french fridays with dorie: quatre-quarts

A perfect cake! It’s easy, it’s elegant, and it’s delicious. This is a perfect cake for snacking on over tea with friends on a lazy afternoon. A sliver of this cake is a perfect end to a breakfast that was missing “something”. A wedge of this cake is the perfect to send home in a doggie bag with an expected dinner guest. This cake is also a perfect excuse to use my cake dome.

Dorie says this is the sort of cake that’s common on most French homes. I wish I were French. I was trying to remember if there was a go-to cake that my mother always had around when I was growing up. I think the go-to baked snacks at our house trended more towards brownies (always from a mix) and Toll House cookies.

Mom in 2002

My mom did make a signature cake, a chocolate chip cake. It wasn’t a fancy cake. She served it from its 13×9 metal baking pan, merely sprinkled with powdered sugar. But, we only had it for special occasions. The funny thing is that one reason I think she only made it for special occasions was that you had to separate the eggs, beat the whites separately and fold them in, just like in this everyday French cake. Maybe our cake was French after all.

Even with the step to beat the egg whites, this was a snap to put together. The only advice I have is to break the egg whites over a separate bowl one at a time and then transferring the white to the bigger bowl. Normally, I do this. I don’t know why I didn’t the day I made this. Unfortunately, the third egg yolk broken (which never happens to me), ruining my bowl of whites, so I had to start over with new eggs. (That means I have two extra egg yolks in the fridge. Any suggestions on what to use them for?)

I used dark rum in my cake, and I loved the extra zing it gave over the more pedestrian vanilla. The friends who came over to tea suggested trying other liqueurs for the rum, maybe kirsch for some subtle cherry flavor. That sounds interesting. I sprinkled the top with the granulated brown sugar left over from the crème brulees. As in that recipe, the sugar didn’t melt as expected, so I’ll try turbinado, which melted better on my custards, the next time I make this cake.

This cake might be simplicity itself, but I know the other bloggers for French Fridays with Dorie are bound to put their own twist on things. For more ideas, check out their posts on the FFwD site.

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Posted on 20 January 2012, in Baking, French Fridays with Dorie and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. Separating egg whites & yolks does seem like such a fussy step, but it definitely changes things up, doesn’t it :-) And I think they should sell just yolks in the stores (kind of like how they sell egg whites) so that you can measure out what you need of each and lose the egg separation anxiety…
    I should be embarrassed to admit that I have two cake domes. And they see a bit of use. Perhaps that is a sign that I need an intervention?
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  2. I used dark rum in mine too! I found this cake to be moist and delicious…will definitely be making it again! Dorie has a chocolate version I saw on line that I have to try! Your cake looks perfect and judging by what’s left…I’m thinking pretty delicious, too! Have a great weekend!

  3. I took the rum a step further and made a sauce to pour over the cake. But even though I booze it up (the cake, not me :) ), I still enjoyed the simplicity of this cake. It’s a keeper!

  4. What a nice post, and your mother’s signature cake sounds like a lovely celebration tradition. My mother was a mean pie maker, but she could not bake a cake to save her life. Though I do remember a few attempts which could have put windows out.

    And I haven’t seen that anyone got a nice glaze on their cake yet. Wonder if Dorie is using some special sugar?

  5. You could use the egg yolks for pastry cream, perhaps? I’m still remembering the eclairs from last year fondly. My Mom’s go-to cake recipe is a cinnamon swirl cake using a doctored cake mix. She tried making it once from scratch but it wasn’t the same. I still have to try the quatre-quarts… the minute I clear my house from sweets, I’ll make room for this cake. Very happy to read all the rave reviews!

  6. I definitely thought this simplistic cake was delicious, despite the egg whites step. Great post!

  7. I like the idea of making this cake with different liquors to see how it changes the flavor. I only had light rum, not dark, on hand and so decided to go with the brandy instead. I love the photo of your last slice of cake in the dome. So pretty!

  8. I’m glad you and your friends enjoyed this cake. I like the picture with just on piece left over!

  9. I agree your cake dome was put to good use! I remember reading a Melissa Clark’s essay how she has a category of cake dome cake recipes. Those are the ones she would bake so that she can put them under the pretty cake dome and snack on throughout the day!

    What great memory of those special occasion cake we enjoyed as children! Mine was an apple cake that came out of a box. :D

  10. Love your cake dome. I have one in the basement that I rarely use which is
    silly because at the time I wanted it so badly. I like the way your cake turned
    out, so well baked. Tricia and I thought the recipe was quite good, and
    we will probably revisit it from time to time. The recipe is simple, and
    most ingredients are things we always have available.

  11. you can make lemon curd! :) ever since being pregnant, i have had trouble remembering which part of the egg is getting separated into which bowl and often have a DOH! moment and have to start over. our egg bill is getting a bit bigger each month… hehehe…! :) but i estimate that I use about 8-10 dozen eggs per month so I guess my egg bill is a bit higher than most… !

  12. I used just vanilla in mine this time, as I was taking it to a meeting and wanted to make sure it had the broadest appeal. I like the idea of adding different flavours, like kirsch, too. I bet the rum was really nice in this. When I was a kid, my Mom used to make a chocolate sheet cake on a cookie sheet, as well as an amazing carrot cake. Those were our favourites.

  13. I adored the simplicity of this cake – it was perfect as it was.

  14. What a lovely post. I enjoyed your story and your cake looks perfect. If I had a couple of unused yolks right now I’d make pudding or maybe add them to a couple more eggs for Sunday morning French toast…anyway I do the egg mess up regularly….keeps the baking going.

  15. Really nice post about this cake and your mom’s signature cake. I think that was the beauty of this one, it is customizable.

    Have a great weekend!

  16. I love your cake dome! Your cake looks perfect, I don’t think my mom had a signature cake, either…she baked the latest fad…but she wasn’t a bit dessert maker.

  17. Your cake looks fantastic :) I was thinking almost the same thing while I was making the cake, wishing that I was a French child getting this for my after school snack :)

  18. I love your idea for using this for breakfast. I think I’d be my kids’ favorite person if I served them cake for breakfast, and really, the ingredients aren’t that different from muffins or pancakes.

  19. I think I have cake dome envy! The cake looks so good under the dome!
    I really like baking a simple cake like this one. I remember my mom making a simple yellow cake in a 9 x13 pan, spreading on a sugary topping then running it under the broiler, I loved to eat the broiled icing off the top of the cake, maybe a little cake but the icing was the star!

  20. The rum sounds great! I love the idea of other tastes like amaretto or frangelico. Yum!

  21. What a fun memory of the cake your mom made! This was delicious! :)

  22. Toll house cookies was a standard at our house too but my Mom was a whiz with pies and cobblers! Your cake looks delicious!

  23. I really like your cake dome! Isn’t it amazing that this would be considered an every-day cake in France? I might move there if it meant eating cake every day…

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