Quatre-Quarts au Citron

I’m starting to sound like a broken record. If you haven’t guessed already, I kinda have un petit fixation with French baked goods.

So when I saw that Beurre d’Insigny was being stocked on the shelves of my local Tesco, I actually jumped for joy. And maybe squealed too. You know, just for good measure. I think A already knows he’s going out with somebody a little weird, but it doesn’t hurt to give him an extra reminder every now and again ;).

So with the butter at hand, I needed to make something good to showcase it in. In the end, the internet as usual came to the rescue. How about that classic buttery French pound cake, le Quatre-Quarts?

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It is more or less the same as my recipe for a Victoria sponge. I baked it in a loaf tin to be traditional, but added the zest of 2 lemons for extra fragrance. I also borrowed a tip from French blog foodbeam, and piped a line of butter down the centre of my cake before it went into the oven, to see if that would achieve the perfect crack down the centre. It did work beautifully, although you can’t see it in the photos, because I had a little mishap when flipping the cake out of the tin, and a little bit of the crust came away.

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The urge to turn my French quatre-quarts into an English lemon drizzle cake was quite overwhelming. I didn’t quite give in to temptation, but I did add a little syrup to the finished cake for extra flavour and delicious zing.

Forgive me for sounding giddily over-enthusiastic, but this cake is THE BOMB. It’s really, really delicious. The crumb is soft and pillowy, the flavours delicately buttery and fragrantly citrus, with a melty, crunchy crust. It’s not too sweet, and there’s a definite sharp tang from the lemon syrup. Scrummy yum yum.

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Quatre-Quarts au Citron

Makes one loaf cake

  • 3 eggs, weighed in their shells
  • The weight of the 3 eggs in butter, caster sugar, and plain flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • a little milk
  • the juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 dsp caster sugar
  • extra butter

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Butter and line a loaf tin with overhanging strips of paper. Squidge a extra few spoonfuls of butter together into a piping bag, and set aside until later.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

Beat the measured butter until soft and creamy, then add the sugar and continue to whisk together until pale and creamy.  Slowly dribble into the creamed mixture the egg, whisking all the while, and then the lemon zest. Finally fold in the flour.

Add just enough milk, and a squeeze of lemon juice to loosen the mixture up to dropping consistency, then dollop the cake batter into the loaf tin, and level the surface. Pipe a thin line of soft butter down the centre of the cake.

Put the cake into the oven and bake until springy and a skewer comes out clean. Cover with foil around 30 minutes into baking so the top doesn’t get scorched. It takes around 45-50 minutes in total.

While the cake is baking, put the remaining lemon juice and the two spoonfuls of caster sugar into a saucepan, and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved. Using a pastry brush, brush the warm cake with the syrup.

Cool the cake in the tin for 5 minutes, then use a knife to loosen the cake from the tin, and turn it out onto a cooling rack.

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5 thoughts on “Quatre-Quarts au Citron

  1. Love Beurre d’Isigny! It seems we are baking the same things right now and I can’t resist a quattre-quarts or a cake au yaourt. That’s why I had to try the ciambella and you were lightening fast – great to meet you, I just had pressed publish. Nicole xxx

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