Flamiche

Both the word and often the actuality of quiche make my flesh crawl. I left school in 1964 just as England discovered the quiche. Quite good cooks were ruined overnight. It was as damaging to the food culture of the British Isles as the beefburger. I spent my adolescence avoiding it, and nothing since has changed my mind. Flamiche is the Flemish answer to the quiche. People forget that Flanders was once a major world power; that William the Conqueror’s marriage to Matilda of Flanders was on a par with Queen Victoria marrying her plumber; that the Flemish weavers held the wool trade to ransom. Flamiche is made with brioche dough and can be filled with whatever you like. I have given a leek filling, for Wales, you understand.

Ingredients

For the Brioche Dough

  • 15 g/½ oz fresh yeast or 7 g/¼ oz dried yeast
  • 4 tbsp lukewarm water
  • 450 g/1 lb strong plain flour
  • 6 eggs (size 1 or 2)
  • tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 225 g/8 oz unsalted butter, softened

For the Leek Filling

  • 675 g/ lb leeks, sliced lengthways and quartered
  • 25 g/1 oz butter
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 75 ml/ floz double cream

Method

Put the yeast and water into a small bowl and leave until dissolved. Sift the flour into a large bowl, break the eggs into it and add the salt, sugar and yeast mixture. Blend with the fingertips to make a dough. If the dough is sticky add more flour.

On a floured surface knead the dough for 5 minutes until it is smooth and very elastic. Add the softened butter and knead into the dough. Form into a ball. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turn the dough so that it is coated with oil and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise for about 2 hours until it has doubled in size. Then chill the dough for at least 4 hours.

For the filling, melt the butter in a frying pan, add the leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes until the leeks are soft.

Butter two 25 cm/10 in round cake tins. Knock back the dough and divide in half. Roll out each portion to a 35 cm/14 in round and use to line the tins, letting surplus dough hang over the side. Spread the leeks over the dough. Beat the egg yolks with the double cream, season and pour over the leeks. Lift up the overhanging dough to cover half the filling. Leave for 15 minutes.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 for 45 minutes until the crust is brown and the filling set.

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