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Every last bit I could


This was the leftover. The stand in, the understudy that usually never gets the spotlight. I made two tarts, one with a pretty, fluted edge, the other roughly, haphazardly patched together with the remaining scraps of dough.

This was, to reiterate, the latter. The afterthought.

Yet, I'm fond of it. I'd even say that its imperfection is its charm. Its saved grace is really through no talent of mine, but rather owed to the recipe for the crust. It's the Whole Wheat Pastry Dough from the book The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread (Wiley, 2008), and it's one to keep handy. My quiche thanks my friend for sending it in my direction.

I'll interrupt myself for a moment, as I can't make, eat, or even consider quiches without mention of her remembrance, that the introduction of quiches and tarts into my life is something I want to attribute to an aunt of mine. The instinct is possibly incorrect, but she has the nostalgic credit.

She wasn't an aunt by blood, but by friendship, one of those people in your life that was simply there, from the very beginning. A thought of her brings the smell of Yardley's English Rose perfume, the particular accent of her voice, and the time she let me dictate from memory a recipe for double chocolate cookies. By that I mean, I was five years old and most assuredly making it up as I went along, but she made the biscuits just as I said, and even pretended them a triumph, even though they were stuck irrevocably to the pan.

That aunt, she made quiches. Sausage rolls too, and we'll get there someday. Her quiches were always the same, or at least in my memory they were, eggs and cream with bacon. Nothing fancy. We'd eat them cold, straight out of the fridge or soon after. Then there would be tea, and maybe a butter biscuit from the navy tin she kept on the kitchen table.

So when I made our lunch, there was bacon involved, with thin rounds of squash and a sweet tangle of shallot, some grated Parmesan for resonant salinity to balance the lull of cream and egg, all poured into a whole wheat crust. We're back to that.

This pastry, unlike those cookies, is an actual triumph; heavy with butter, granted a freshness from cream cheese well matched to the whole wheat flour's gentle nuttiness. The dough goes supple and is quite forgiving as it's worked, which was, beyond my frugality, one of the reasons I thought to cobble together the scraps and use every last bit I could. 

I'm glad I did, because after lunch I found myself chasing the last of the crumbs off my plate with the tines of my fork. Plucking up those evasive fragments with the tips of my fingers as needed. The pastry is afternoon-nap-dream-worthy, the kind I think the best of dreams, as this is one of the best of pastries. I liked it for its subtlety and substance, for its structure of alternating tender and crisp. I liked how it baked up golden with speckles of brown still visible. 

It's a good dough to know. 



A few newsy things to pass along, while we're chatting:

A piece I did for, on cakes and decorating. It was such fun to do, and I hope you enjoy it.

I'm rather lucky to have collaborated with someone pretty darn special for the inaugral issue of Kinfolk Magazine. It launches July 15.

UPPERCASE's summer issue will be out soon; Janine put together a slideshow of some of the content, including a glimpse of my contribution - a story on Peach Melba Ice Pops

Here's to happy days, friends!



Whole Wheat Pastry Crust
From the book The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread by Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree (Wiley, 2008). Though I've only talked about the pastry today, the book is a wealth of homey, welcoming recipes. The Pecan Sticky Buns are already famous around here.

From the authors: The whole wheat flour and cream cheese give this pastry a special flavour and texture that area perfect complement to our Spinach and Mushroom Quiche filling. This crust is surprisingly light, rich, and tender, so you might want to use the remaining dough scraps to make savory turnovers with any meat and/or vegetable scraps that are hiding in the refrigerator.

146 g / 5.15 oz / 2/3 cup Unsalted butter, cut into 3/4-inch dice
112 g / 4.0 oz / 3/8 cup + 1 tablespoon Cream Cheese, cut into 1/2-inch dice
52 g / 1.83 oz / 4 tablespoons Ice Water
2 1/2 teaspoons Apple cider vinegar
158 g / 5.60 oz / 1 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons Unbleached all-purpose flour
86 g / 3.0 oz / 1/2 cup Whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon Baking powder

Freeze the diced butter and cream cheese for at least 30 minutes. In a small cup or bowl, combine the ice water and the vinegar.

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the 2 flours, salt and baking powder and process them until they are just combined. Add the frozen chunks of cream cheese and process again for 15 seconds or until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Add the butter chunks and process again for 10 to 15 seconds, until the largest pieces of butter are about the size of peas. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and sprinkle it with the ice water mixture. (If you don't have a food processor, mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl with a wire whisk and rub very cold, not frozen, cream cheese into the flour with your fingers until it looks like coarse meal. Repeat the process with the very cold, not frozen, butter chunks until the largest pieces of butter are about the size of peas. If the butter starts to feel soft, freeze the mixture for 10 minutes before continuing. Sprinkle the ice water mixture over the flour.) Using your hands, stir the mixture, pressing it together firmly until it becomes a cohesive ball of dough. There shout not be any pockets of dry crumbs remaining. If necessary sprinkle in another 1 or 2 teaspoons of ice water. Place the ball of dough on a large piece of plastic wrap, seal the wrap around the dough, and flatten the ball to make a round 3/4-inch disk. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out. This dough may be kept refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen up to 6 months.

