Tartine’s Quiche, Homemade Crème Fraîche & A Little Trip to Napa & Bouchon

Tartine Quiche

The weekend would begin with quiche. That was a given. My friend would pick me up at the San Francisco airport and before beginning our journey north, we would stop for breakfast. For quiche, that is. I have been dreaming about the Tartine quiche for over a year now, since my last and only other visit to this most adored San Francisco cafe.

The much anticipated weekend arrived, and I found myself at Tartine with two dear friends standing in a line stretching around the corner. As we waited, we contemplated our order, which quickly became apparent would be a feast. None of us was prepared to make a difficult decision this morning, so we decided to keep things simple — we would order everything. Or nearly everything: Quiche. Croque monsieur. Morning Bun. Scone. Croissant. Almond Croissant. Bread Pudding.

The quiche with ham and Swiss chard, my friends confirmed, lived up to every expectation I had created for them. The bread pudding with fresh peaches, too, and the croque monsieur with heirloom tomatoes and Gruyère similarly blew us away. It’s rare for a restaurant to offer an across-the-board spread of so many delectables, but it seems that’s just how Tartine rolls. 

So, what separates Tartine’s quiche from others? Well, I have a few ideas, thanks to the Tartine cookbook, which so generously has provided a dead-on recipe. Seriously. I followed the recipe to a T and recreated, what I believe, is the most delicious quiche on the planet. 

1. The custard ingredients/ratio. I suspect this is the primary reason why Tartine’s quiche is so fabulous. Tartine uses a ratio of 1 cup crème fraîche to 1 cup whole milk to 5 eggs. The mixing method is also interesting — one egg is whisked with 3 T. of flour until smooth. Then the remaining eggs are whisked in. Then the egg mixture is strained over the crème fraîche-milk mixture. Sound fussy? Well, it sort of is. But it’s so worth it. I wouldn’t recommend straying from the recipe or taking any shortcuts in any way.

When I made this at home, I, for the first time ever, made my own crème fraîche, which was so much fun — it’s crazy  to see heavy cream transform into a thick, tangy mass of goodness. Making crème fraîche is easy: Mix 2 tablespoons of buttermilk (or 2 tablespoons of yogurt) with 2 cups of heavy cream. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. Stir and then store until ready to use.

2. The flaky tart shell is delectable. There is nothing unusual about the Tartine recipe — flour, salt, ice water and lots of cold butter. Blindbaking the shell for about 30 minutes ensures a crisp, perfectly browned crust.

3. Tartine uses uncooked greens. For whatever reason, I have been in the habit of quickly sauteéing any type of green before adding it to a quiche, but Tartine recommends otherwise. The recipe calls for 1 cup of uncooked roughly chopped greens. This is the only step where I strayed a tad — I added more like 2-3 cups of roughly chopped Swiss chard.

The Tartine quiche has completely changed my perception of this classic dish. The texture of the Tartine quiche, which has not an ounce of cheese, is truly a beautiful thing. Prior to tasting Tartine’s, quiche for me was all about the fillers — onions, bacon, cheese, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, whatever. Now, it’s about the custard, the light, creamy, custard. 

I must admit that making this quiche is no simple task. That said, if you have the tart dough made in advance (which I do now since the tart dough recipe yields enough for two 10-inch quiches) and if you have the crème fraîche made in advance (or are using store bought), making this quiche isn’t such a process. It’s also just a matter of getting familiar with the process. 

Tartine Quiche

Clockwise from top left: Quiche shell, lined with parchment paper, ready to be blind-baked. Filled quiche shell ready for the oven. Baked quiche. Baked quiche up close. 

Quiche

Next on my recipes to tackle in the Tartine cookbook is bread pudding made with homemade brioche bread. Before we head there, however, I just want to share a few highlights of my trip to Napa:

Wine tasting at Cakebread Cellars in Napa Valley. Grapes at Cakebread:

Grapes

Wine tasting at Hendry’s Winery in Napa. The tasting table at Hendry’s:

Tasting Table at Hendry's Vineyard

Eating macaroons at Bouchon in Yountville. Incredibly delicious.

Bouchon Macarons

Visiting Bouchon altogher. Here we sampled TKOs (Thomas Keller Oreos), chocolate bouchons, macaroons, croissants, almond croissants, ham and cheese sandwiches, epi baguettes and quiche. The spread, pictured at the very bottom, was remarkable. 

Bouchon

Quiche with Crème Fraîche and Swiss Chard
Source: Tartine (Chronicle Books, 2006)
Serves 6 to 8

Flaky Tart Dough
Yield = 2 10-inch tart or pie shells

1 tsp. salt (I used table salt)
2/3 cup ice water
3 cups + 2 T. all-purpose flour (1 lb.)
1 cup + 5 T. unsalted butter, very cold

1. In a small bowl, add the salt to the water and stir to dissolve. Keep cold until ready to use.

2. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into 1-inch (or smaller) pieces and scatter the pieces over the flour. Using a pastry blender or two knives or two forks, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture forms large clumps and the butter is in pieces the size of small peas. Drizzle the water-salt mixture over the flour and stir and toss with a fork until the dough comes together in a shaggy mass. Gently mix until the dough comes together into a ball but is not completely smooth.

3. On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into 2 equal balls and shape each ball into a disk 1-inch thick. Wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

4. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

5. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to 1/8-inch thick, rolling from the center toward the edge in all directions. (Lift and rotate the dough a quarter turn every few strokes to prevent sticking, and work quickly to prevent the dough from becoming warm.) Transfer the round to the pie dish, easing it into the corners. Trim excess dough.

6. Cut a piece of parchment paper large enough to fit over the pie plate generously. Fill parchment paper with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the surface looks light brown. Remove from oven and remove the weights and paper. Return the shell to the oven and bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes longer. Cool shell on wire rack until ready to fill.

Quiche with Swiss Chard and Crème Fraîche

1 fully baked 10-inch Flaky Tart Shell Dough (recipe above)
5 large eggs
3 T. all-purpose flour
1 cup crème fraîche*
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 T. fresh thyme, finely chopped (I didn’t have thyme so I used chives)
1 cup uncooked coarsely chopped Swiss Chard (I used more like 2 or 3 cups)

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

2. Place 1 egg and the flour in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the remaining 4 eggs until blended.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk the crème fraîche until smooth. Whisk in the milk. Pour the egg mixture through a fine mesh sieve held over the milk mixture. Whisk in the salt, pepper and thyme (or other herb). Stir in the chard.

4. Pour the egg mixture into the pastry shell. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325ºF and bake until the filling is just set, about 30 minutes longer. The center of the quiche should still feel slightly firm, rather than liquidy, when touched. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes to allow the custard to set up, so that it will slice neatly. It can be served warm or at room temperature. To serve a fully cooled quiche warm, cover it with aluminum foil and reheat it in a 325ºF for about 15 minutes.

* To make crème fraîche, place 2 cups heavy cream in bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of yogurt or 2 tablespoons of buttermilk. Stir to combine. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. Stir. Mixture will be nice and thick. Store in the fridge until ready to use. Note: Try to use good heavy cream and not ultra-pasteurized if possible — I used to have no trouble making crème fraîche, but recently I have found that it takes an especially long time for the cream to thicken. If you find that after 12 hours the cream does not look thick at all, add a few more tablespoons of buttermilk or yogurt to the mixture.

Bouchon Spread

Comments

  1. says

    methinks i’d like to follow in your san francisco footsteps and sample all of what you ate–what an excursion! that quiche looks and sounds spectacular, especially the crust, which is far and away the most important part for me. terrific tips!

  2. says

    All of my Napa favorites! And creme fraiche in quiche? Wicked! That’s where the last of my Swiss chard in the garden is going to go, thanks! And Cakebread is a fave too, we somehow wound up in their wine club after multiple samples…expensive! Their newsletter for club members, though, had great recipes. Maybe they are on their website? Thanks for the great pictures and Napa visit-by-proxie.

