Although quiche is considered a classic dish of French cuisine, it actually originated in Germany, in the medieval kingdom of Lothringen. The French later came to occupy this region, which they renamed Lorraine. The word quiche is from the German Kuchen, meaning cake.
Quiche Lorraine is named after the region in France in which it originated, Alsace-Lorraine. The center of the quiche will be surprisingly soft when it comes out of the oven, but the filling will continue to set (and sink somewhat) as it cools. If the pie shell has been previously baked and cooled, place it in the heating oven for about five minutes to warm it, taking care that it does not burn. Because ingredients in the variation that follows are bulkier, the amount of custard mixture has been reduced to prevent overflowing the crust.
1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
½ teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into ¼-inch pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
4-5 tablespoons ice water
8 ounces (about 8 slices) bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
4 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
1. For the Crust: Pulse the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor workbowl fitted with a steel blade. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture, tossing to coat with flour. Cut the butter into the flour with five 1-second pulses. Add the shortening and continue cutting in until the flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about four more 1-second pulses. Turn the mixture into a medium bowl.
2. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of ice water over the mixture. With the blade of a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix. Press down on the mixture with the broad side of a spatula until the dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more ice water if it will not come together. Shape the dough into a ball, squeezing it two or three times with hands until cohesive, then flatten it into a 4-inch-wide disk. Dust the dough lightly with flour, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days, before rolling.
3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator; let it stand at room temperature to soften slightly, about 10 minutes if dough has chilled for 30 minutes or 20 minutes if it has chilled overnight. (The dough should be pliable. Use your hands to squeeze the dough; if you can squeeze it without applying too much pressure, it is ready to roll.) Roll the dough on a lightly floured work surface or between two sheets of plastic wrap to a 12-inch disk about 1/8-inch thick. Fold the dough in quarters, then place the dough point in the center of a pie pan. Unfold the dough.
4. Working around the circumference of the pan, press the dough carefully into the pan corners by gently lifting the dough edges with one hand while pressing around the pan bottom with the other hand. Trim the edge to 1/2-inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that the folded edge is about 1/4-inch beyond pan lip. Use the index finger of one hand and the thumb and index finger of the other to create evenly spaced fluted edges. For quiche or tart pans, lift the edge of the dough, allowing the extra dough to flop over the sides, then run the rolling pin over the top of the pan to remove excess dough. Next, use your forefinger and thumb to press the dough evenly up the sides from the bottom to increase the height of the rim. Refrigerate the pie shell for 40 minutes and then freeze for 20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Press a doubled 12-inch square of aluminum foil inside the dough shell; evenly distribute 1 cup or 12 ounces of ceramic or metal pie weights over the foil. Bake, leaving the foil and weights in place, until the dough dries out, about 17 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and weights by gathering the sides of the foil and pulling up and out. Continue baking until light golden brown, about 9 minutes more. Remove the pie shell from the oven but do not turn off the oven.
6. For the Filling: Fry the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel–lined plate. Whisk together the remaining ingredients except the cheese in a medium bowl.
7. Spread the cheese and bacon evenly over the bottom of the warm pie shell and set the shell on the oven rack. Pour the custard mixture into the pie shell (it should come to about 1/2 inch below the crust’s rim). Bake until light golden brown and a knife blade inserted about 1 inch from the edge comes out clean and the center feels set but soft like gelatin, 32 to 35 minutes. Transfer the quiche to a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Follow the recipe for Quiche Lorraine, reducing the quantities of milk and cream to 3/4 cup each. Add 2 tablespoons dry sherry and a pinch of cayenne pepper to the custard mixture. Replace the bacon and cheese with 8 ounces (1 cup) cooked crabmeat tossed with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives.