In the world of French language the word “cake” doesn’t refer to your typical kind of layered cream cake, but rather to a pound cake.
The quatre quarts cake, absolute epicenter of the French cake culture is what you learn to bake when you grow up along ironing and sewing (yes! I did sew some fairly stunning pair of pants… with a leg shorter than the other, I admit!). The 4/4 refers to equal part of eggs, flour, sugar and butter. If you just do that, you’ll end up with a very normal pound cake. Many people uses it as a base and add fruits, jam or baking powder to have it a bit less dense. Then, variations are endless and every family claims to hold the best “everything” cake. The good thing is that when you visit any family where the tradition is still anchored, you’ll always end up eating cake!
Here is a recipe you should try that is not quite like your traditional quatre quarts!
You will need:
- 100 gm Melted Butter
- 210 gm White Sugar
- 140 ml Cream (35% fat)
- 3 gm Baking Powder
- 170 gm Cake Flour
- One very large egg
- One grated vanilla bean
- A generous pinch of salt
And this is how you do it:
- Mix all ingredients in a kitchen mixer (the blade type) until you obtain a smooth mixture
- Apply melted butter in a rectangle mold and cover the butter with flour; shake the excess flour
- Fill the mould to 3/4 of the height
- Pipe a thin line of soft butter on the whole length of the cake (this will make it open at baking)
- For a cake of 700 gm (the above recipe) bake it at 165C for 10 minutes and a further 70 minutes at 145C
- Once baked, allow to cool a little and take out of the mold; cool on a wire rack
And if you want to make it marbled or chocolate flavor, just replace 8 to 10% of the flour with unsweetened cocoa powder. Personally, I am a great believer in leaving it to sit in the kitchen for a day before indulging, of course, that is given you can hold yourself for that long!
Update: After posting, I was actually wondering if it was really popular to add so much cream in a butter cake recipe and I came across this: http://www.cookismo.fr/gateau-moelleux-aux-pommes/10014 It’s in French, but basically, it’s more or less the same concept with apples added – I am sure it’s delicious too!