Bake

Spinach Quiche

April  5, 2020
Photo by TY MECHAM. PROP STYLIST: SOPHIE STRANGIO. FOOD STYLIST: ANNA BILLINGSKOG.
Author Notes

Last year, the test kitchen developed a recipe for Our Best Quiche. We obsessed over many details—like keeping the fat cold for a flaky crust, pinpointing the number of eggs for a silky custard, and leaving it open-ended to whatever mix-ins you want. If I do say so myself, we nailed it, and so I’m using that best template as a starting point for one of my favorite quiches in all the land: spinach and cheese.

But first, let’s talk about that crust. Half of the flour is white whole-wheat, which has a nutty-grainy flavor that gets along great with mineraly greens. (If you don’t have white whole-wheat, feel free to swap in standard whole-wheat or stick to the all-purpose.) Just don’t skip the seasoning, namely the black pepper—it underlines that this is a savory, not sweet, pie, and balances out the richness. In addition to the usual butter, the crust includes cream cheese, too (a rugelach-like trick I learned from Rose Levy Beranbaum). Sealing the crust with an egg white gets ahead of a soggy bottom (not to mention, we have an extra egg white anyway since the custard calls for an egg yolk).

Speaking of richness: We have four (yep, four) kinds of dairy here—tenderness-ensuring cream cheese and flakiness-inspiring butter in the crust, and rich half-and-half and tangy-melty Gruyère in the filling. If you’re more likely to have cream and milk around, just replace the quantity of half-and-half with ½ cup plus ⅓ cup heavy cream and ½ cup plus ⅓ cup whole milk. The Gruyère is also flexible. While I love its earthy, tangy flavor, sharp cheddar and Comté are up for the job, too. Incorporating a smidgen of flour into the custard lowers your odds of it curdling, even if you leave it in the oven a few minutes too long.

It’s worth noting that this recipe is a project, but one that you can break up in many ways: You can refrigerate the disc of dough for up to a couple days or freeze for up to a month; or, line and can crimp the dough into the pie pan and freeze that for up to a couple days (or up to a month if well wrapped). You can also prepare and refrigerate the custard for up to a couple days.

Like any quiche, this shouldn’t be served hot, right out of the oven (the custard needs a chance to set and gather itself). This is at its best warm, room-temperature, or cold. Add in a dressed salad, and you’ve got dinner. Or breakfast or lunch or brunch. —Emma Laperruque

  • Prep time 3 hours
  • Cook time 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Makes 1 (9-inch) pie
Ingredients
  • Crust
  • 2/3 cup (84 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup (79 grams) white whole-wheat flour (see Author Notes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, very cold, cubed
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cubed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water, very cold
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large egg white
  • Filling
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 (6-ounce) yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 2/3 cups half-and-half (see Author Notes)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Make the crust: Combine the flours, salt, black pepper, and baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low just to combine. Add the cream cheese and mix on low until the cream cheese is mostly broken-down. Add the butter and mix on low until mostly incorporated and none of the pieces are bigger than a chickpea; this should take 30 seconds to 1 minute (if there are any stragglers, just stop the machine and smush the piece with your fingertips—don’t overmix). Combine the water and vinegar in a small glass and, with the machine on low, pour in. As soon as the sides of the bowl are no longer dusty and clumps and curds begin to form (it should not form a cohesive ball—that’s too far), turn the mixer off; better to undermix versus overmix at this point. Remove the bowl and bring the dough into a ball with your hands. Wrap well with plastic or a reusable wrap and form into a flat disc. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to a couple days. (You can also freeze the dough for future quiches; just thaw in the fridge overnight.)
  2. Roll out and crimp the crust: On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch or so circle, then transfer to a 9-inch pie pan (not deep-dish), making sure the bottom corners are tightly pressed against the pan. If needed, use scissors to trim the dough to an even 1-inch overhang. Fold the edge under itself. Use your fingers to press and even out the sides, making sure the bottom corners are tightly pressed against the pan. Crimp the edges however you’d like (I like using my left hand’s thumb and pointer finger as a guide, then poking in with my right hand’s pointer finger, to form ruffles). Stick in the freezer for at least 15 minutes, until firm, or up to 2 days.
  3. Parbake the crust: Heat the oven to 400°F. Line the frozen crust with a square of parchment, fill with dried beans (or another pie weight), then set on a sheet pan. Bake on the lower rack for about 40 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the crust is starting to brown along the edges and the bottom no longer looks raw and doughy.
  4. While the crust is parbaking, cook the spinach filling: Set a large skillet over medium to medium-low heat, then add the olive oil. When that’s hot, add the onion and a small pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onion is soft and mostly transparent. Stir in the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add as much spinach as will fit and stir, adding more spinach as soon as there’s space. Cook the spinach until it’s just wilted, then season with another small pinch of salt. Transfer everything to a plate to cool down.
  5. When the crust comes out of the oven, use a fork to whisk the egg white with a tiny pinch of salt until it’s loose. Remove the parchment and pie weights, brush the inside of the crust with the salted egg white, then return to the oven to bake for another minute to set.
  6. Remove the parbaked crust from the oven to cool and lower the oven to 325°F.
  7. While the oven is getting to temperature, make the custard: Add the half-and-half to a big bowl. Add the flour to another, smaller bowl, and add a splash (figure, 1 tablespoon or so) of the half-and-half. Stir with a fork or whisk until smooth. Repeat this (splash, stir, splash, stir) until the flour mixture is completely smooth and pourable. Pour into the bigger bowl with the half-and-half and stir to combine. Add the eggs, egg yolk, salt, and pepper, and whisk until smooth.
  8. Fill the quiche: With the pie pan still on the sheet pan, sprinkle half of the cheese evenly over the bottom of the crust. Sprinkle the spinach mixture on top, spreading it out as much as possible (even scooching up the sides is fine), so that you can see the cheese and crust below. There should not be a packed-solid layer of mix-ins; the custard filling needs to be able to get through. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Slowly and evenly pour in custard—you should use all of it and the pan will be very full.
  9. Bake the quiche for 55 to 65 minutes, or until it no longer shimmies when shaken. (If the crust starts to brown too much mid-bake, you can carefully tent it with foil.) Let cool until warm before serving. It’s also great at room temperature and cold.

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Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.