Quatre-quarts a la Madeleine

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:-
2 eggs
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.

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It is vitally important to sample the cake batter as you go. Just to check the quality.

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).

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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.

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