A Bread Bowl Makes the Perfect Lazy Pie Crust
Pie crust is a pain in the butt if you don’t make it all the time. I have dear friends who are pastry mavens, they can knock out a pie crust with the phone tucked between shoulder and ear, while letting the dog out and checking someone’s homework. I can make a decent pie crust, but I only really do it once a year for Thanksgiving, so it has never become fast or intuitive. There's no shame in using a good store bought frozen crust, but when I want pie I’m far more likely to go buy a great pie than make a serviceable one.
I like savory pies, quiche in particular. When done well, it's a favorite lunch or light summer dinner. But quiche, even more than sweet pies, requires a great crust. As Mary Berry would say, a soggy bottom is never acceptable. And I’ve never found a great or easy recipe for a quiche crust, and the store bought crusts totally sog out.
I wanted to be able to make quiche more often, and also more easily.
I had a revelation at Panera Bread. It was the dead of winter, I had 35 minutes between appointments and I was starving. I meant to just order soup, but when the cashier asked if I wanted it in the bread bowl, I lost all willpower. And in the course of eating my lunch, I realized that the bread bowl concept might just be the remedy to my crust problem.
Hollowing out rounds of bread to fill with things is no new concept. Many a party buffet has been graced with a round of rye stuffed with spinach dip. The famous New Orleans muffaletta is essentially a stuffed loaf. The internet is full of snappy overhead shot videos of loaves of bread being filled with everything from chicken parmigiana to s’mores, and even Nigella fills hers with glazed cocktail weenies.
So why not a quiche in a bread bowl?
I hollow out my bread to a thickness of 1/2 inch or so, because I want the filling to be the star. To prevent the soggy bottom, I line the inside with overlapped slices of cheese instead of using shredded cheese in the custard. The rest is just my standard quiche recipe.
I call it lazy quiche, and the fillings change with the seasons and on a whim. If you really want to never have to make a pie crust again, try making a sweet version by hollowing out a boule of sweet Hawaiian bread, painting the inside with melted white chocolate, and then filling it with the fruit pie filling of your choice and top with a crumble or streusel mix.
Bread Bowl Lazy Quiche
One 8-9 inch round sourdough boule, top sliced off and hollowed out, leaving about 1/2 inch of bread.
1 1/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup half and half
1 1/2 cups filling (I like chopped spinach, onion and cubed ham)
Salt and pepper
8 ounces of cheese slices (I use smoked gouda, Havarti, or muenster because they mold well and don’t crack)
1. Heat your oven to 375°F. Place your round of hollowed bread on a cooking sheet. Line the bread bowl with the slices of cheese, overlapping slightly. I do the sides first by draping the cheese down the side and onto the bottom, and then cover the bottom to seal the whole thing in.
2. Sprinkle your fillings evenly over the bottom. Mix the milk, half and half and eggs well, seasoning with salt and pepper to your taste. If your fillings or cheese are salty, go lighter on the salt. Pour the seasoned custard over the fillings then bake 30-40 minutes until the top is browned, and there is just the barest jiggle in the middle when you tap the baking sheet.
3. Let rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.