  3. says

    I haven’t had quiche in so long! Le sigh.

    Pumble hasn’t eaten a whole pan of brownies, though he is very glad you mentioned it. He plans to indulge this afternoon.

  4. says

    Oh my. Those macarons are huge!

    Looks like you had a wonderful trip… I’m jealous. It’s good to hear that you were able to recreate the quiche at home. It looks fabulous!

  5. says

    Your blog is just so beautiful! This quiche sounds fantastic. I moved to the Bay Area about 8 months ago and I have yet to go to Tartine. Maybe that’ll change this weekend.

  6. says

    I’m going to San Francisco at the end of September and I will get to Tartine if it kills me! I have the cookbook but haven’t attempted the quiche yet. You make a very convincing argument that I need to remedy that asap.

  7. says

    Droooool. Everything looks amazing. I am so wanting to go all these places. I need to make macarons when I get home. THese look big. Hmmm. And I know your quiche is in my future! Thanks for sharing Ali!

  8. says

    Ahh Tartine. At least once a week I thank the stars that I am only a BART ride away. Never have had anything from that place that didn’t make me wish I bought two. And the cookbook- wow- the precise instructions and side notes are extremely helpful. Bar Tartine restaurant is my fav too

  9. says

    I just stumbled upon your website & I absolutely LOVE IT!!! I’m druling as I type…I recently started a cooking blog of my own, and I’d love to add you to my list of faves if that’s ok? Let me know ;)

  10. Renee says

    I made the quiche for dinner tonight and it is incredible!! SO GOOD!! I love it and can’t wait to eat more tomorrow for breakfast. I used a little chopped leek in place of the dill. It was so good. The best quiche I have ever made. Thank you!!

  11. peabody says

    It must be me..or my cooking..but I was not impressed. I found the pastry overly buttery and the custard dense and cloying. Where did I go wrong? Perhaps it’s just a personal preference, but I like my quiche to be light and airy, balanced by a bit of crust. I had such high hopes. I should add that the uncooked Swiss chard and the thyme is a ingeniously delicious combo though.

    • says

      This is so disappointing to hear! I have to say, I have not made the pastry in a while — I’ve gotten lazy — and could maybe see it being too buttery for some people. But I am really surprised about the custard. I make crustless quiche probably once a week using this recipe, and it is always so light and fluffy and airy. That’s why I love it so much. I don’t know what could have happened, but if you feel like giving the recipe a stab again (totally understand if you don’t) try making it crustless (much less work — I use the same cooking times) and if you buy the crème fraiche (as opposed to making it) the dish comes together in no time. Let me know if you give it a go again, and if things still don’t work out, well then I am SO sorry! I’m glad at the very least you like the uncooked Swiss chard and thyme.

  12. Nancy Studebaker says

    SUBLIME. SIMPLY THE BEST!

    I had a baby shower for my daughter, and made about 30 indivividuals of this.

    But only after much experimenting, googling, researching, the PERFECT QUICHE! This is it!!!!

    I used Swiss Chard, bacon, and a sprinkle of Gruyere (or Swiss) cheese on top. My mouth waters just thinking about it, and I am sending many of my friends this website so they can make it themselves!

    Thanks, Alexandra!

