Le Quatre-Quarts – The Pound Cake

While thinking about easy french recipes I could tell you more about, the Quatre-Quarts (literally four quarters) popped up. Very appreciated in Brittany, it is nothing else that what you usually call a Pound Cake. Nothing new, the quatre-quarts is baked with 4 ingredients used in same proportion as its name implies: sugar, eggs, butter, flour. No yeast, no baking powder. Of course, there is a certain process to mix all the ingredients in order to make this cake edible. Otherwise, your stomach would surely feel the whole pound’s weight! I couldn’t help myself to update the recipe with the seeds of a vanilla bean in the batter and lemon icing on the top. There are a small improvements, but they really make the difference.

We traditionally bake the quatre-quarts in a kind of loaf pan, except it is a thiner and longer one. Here, I grab the occasion to inaugurate the 9” bundt cake pan I bought from Nordic Ware. My first bundt pan!!! I fall totally in love with these fancy shapes. I don’t understand why we are not using them in France; it makes your cake so elegant. I am planning to start a collection. Do you have a favorite one?

Ingredients for one quatre-quarts:
  • 1/2 lb butter (I prefer using the salted one but it is up to you)
  • 1/2 lb caster sugar
  • 1/2 lb white flour
  • 5 eggs
  • Optional: 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  1. Melt the butter in a pan. With the tip of a knife, split the vanilla bean lenghtwise and scrape out the seeds. Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the yolks with half of caster sugar until light and fluffy. Add the melted butter mixing well, the flour and vanilla seeds.
  3. Beat the egg whites until firm with a pinch of salt, and adding the remaining caster sugar in 3 stages. You should reach a very stiff and shiny consistency. Congrats! You’ve just made a meringue. Add 1/3 of this meringue in your first mixing bowl. Mix until homogeneous. Then gently fold the remaining egg whites with a spatula until incorporated.
  4. Pre-heat the oven at 355°F/180°C. Butter and flour your cake pan. Pour your batter in. Bake for 40 minutes. A knife inserted should come dry.
  5. While your quatre-quarts is cooling, prepare the icing. In a bowl, put the powdered sugar. Squeeze the juice of the lemon and pour in with the sugar. Mix with a fork. Spread the icing right away with a pastry brush. Don’t wait to much or the icing will dry. Now enjoy your quatre-quarts!

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