Wife Jan is hosting Ethnobreakfast again and I am getting tired of endless variations of deviled eggs. Recently, I have discovered how to make the perfect short crust. Mini quiches came to mind as something new and different to experiment with. She is expecting 20 people to physically show up—some Skype into the meeting—so that means making at least 40 quiches.
Karl’s Mini Quiches
12 oz. butter, unsalted (1½ sticks)
3 large eggs, separate uses
½ cup full fat sour cream
2 ½ cups AP flour
1 tsp. Kosher salt
½ cup cream
½ tsp. white pepper
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ cup chives, snipped finely, separate uses
¼ lb. ham, shredded
¼ lb. white cheddar cheese shredded
Note: Crust dough may be made up to two days ahead of time.
1. Put the butter in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour.
Tip: You will be using a box grater to mix the butter into the flour.
Note: While you want the butter very cold, you do not want it frozen solid, as that makes it difficult to grate.
2. Scramble the egg and extra yolk in a small bowl and then whisk in the sour cream.
Tip: It is important to use full fat sour cream. The fats in the egg yolks and sour cream bind with the flour to prevent the formation of too much gluten.
Note: I usually use a variation of French pastry for much of my baking. The English technique is to work the butter into the flour to melt and bind up its gluten forming properties. I chop the butter into fine discreet cold bits. When these bits of butter melt during baking they create little pockets of steam that create the crusts flakey texture and provide some “lift” in a pastry that does not have other leavening. The fats in the wet ingredients substitute for some of the butter to bind to the flour and to prevent too much gluten formation and a tough crust.
3. Put the flour and salt into a medium bowl and mix well.
Tip: Sifting the flour and salt together several times works well.
4. Mix the wet ingredients into flour.
5. When most of the dry flour has been incorporated, turn the dough out onto a work surface.
Tip: I bought a pastry marble at a yard sale that is probably the best buy I have ever made.
Note: The cold marble prevents the butter from melting and the smooth surface prevents the dough from sticking too much.
6. Using well floured hands and a board scraper, work the rest of the flour into the dough ball.
7. Knead the dough for 1-2 minutes.
Tip: You want to ensure that the dough is fully mixed, but not so much that you get too much gluten formation.
8. Divide the dough in to quarters and roll each piece into a 12 inch snake.
9. Divide each dough snake into 12 even pieces.
Tip: Cut the snake in half and set the halves side by side. Cut the halves into six one inch pieces. Each ball should be about one inch in diameter.
Note: Roll each piece of dough into a small ball. At this point, you may take a pinch out of any ball that is a bit large and work it into any smaller ball.
10. Flour each ball well and place it in the cups of the mini muffin pan.
Tip: The flour keeps the dough from sticking to the pan.
Note: You do not want the balls to dry out while they are chilling, but wrapping each ball separately would be a waste. Solution: Since you are going to use the pan anyway, it make a convenient way to keep the balls from sticking together.
11. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
12. Put the eggs and cream in a mixing bowl and scramble them well.
13. Mix in the pepper, salt and chives.
14. If you have not already done so, shred the ham and cheese.
15. Preheat oven to 350º F.
16. Remove the muffin pan from the refrigerator and flatten the balls with your palm into 2 inch disks on a well floured board.
Tip: You want enough flour that the dough does not stick as you roll it out. You also want to flour your rolling pin as well. I use a tapered 9 inch jiaozi rolling pin that is perfect for rolling out small, thin disks—it is half the size of a French style rolling pin. I bought mine in China, but I was unable to find them online.
17. One at a time, roll the dough pieces out into 2½ inch disks.
18. Gently press the dough sheet into the mini muffin cups.
Tip: There should be about a quarter of an inch of the crust over lapping the top of the muffin cup, leave this excess crust sticking up to make the cups just a little deeper.
Note: I had thought that it was not necessary to grease or flour the muffin cups, because there was enough butter in the crust to self-grease the pan. For one of my pans this worked, but for the other the quiches stuck fast. Use your own judgment on greasing your pan.
19. Continue rolling until all of the muffin cups have crusts.
20. Evenly divide the ham and cheese between the muffin cups.
21. Spoon the egg mixture into the cups.
Tip: You want the cups to be not quite full to the top.
Note: The egg will expand as it cooks and you want the egg to be set enough—by the time it reaches the top of the cup—that it does not to spill out and burn.
22. Bake the mini quiches at 350 F for 25-30 minutes, until the crusts are done and the egg is firmly set.
23. Let the quiches cool in the pan for 2-3 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool.