Challenge No. 32 – Leek and Gruyere Quiche

My friend Rachel suggested this challenge for Challenge 52.  I’ve already made two other of Rachel’s suggestions in Challenge No. 20 (Gammon) and Challenge No. 11 (Chocolate Ganache & Cherry Tart).  Rachel decided to challenge me to another pastry dish but this time a savoury leek and gruyere quiche. 

I had a quick search online for a recipe and most of the ones I found used cups as a measurement.  Those of you who have been following MyGastroAdventure from the beginning will have learned that I don’t like recipes in cups! However, I struggled to find a recipe I liked to look of, with the right ingredients, and the right types of measurements.  So in the end I settled for a conversion of this recipe for a bacon, leek and gruyere quiche.  Also quite a nice touch that the recipe bio makes reference to the inspiration for my blog, Julia & Julia 🙂

The recipe makes two quiches, however, Dave doesn’t like quiche so I thought it would be best to make just one and take it into work for my colleagues.  To make the quiche, you will need the following ingredients:-

  • Crust
    • 160g plain flour, plus more for dusting
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 140g unsalted butter, cubed
    • 1/2 large egg yolk*
    • 52ml ice water
  • Filling
    • 226g thickly sliced bacon, cut into squares
    • 2 medium leeks, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
    • 1/2 tsp chopped thyme leaves
    • Salt and pepper
    • 114g Gruyère cheese, grated
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 large egg yolks
    • 427ml double cream

*I know! I know! 1/2 an egg yolk is not easy but that’s what half the recipe meant.  All I did was put my yolk in a small jug and then used a teaspoon to take out approximately half.

Edited - ingredients

I started by putting my flour, salt and chilled butter into my food processor.  I blitzed it together until it resembled breadcrumbs.

Edited - butter and flour Edited - breadcrumbs

I then added the egg yolk and water and pulsed until the mixture started to come together.  It was then time to get my hands dirty.  I floured my worktop and tipped the dough out to work together with my hands. 

Edited - unworked dough

I kneaded it together until smooth, shaped it into a disk and then wrapped it in cling film to chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.  I realised after 10 minutes that my fridge wasn’t particularly cold so I turned it down slightly and given that it was a hot evening, I decided to leave the pastry dough for a total of 30 minutes.

Edited - smooth ball

After the 30 minutes were up, I floured my worktop again, floured my rolling pin and started rolling the dough until it was slightly bigger than the base of my tin.

Edited - rolled out

I greased the tin with a little butter and carefully lifted the pastry in.  Now when I made the ganache tart, my research indicated that the tin should be greased.  However, when I finished with this bake, I thought the base was a bit soft and I wondered if this was because of the extra butter used to grease the tin (as well as a bit of overspill on the filling!).  I’ve done a bit more research and its indicated that when using a shortcrust, you don’t need to grease the tin as there is enough butter in the pastry itself.  Next time, I’ll give this a try and see what happens.

Anyway, with my pastry in the tin, I trimmed and neatened up the edges.  I then set about putting in my baking rice (I don’t have beads so just use rice which I keep in a separate bit of tupperware in my baking cupboard).  The recipe says to line the pastry with foil, however, I remember watching a Celebrity Great British Bake Off where one of the contestants used foil and it stuck to the pastry.  So to avoid a potential disaster, I stuck to what I knew and used baking paper.

Edited - lined tin Edited - trimmed Edited - rice

I then popped the tin into the oven on 190 degrees celsius for 30 minutes.  When the timer went off, I removed the rice and baking paper and popped the tin back in the oven for another 15 minutes.

Whilst the pastry was finishing up in the oven, I got started on the filling.  I heated up my frying pan and then added the bacon slices to cook over a medium heat.  I kept string until they were cooked through.

Edited - bacon

Now this next bit, I deviated from the recipe slightly! It wasn’t on purpose, I just misread it.  The recipe said to “drain the bacon, leaving 1 tablespoon of the fat in the pan”.  I read this to mean, drain off the fat, leaving the bacon and 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan.  What it actually meant was to take the bacon out of of the pan.  Anyway, I’d added my leek and thyme to the bacon, seasoned it with salt and pepper and let it cook for around 5 minutes until softened.  Once it was cooked, I popped the leek and bacon mixture into a bowl to cool.

Edited - leek and bacon

When the pastry was cooked, I put the tin onto a baking tray and left everything to cool whilst I made mine and Dave’s dinner.

Edited - cooked pastry

After we were fed and watered, I carried on with the quiche.  I added the grated cheese to the leek and bacon, mixed it all together and then put it in the pastry case. It was very full!!! So I decided to pull out some of the leek slices, leaving the yummy bacon and cheese.  I’m not sure it really made any difference but I felt like I had at least done something 🙂

Edited - filling in

I then poured the cream into a jug, added the eggs and egg white before whisking with a balloon whisk.  I didn’t really know what I was doing here so I just whisked it until everything was well combined.  I transferred the mixture into a jug and carefully poured it over the quiche filling.

Practial tip: don’t overfill the pastry case.  If the mixture spills over the edge, you’ll end up with a soggy bottom.

So, in light of the tip above, at this point, I kept repeating to myself “don’t overfill it! don’t overfill it!”  and what did I do? Yep, I overfilled it 😦  I actually only used half of the cream and egg mixture too!

Edited - oven ready

Anyway, I popped the (overfilled) quiche into the oven on 190 degrees celsius for 30 minutes to cook through.  I took the quiche out of the oven and popped it onto a cooking rack for 15 minutes. I then removed the ring, leaving the quiche on the base of the tin. I wasn’t sure whether I should remove the base as well but because the filling had spilled over, I thought it best to leave the quiche on a sturdy base.

Edited - ready

Once cooled enough, I popped the quiche in the fridge overnight before chopping it up to take to work the next day.

Edited - slice

Edited - served upEveryone said the quiche was very nice.  Despite my warnings of the notorious soggy bottom (Mary Berry would not have been happy), they all said it was good and that the bottom wasn’t that soggy.  One person even described it as crisp! I have to admit the base wasn’t as soggy as I thought it would be but there was clear room for improvement, in my mind at least.  Although, perhaps I am my own worst critic.

Despite the questionable base, I have to admit this quiche was yummy! I definitely want to make it again and see if I can perfect the base and filling ratios.

Coming up next week, Challenge No. 33 – custard slices.

Challenge No. 31 – Battenberg

On the week that Great British Bake Off returns to our TV’s, this seemed like the perfect challenge for me to make.  I’m so excited to see what’s in store for this year’s contestants and to get lots of inspiration for future bakes 🙂 We’re even having our own bake-off at work.  We each have a contestant and the week the contestant goes out the competition, you have to make a cake for the office.  I’ve got to get my thinking cap on so I can make a great cake and I’m hoping my contestant (Paul) does well! I’ll be sure to post a picture of my cake when he goes out or (hopefully) wins!

For now though, it’s back to Challenge 52 and my first attempt at battenberg.  This challenge was suggested by my colleague Dean.  Unfortunately, I messed up my planning a little bit and have made this challenge on a week when Dean is on holiday! I sent him a message to apologies and his love of battenberg is so strong that he told me my P45 was in the post! Thankfully he was only kidding but I’ve still promised to make it again for him in the near future.  Luckily it turned out to be really yummy so I’m more than happy to make some more (as it means I get to eat some too!) 🙂

For this challenge, I decided to make everything from scrap, so I spent Sunday making apricot jam, marzipan and the sponges before putting it all together to make a beautiful battenberg treat.  I used one recipe for the jam and another for the battenberg.  I then adapted the recipe from Challenge 15 Simnel Cake for the marzipan.