Yield: pastry for six 4 1/2-inch quiches or one 9- or 10-inch quiche.


Reader Comments (29)

I'm not sure where the imperfections are you spoke of, but this dish is just beautiful. I wanted to slice into it from looking at your first photograph alone!

June 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

Ahh I've been wanting to make a Quiche Lorraine so badly for the past couple of weeks. This whole wheat pastry dough looks and sounds perfect for it and I can't wait to try it out. Thanks for the recipe, as well as the story! I wish I had an "Aunt" like yours.

June 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

That looks delicious. May need to add quiche to my dinner plan next week...

June 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

It sounds like you have some wonderful projects you are working on. Congratulations. As far as the savory tart goes, I will be happy to try out that crust recipe. I am always looking for a new one as I haven't found "the one" yet. We have an "aunt" like that in our family too. I am so grateful for her because she does't have the expectations of a grandmother...just all around genuine easiness.

June 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSnippets of Thyme

I just made my very first quiche this evening! What a coincidence:)

I've never liked it before, but it was such a resounding success tonight; I'll have to move into the domain of whole wheat crusts next.

Great memories, and terrific accomplishments!

June 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmma

wow - i love your photography. that dish practically leaped off the page and straight into my mouth! i am a whole-wheat dough sucker (we have only whole wheat pancakes and whole wheat pizza dough in our castle) and have been wanting to tackle a pie dough version and i think you are my magic fairy. this looks absolutely right up my alley and can't wait to use up my eggs for a gem like this. as always thank you for the inspirations.

June 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjen

Hello Tara, I found your blog through your lovely piece on modern cake decorating in Saveur. My taste in layer cakes runs to the romantic/rustic, not the formal/fussy, and these are just dreamy. Just wanted to tell you how sweet they are (especially the ribbon cake with the slightly marbled buttercreams.)

June 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

Lovely photo, and I agree with the authors above - it looks perfect, rather than an afterthought!

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRuth

That crust looks so yummy. I want to tear off a piece.

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNicole Franzen

I have yet to try whole wheat pastry dough and I think I need to dip my toe in that pool. This looks lovely.

And thank you for the piece on cake decorating! All your cakes are so beautiful. As I pull together my plans for baking my own cake buffet for my wedding, your pictures are definitely going to serve as inspiration (also, everyone in my family thinks I'm crazy, but I am really looking forward to baking 10ish cakes and getting them all decorated!).

always the recipes you least expect become the ones you want to see again and again.
this is gorgeous!

I love all of the projects you have been working all especially the one for Saveur. Great tips on decorating cakes...and that chocolate cake they used on the article is to die for. Love it.

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

What a wonderful read.

July 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany Mayer

what a beauty! 'chasing the last of the crumbs off my plate with the tins of my fork"... I know that action all too well, beautifully written, of course.

July 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersara

Beautiful photo.
I want sausage rolls.

July 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJason Hudson Dot Com

What a beautiful quiche! Has anyone tried making a thin-crusted quiche with whole wheat flour?

July 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEpicurea

how beautiful! and kinfolk is lucky to have you. :)

July 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda Jane

hi everyone! thank you for all your words about this and the projects that have been keeping me busy.

i do like a good quiche or tart, especially come summertime when they're so tasty at room temperature or even chilled. such a nice way to use up vegetables. and ...

congratulations emma on your first quiche - it was surely a stunner.

rachel, i'm so looking forward hearing about and seeing your cakes for the wedding. and an early best wishes to you for the day!

hey amanda jane, i'm feeling pretty darn chuffed on this end! your work on it will be amazing.

July 5, 2011 | Registered Commentertara o'brady

This looks delicious...any chance on getting the recipe for the filling in addition to the crust? :) I would love to try it exactly as you made it!

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristiina

i've always thought understudies were undersold.

this is so lovely, tara. (and a new book to me, to boot!)

i've been meaning to introduce my children to quiche. lucky me!

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermolly

Would you please post the recipe for you quiche. It looks so amazingly delicious. Another question, did you use a 9 or 10 inch tart or can pan?

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Tosto

That looks wonderful.

July 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

Just perfect - will definitely keep this pastry recipe. Love the Saveur cake piece - shared it with Neen and she thought it was amazing! Great work and truly inspiring. x

i loved you and nikole's contribution to Kinfolk... and the recipes, i must try!

July 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercarissa

Sometimes, it's also the food that brings memories of a special person in my life. Either they made that kind of food or I enjoyed it with them, food brings nostalgia to me.

Thank you for the recipe!

July 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterapaler1

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