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Mar 29, 2009 12:55 PM

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):

" 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. The original comment has been removed
              1. That recipe *totally* sucked for me, which is a rare occurence.