Obviously you could use shop bought jam and marzipan but if you fancy a go at making the full shebang, you’ll need the following ingredients:-

  • Jam
    • 500g apricots, halved and stoned
    • juice of half a lemon
    • 250ml water
    • 500g caster sugar
    • Small knob of butter
  • Marzipan
    • 112 g icing sugar
    • 87g caster sugar
    • 175g ground almonds
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/4 tsp almond extract
    • 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Cake
    • 175g butter
    • 175g caster sugar
    • 175g self raising flour
    • 3 large eggs
    • 65g ground almonds
    • 3/4 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/4 tsp almond extract
    • Pink/red food colouring

Edited - ingredients

I started off by making the jam.  The recipe will make far more than you need for the battenberg (I filled one large jar and one small jar) but it tastes so yummy and will keep in the sterilised jars, it doesn’t matter.

I washed the chopped apricots and then put them in a large pan with the lemon juice and water.  I put the pan over a low heat and slowly brought the liquid up to a simmer.

Edited - chopped fruit Edited - jam pre sugar

Practical tip: when juicing a lemon, pop it in the microwave for around 30 seconds to warm it slightly as this will help release more juice. 

Once the liquid was simmering (careful not to boil it at this stage!) I set the timer for 15 minutes and waited patiently.  When the timer went off, I took the pan off the heat, poured in the caster sugar and stirred until this was fully dissolved.  I then added the butter, returned the pan to the heat and turned up the temperature slightly. 

Edited - butter in jam

Once the mixture was boiling I set the timer for another 15 minutes and put a small plate in the fridge to chill.

When the 15 minutes was up, I used a teaspoon to put a small amount of the jam on the chilled plate.  I waiting 1 minute and used my finger to push the jam.  It was still a little runny so I left the pan bubbling for another 4 minutes.  I then tested it again and decided it was practically there.  I put the jam into my sterilised, hot jars and put the lids straight on.  I also put a little jam into some tupperwear to use for the battenberg so I could keep the jars sealed for another day.

With the jam done, I got started on the marzipan.  I sifted the icing sugar into a bowl and added the caster sugar and ground almonds. I mixed it all together and then made a well in the centre.   

I put the egg, almond extract and lemon juice into a jug.  I then poured it into the well in the dry ingredients and started to bring it all together with a spoon.  It then reached the point where I needed to get my hands dirty and I finished mixing it by hand until I had a ball of paste.

Edited - marzipan

I dusted my worktop with icing sugar and kneaded the ball of marzipan until smooth.  As mentioned above, I used this marzipan recipe when I made my Simnel cake and at this point the marzipan kept sticking to the worktop.  This time round I used a little more icing sugar when I dusted the worktop and I didn’t have the problem of it sticking 🙂

I put the marzipan ball into a bowl (dusted with icing sugar) and covered it with cling film.

Edited - resting marzipan

Whilst the marzipan was resting for 2 hours, I got started on the cake.  The recipe uses the all in one method. So I started by putting the caster sugar, flour, ground almonds and baking powder into my bowl.  I added the softened butter, the eggs and vanilla and almond extract.  I gave it a quick mix with a wooden spoon to start bringing it together and then finished the job with my handheld electric mixer until combined.

Edited - cake mix

I then separated the mixture into two separate bowls; using the scales to try and make sure it was roughly even.  I added some food colouring to one of the bowls and mixed until the colour was even throughout.  In hindsight I should have added a touch more colouring as my pink cake was not very pink but its one to remember for next time.

I don’t have a battenberg cake tin so I followed the recipe to separate my 20cm tin into two halves.  A bit of foil, some baking paper, some special folds and I was done.  It wasn’t as neat as I’d have liked and my sponge ended up a bit wonky but because I had to trim it down anyway, I wasn’t too worried.

Edited - tin

I put the different coloured mixtures into each side of the tin and popped it in the oven on 180 degrees celsius for 20 minutes.  I then checked the cake and left it in for approximately another 7 minutes.

Edited - ready to bake

Once the cake was cooked, I left it in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

Edited - cooked cake

I waited until the cake was completed cool before trimming it into 4 equal oblongs. 

Practical tip: be sure to trim off the top, bottom and sides of the cakes before cutting in half lengthways. 

I then started to roll out my marzipan.  I positioned the slices of cake together to check whether I had rolled it big enough and had to make it a little longer.

