Arsicault Bakery may be known best for its buttery, flaky croissants, which hit the national spotlight when the shop won best new bakery in the country in Bon Appétit in 2016. But did you know it also makes a seriously underrated quiche, which only slid onto the menu in the last couple of years? The crust is deep and crumbly, as you would expect coming out of this kitchen, and the custard is incredibly creamy, as well as emphatically oniony. And while quiche is always in season — according to owner Armando Lacayo, and he’s the authority — a whole cream bomb quiche from Arsicault would be charming to set out at brunch this spring.
Lacayo says he’s been wanting to put quiche on the menu for years, but unforeseen circumstances kept it off. The day before Bon Appétit published “the article that changed my life,” he baked several test quiches at the original location on Arguello. But when the award dropped and the line grew long, the bakery was so overwhelmed with croissant production that the quiches were scrapped. They didn’t make a comeback until January 2020, when Arsicault opened a second location downtown on McCallister. This time quiche stuck on the menu, but again it was overshadowed by the news, when full lockdown descended only two months later, and not so many diners ventured downtown to try hot new pastries. But even though it rolled out quietly, it sells well, Lacayo confirmed. Quiche insiders kept coming back for more.
“Quiche is all about two things,” Lacayo says. “Number one, the crust has to be crispy …. And the filling is really like custard. It’s very important not to overbake it, otherwise you wind up with scrambled eggs.” Lacayo makes a classic pastry crust, without any fancy Normandy butter, but he presses it deep and prebakes it well. The onion confit is the most time consuming, sweating down a large quantity of onions, but without giving them any caramelization or color, to keep them mellow and sweet. He crumbles in cooked bacon and cheese, and that is French, it’s gooey comté. How much cream is actually in there, one might wonder? Actually not that much! It’s half milk, half cream, but baked slower at a lower temperature, the creaminess comes through in the texture. Unlike lesser quiches that sacrifice a hard perimeter to get the center set, an Arsicault quiche is luxurious to sink a fork into, every bite all the way to the edge.
The team only makes quiche at the downtown location, where it’s warm by the slice, but you can call and order a refrigerated whole quiche at either location, and luckily, it’s available through Pastel across the Bay Area. Quiche keeps well in the fridge, which is why the exacting Lacayo was willing to put it in a purple van. Fans have been clamoring for croissants for neighborhood pickup, too, but Lacayo is strict. Even though Pastel could get them to you the same day, “Croissants have to be fresh,” he insists. Even a few hours “is not fresh enough.” The quiche, however, reheats like a dream. He recommends warming in the oven, and the key is to pull the slices apart. “A whole quiche would take forever, and be too hot on the outside, and still cold in the middle,” Lacayo says. “Rely on thermodynamics.” What about — dare you ask — microwaving quiche? “No microwave. Period.”
Quiche is a comfort anytime; for breakfast, lunch, or dinner; hot out of the oven with morning coffee, or cool with a glass of wine and a tangle of greens for dinner. It’s an easy but decadent addition to spring brunches, whether you’re celebrating moms or trying to feed kids before they get all hopped up on chocolate bunnies. But a creamy quiche makes any weekend a treat. “People love quiche all the time,” Lacayo insists.
Arsicault is available through Pastel, so the quiche can come to your neighborhood (and the Parisian flan, financiers, and more). If you’ve never used Pastel before, sign up for access below.