Quatre Quart

Wandering Bob

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I’m sure everyone knows this cake – perhaps more immediately recognisable as ‘pound cake’ – the name originating from a pound each of butter, flour, sugar and eggs. It’s been around in Europe since the 1700’s.

I made one by accident – I arrived at it backwards: I made a seed cake without the seeds – a friend was here, we tried the cake and she said “oh, Bob – you’ve made a quatre quart”. I was amused by that – but the cake itself was rather uninteresting: very buttery, quite sweet and heavy. OK after a long ride on the bike but it’s really rather bland. My version is cheaper to make (my eggs are free) than the shop-bought one – but it was a culinary “so what?” moment.

I think it was around March this year that I started to wonder what I could do to make this cake more interesting. The following is an abbreviated list of where my playing has taken me with Quatre Quart (QQ) variants:

QQ/citron (lemon) – just a simple addition of lemon zest. Better …but again not very interesting – and my zesting skills are poor

QQ/oranger – I added arome fleur d’oranger to the mix. I think this translates as orange blossom water. It’s certainly not orange zest or orange juice. This gives a quite subtle flavour to the cake. Someone suggested that it’s a Tunisian flavour. Possibly – but I guess it’s just as likely to be southern Spanish.

QQ/De-Luxe – I added arome fleur d’oranger and Pépites Chocolat Noir (black chocolate chips) to the mix. I really liked the orange/chocolate combination and I think it was at this point that I realised that the experiments were taking me somewhere really quite interesting.

QQ/All Sorts – as the De Luxe, but with the addition of sultanas. Good but perhaps a bit of a dead-end.

QQ/Canelle et Chocolat (cinnamon & chocolate)I first made this at Easter (it seemed appropriate). And I have made it again and again and again. My neighbour's 3-year old loves this cake I think it's his favourite food. I don't know if that's a recommendation or not but, like him, I've found it really hard to stop eating this cake once I've started. Eating a little bit of this whilst I'm out on the bike gives me a further incentive to get home so I can have some more...I also discovered, whilst trialling this QQ variant, the concept of 'immediate and delayed' chocolate. Explanation of that, plus recipe and photo to follow

QQ/Poire vanille (pear & vanilla) one of my favourite tisane/infusions is pear & vanilla (I love the flavour combination) so that’s where the inspiration came from. And it’s quite simply the most enjoyable cake I’ve ever made. Again, recipe and photo will be posted soon

The next variant will be QQ/Tunisie, using dates, sultanas and arome fleur d’oranger. I can’t for the life of me decide whether to mince the dates or leave them whole (or halved) – but I’ll get there.

Another idea is to add fruits confits (candied fruit?) to make a kind of crossover QQ/fruit cake. I’ve not taken this idea any further yet.

Or possibly an apple & clove variant….but I’m hesitant: I’m not sure it’d work.

I asked friends to supply any other flavour variations that they thought might work – two suggestions that might have merit are jasmine or lavender. I’m not sure where I’d go with either – and they’ll have to wait until the winter anyway.

I hope this proves to be of interest to some of you. I thought that if I simply posted a couple of recipes on the forum then they’d lack a bit of context. What started out as just a couple of little ideas on how to make the simple Quatre Quart more interesting turned into a much bigger project for me.

I welcome any comments on this subject - and apologise for the length of the post
 

Wandering Bob

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Sharp knife and small grater ….but got more finger than zest into the cake ….

Any advice welcomed
 

Wandering Bob

Senior Member
Joined
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Local time
12:46 AM
Messages
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France
If you haven't got a Microplane then buy one

I've just placed an order via Amazon.uk for a Microplane Premium Zester - hopefully it'll arrive here before the end of next week.

Certainly not cheap - but I don't ever remember seeing so many enthusiastic reviews of a product on Amazon before. Your recommendation, plus those reviews, persuaded me.

I reckon I'll be spending the rest of July happily zesting....
 

Wandering Bob

Senior Member
Joined
13 Jul 2018
Local time
12:46 AM
Messages
873
Location
France
Sorry I'm not commenting yet on the additions to the pound cake - I will have to think...

If you do have any suggestions as to additional flavour combinations for the Quatre Quart/Pound Cake, they'd be appreciated - thanks

It's probably no more than an academic exercise but I keeping thinking in terms of three's. For example, the Poire Vanille was a test of pear/vanilla, pear/chocolate and chocolate/vanilla - I knew that as pairings they worked, but would all three work well together? They do as far as I'm concerned - so it wasn't just a very enjoyable cake, it was a satisfactory outcome to an intellectual challenge.

I'm going to make the Poire Vanille again today - but I will use Maxi fondant pépites this time. I suspect it won't be quite as good but who knows? perhaps it'll be even better. Part of the joy of playing in the kitchen...
 

Wandering Bob

Senior Member
Joined
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Local time
12:46 AM
Messages
873
Location
France
Preserved ginger and chocolate chips? Preserved ginger and orange zest?

Interesting, thank you. I doubt that preserved ginger will be hard to find but I've been unpleasantly surprised before. Will find a translation and go and ask a neighbour. Might come back to you later for suggestions as to quantity. And I'm not sure if my neighbour's 3-year old 'willing tester of Bob's cakes' will approve, but hey, he can be disappointed sometimes (preparation for life to come).

Orange zest ? oh, certainly - with my new zester, I shall be practicing and playing and practicing again.
 

Wandering Bob

Senior Member
Joined
13 Jul 2018
Local time
12:46 AM
Messages
873
Location
France
Add chocolate to make a marbled one.

Thanks - I think I've already done this with my Cinnamon & Chocolate QQ variant. I will get round to posting the recipe and photo for that one soon. When I do, if it's not what you had in mind, then please let me know and I'll start again
 
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