  13. April says

    This was so. so. so. good. I’ve tried a few quiche recipes, and they were good, but not as good as this! It was so light and fluffy. I tried to convince my kids it was gross and they didn’t want any, but they don’t believe that line. I used spinach from my garden (Bloomsdale spinach, it has a different texture than grocery store spinach. It’s not gritty). Next time I might experiment with the flavors more. I love roasted garlic, carmelized onions, or asparagus. Mushrooms, ham, bacon, all kinds of things. I did use a different crust recipe bc I’m 33 weeks pregnant with #6, and I just didn’t have the energy. I used this recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/quick-n-easy-quiche-crust-18185. It says not for prebaking, but I parbaked it at 350 for 20 minutes before adding the quiche mixture. It worked great! And it’s so much easier than a traditional crust. I’ve used this one several times, even to top a cobbler (though for rolling out it is not ideal bc it’s not dry enough. I did it on a silpat and just flipped it over on top and peeled the silpat off). I do plan to try your crust bc in my opinion, a crust can’t be too buttery :) Thanks for sharing! And next time I get to SF, I am going straight to Tartine. Is the cookbook worth getting? Are all of the recipes amazing? I got the cookbook from Balthazar’s in NYC and it is wonderful. It’s our favorite breakfast place.

    • says

      April — I’m so happy to hear this! Do you happen to live in CA? The only reason I ask is bc the chef at the cafe where I worked for a bit always bought Bloomsdale spinach, and I had never heard of it before living in CA. I love all of the different flavors you mentioned, and imagine they would all make lovely additions to this custard. And, wow, baby #6, I am so impressed. I am also pregnant, about 35 weeks now, but with #3, and I feel you on the energy level. I almost always just make a crustless quiche because I can’t find the time to make the crust, but I love the sound of the one you made. I will give that one a go next time around.

      As for the Tartine cookbook, I love it, but I’ve only made a couple of the recipes, the quiche, the bread pudding (which I’ve blogged about), the scones (also on the blog and one of my favorite recipes), and the devils food cake (which turned out so-so for me, but that’s not to say the recipe is bad.) The cookbook is beautifully photographed and thoughtfully written — every recipe has detailed instructions almost to the point that it’s intimidating because it makes each recipe feel so long. It’s definitely not a quick-and-easy book. I’ve been wanting to make their tres leches cake for years, but every time I open the recipe, I get turned off, because it requires making about 4 separate components, which I’m sure makes the finished cake completely delicious, but it’s also a little daunting. I do love just having the cookbook, however, because I love flipping through it and reading the kitchen notes, which are always really informative. I hope that helps. Wish I could let you borrow mine for a bit!

  14. says

    I actually live in Utah now, which is exactly the opposite of California :) We moved here from Atlanta. I heard about Bloomsdale spinach here, but we moved just as I was getting into heirloom varieties of produce for my garden. People especially like it because it is more heat tolerant than other varieties and slower to bolt. I also really like the texture. That crust is really supremely easy and takes less than 5 minutes and only 1 bowl. I forgot to mention that I also didn’t strain my egg/flour mixture, and it was still really wonderful. I’ll have to double the recipe next time bc my kids devoured it. Have you ever frozen it?

    Congrats on #3! This is our last baby, and we are excited to meet her! I’ve let a lot of things slide this pregnancy. I haven’t been making bread or yogurt or pizza on Fridays. I’m just so….bleh. You understand. Last week I bought tortillas for the first time in years. And they were gross. My kids don’t even remember eating a store bought tortilla until now. I haven’t even hardly been blogging or anything. My husband loves tres leeches cake, but I’ve never made it. That recipe sounds like a birthday occasion for that much work! Of course, I’ve never been a big sweets eater, so for me it’s not much of a drive to make stuff like that.

    • says

      April — I really loved the texture of the Bloomsdale spinach, too, and I’m wondering if maybe I could grow it here — VA is so hot in the summer.

      I have been wondering if straining is necessary — it always seems like an extra step. Next time I’m skipping it. I have not tried freezing the quiche, but that is something else that would be nice to know. It would be especially nice to know for a baby shower sort of occasion in the form of mini quiches for hors d’oeuvres or small plates.

      I can’t imagine how you have managed to do all that you do with 5 children and one on the way! I have never made yogurt, but have heard good things, and I haven’t made a pizza in ages, which is sad, because when I get into a rhythm, it seems so easy, but it’s so hard to get back into that routine … bleh is right. Well, congrats to you too, and I will be thinking of you next month!

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