Edited - rolled marzipan

Practical tip: put the marzipan between two pieces of baking parchment to roll it out.  This stops it from sticking to the worktop or your rolling pin but also means you won’t risk ruining the texture by adding more icing sugar.

I them heated up some of my jam and started to put it all together.  The recipe says to push it through a sieve but I decided not to do this as I didn’t think it was all that necessary.  I brushed the sides of my cake slices and put them together in a chequered pattern.

Edited - jam on sponge

I put the cake onto the marzipan and rolled it over to cover.  I used my fingers to gentle press the join together.  I trimmed the edges and used the back of a knife to score a pattern into the top.

Edited - side2 Edited - done Edited - side

And there it is, my first ever battenberg. Oh my gosh was this delicious! I love cake, jam and marzipan…put them together and it’s like heaven on a plate.  A good cup of tea and a slice of Battenberg; definitely the best of British 🙂

Edited - slice

Coming up next week, Challenge No. 32 – leek and gruyere quiche. Hope to see you then.


Challenge No. 30 – Fig and Goats Cheese Tart

This dish was suggested by a family friend.  I’ve known Debbie ever since her daughter and I went to primary school and ballet class together.  I’ve never eaten a fig before but I love goats cheese so was quite excited to make (and eat!) this challenge.

I had a quick search online and found this recipe for fig, goats cheese and caramelised onion tarts.  The tarts are made with filo pastry sheets.   Whilst Challenge 52 is all about taking me out of my kitchen comfort zone, I decided to listen to my baking hero Mary Berry for this one.  I remember watching one of her programmes and whilst Mary Berry once made filo pastry as part of her training, she actually encourages home cooks to use shop bought ready made pastry. And who am I to ignore advice from Mary Berry? 🙂

So for this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:-

  • Filo pastry sheets
  • 1 Onion
  • 2tbsp light muscovado sugar
  • 1tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 55g Goats’ cheese
  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 3 Figs Fresh
  • Honey for drizzling

Edited - ingredients

The recipe on the BakingMad website actually used 2tbsp of dark muscovado sugar and no balsamic vinegar.   However, when I went to get my sugar out the cupboard I realised I only had light muscavado sugar.  After a bit of research, I discovered that you can get the same caramelised effect by adding a tbsp of balsamic vinegar to 2tbsp of light muscavado sugar and this is what I did.

I started by preparing my onion.  I cut it in half and then sliced it at thinly as possible.

Edited - onions

I melted two knobs of butter in my frying pan and then added the muscavado sugar and balsamic vinegar.  Once the butter was fully melted, I added the sliced onion and fried them on a medium heat for about 20 minutes.

Edited - onions cooking Edited - onions

Whilst the onion was cooking, I prepared my muffin tin.  I greased each hole with some butter and then made some little baking parchment squares to insert into each one.  I cut the baking parchment into the following shape:-

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 20.51.43

Edited - prepared tin

Practical tip: these little inserts help to remove the cooked tarts without breaking the delicate pastry 🙂

I then melted the remaining butter and started to make the pastry shells.  I took my pastry sheets and decided to cut 12cm squares to line the tin.  The recipe said to cut them into 6cm squares but these looked to small.  I brushed the top of each square with melted butter, doubled it up with another square and pushed the two into a hole in the prepared tin.

Edited - pastry in the tin

I put the pastry cases into the oven on 180 degrees celsius for 5 minutes to brown them slightly. 

Edited - part cooked

With the pasty part cooked, I put a teaspoon of caramelised onion into each one and topped it with some goats cheese.  I then returned the tarts to the oven until the cheese was melted.  This actually took longer than I was expecting, probably around 7 to 10 minutes.

Edited - cheese in the tin

I sliced the figs and topped the cooked tarts with a portion each before drizzling them with a little honey.

Edited - served up

These were delicious.  They weren’t quite as small and dainty as I thought they would be (probably because I used 12cm squares of pastry) but they sure did taste nice.

Coming up next week, Challenge No. 31 – battenberg.