Do not fear, I am not about to come over all Proustian….
In amongst all the wind and rain and hail we’ve been experiencing recently I found myself thinking back fondly (oh no! Proust attack!) to the two weeks we had in France this summer. In particular I was remembering a picnic on the beach, in blisteringly hot sun, and a bag of quatre-quarts that just hit the spot.
I believe Quatre-quarts are normally baked in a loaf tin; a good, plain cake that is the French equivalent of a Victoria Sponge (without the filling). The quatre-quarts we had however, were produced as dainty, individual mouthfuls-and this was the effect I wanted to try to reproduce.
There are loads of recipes on the net which have the basic ingredients:-
125g caster sugar
125g plain flour
125g butter, melted and cooled
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
But I liked the variation found in Rachel Khoo’s ‘Little Paris Kitchen’ which included the grated zest of an orange and lemon, so I added 2teaspoons of each.
Preheat oven to Gas 4.
Separate eggs and beat the whites to peaks with half the sugar.
In a different bowl beat the yolks with the rest of the sugar
In a third bowl mix the dry ingredients and the zest together.
Fold the flour mix into the yolk mix and then stir in the butter. Fold in the egg whites.
If you are going the traditional route, pour the mix into a greased and floured loaf tin.
I wanted my cakes to go down the dainty route, but didn’t feel the cupcake aesthetic was quite right, so I dusted down an old, battered Madeleine tin and used that instead.
Bake for 20-25 minutes till golden (increase cooking time if you’re going for the loaf).
What comes out is light, moist, subtly citrusy sponge with a slight crispness to the edges.
Reminiscent of us slightly sunburnt and crispy Brits after a day on the beach eating Quatre-quarts.