Flamiche was devised when a farmer, en route to market, stumbled, dropping butter, cream, cheese and eggs. A quick thinker, she snagged a scrap of bread dough, wrapped up the mess and popped the proto-tart in the communal oven.
Obviously, this origin story dates back to an age when food safety standards were lax.
Since then, flamiche has gained fans. And leeks. Also ham. Occasionally curry powder. Often the pungent French cheese maroilles. And sometimes a top layer of pastry. It’s a flexible form.
The modern quick thinker can prebake the pastry and prewhisk the filling. Then, when stumbling through Sunday morning, toss the two together and bake up flamiche, producing not just brunch, but legend.
Prep: 90 minutes plus 1 hour rest
Bake: 30 minutes
Makes: One 8-inch quiche, serves 8
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ c. milk
¼ c. heavy cream
¾ tsp. curry powder, optional but nice
¼ tsp. finely grated lemon zest
4 oz. thinly sliced ham, cut into matchsticks
8-inch pastry shell, par-baked, recipe follows
1½ oz grated Gruyere cheese
1. Slice: Halve leeks the long way and cut the white portion crosswise into ½-inch crescents. Pile into a salad spinner. Soak in two changes of cold water. Spin dry. Measure 3½ cups.
2. Soften: Melt butter in a wide skillet. Slide in leeks and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring now and then, until soft, about 20 minutes. Uncover and cook until liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Let cool down.
3. Fill: Whisk together eggs, milk, cream, curry, zest and a few grates of nutmeg. Stir in ham and leeks. Season with salt, if need be. Pour into pastry shell. Sprinkle with cheese. Grind on some pepper.
4. Bake: Bake in the lower third of the oven at 375 until puffed and golden, 28 to 30 minutes. Enjoy warm.
Pastry shell: Buzz together 1 cup flour and ¼ teaspoon salt in a food processor. Drop in 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up. Pulse until largest lumps are pea-size. Drop in 3 to 4 tablespoons ice-cold water and pulse to damp clumps. Turn out, press into a disk and dust lightly with flour. Roll out pastry ⅛-inch thin. Fit into a lightly buttered 8-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll the rolling pin over the top, trimming away excess pastry. Chill 1 hour or more. Cover with foil, fill with baking beans. Bake in the lower third of the oven at 400 degrees, 20 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove foil and beans before proceeding.