I roll it out cold. Dough will keep for 1 day, after that toss.

                        1 1/2 Cup of Monterey, Fontina, or Swiss
                        1/2 Cup Mozzerella or Brie
                        1/4 Cup Cheddar or Colby
                        1 1/2 C Cream
                        1/2 C Milk -1% or whatever you have
                        1 tsp flour
                        prepare the dough and roll it into a 9 inch Quiche or Springform pan, bring the dough up the sides, careful not to tear the dough working quickly and press firmly into place. Do not grease the pan - put the pastry lined pan back into the fridge until your ready to use.

                        Prepare the veggies or meat prior to the pastry and then slice it getting it ready to layer as you pour the egg and sprinkle the cheeses..
                        3-4 slices Procuitto or Good Quality Ham or Bacon - cooked and fat drained
                        To grill I use a cast iron grill, or use a saute pan just go for carmelized
                        6 Asparagas Spears, Grilled use olive oil on all the veggies Fresh Spinach, Green Onions, grilled 3 cloves of garlic grilled and sliced or Leeks grilled, Criminis browned and quartered, sundried tomatoes, fresh basil. Use any combination you like, keeping the total veggies to about 1 cup, after being chopped into chunky pieces

                        Quiche batter
                        4 lg eggs beaten and the flour
                        1/4 tp ground fresh nutmeg
                        Salt and pepper to taste
                        Place foil around the bottom of the pan to ensure no leaking.
                        Mix the batter well with a whisk, then to the pastry in the pan, place the cheese and the veggies in layers and add the egg mix gradually, (don't fill to the top! It will riseand then reach the top when baking,) gently push the pan careful not to spill.
                        At 350 degrees in my gas oven, it took about 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the center of the quiche moves slightly when the pan is shaken, and the pastry is deep golden brown (cover the edge with foil if it becomes to brown) I would just keep a close eye, since all ovens cook differently.
                        Prior to removing the quiche from the oven I add about a quarter of a cup of colby or cheddar to the top for effect.
                        Once its cooled, undo the sping and remove the casing of the pan. place on a cake pedestal and slice warm pieces.

                        My favorite is the crimini browned mushrooms, grilled garlic, leeks, and bacon. Sort of an UpTown Quiche Lorraine.....Enjoy!!

                        ps you might want to see the note about putting the pasty line pan back into the fridge for awhile, remember your hands are warm, and that could cause the pastry to tear. So put it back in for 20 mins or so.

                        I also want to add that I started to use the processor for speed sake. I can make the same pate brisee with a fork or my hands. Just don't ask me to make pie dough!

                        A couple of summers ago after eating a rather horrible thinnish slice of quiche that I paid $5 for, I decided to make it a quest to make a tall and scrumptions quiche. Now, I make all different kinds, roasting or grilling your veggies,and adding garlic, will make all the difference in the world.

                        1. i think you should take pride in having invented the s-quiche quiche

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: silverhawk

                            Label your quiche as "deconsructed" and say it was meant to be that way.

                          2. My "tricks" to making successful quiche are as follows:

                            1) use 9-10 in traditional quiche pan (this was a gift and very pretty)
                            2) blind bake the crust using parchment paper and "baking rice" for 10 min @ 400 and 5 min @ 350 - crust will be not so wet
                            3) ratio of custard is 3 large eggs to 1 1/2 cups milk/half & half/cream, dash of nutmeg in addition to s&p
                            4) paint bottom of baked crust with 1 tsp dijon mustard, gives great flavor, seals crust from leaking
                            5) VERY IMPORTANT - lay down grated cheese BEFORE any other ingredients - melted cheese also serves to keep custard from leaking and keeps crust crispy

                            1. I admit that I made a traditional quiche lorraine this past week, but I didn't use Bouchons. I used my own recipe. A few combinations of recipes. I did use a spring form, lined the bottom with foil up the sides. Crust was cool, filling was not hot either, room temp. Baked and it was perfect. My crust was done in the food processor but it turned out perfectly. Nice and high and perfectly done. No leakage. It was good, but I would still make mine in a good old fashioned quiche pan or pie plate. Just as good for me. But it was fun to try.