Quatre Quarts Gateau

My mother, who is 92, has a scale that I used to love playing with as a child. I knew it wasn’t a toy, but I just liked weighing random items and gradually adding weights until both plates balanced perfectly. I was always nerdy.

Weighing ingredients makes so much more sense than measuring to me. I’d rather weight 4 ounces of chopped nuts, than use a measuring cup, especially with a critical ingredient.

In any case, the reason I mention this ancient scale (sorry Mom!) is because this cake recipe is based on one weight alone – the weight of eggs. There are four ingredients in this cake – eggs, butter, sugar, and flour, and the weight is the same for all four ingredients. The recipe is called Quatre Quarts, meaning four quarters.

These days, digital scales make weighing ingredients a breeze. So I’m making this cake using my small kitchen scale, just like in the “old” days! It brought back wonderful memories of my mother making the cake over the years.

Quatre Quarts Gateau

4 eggs
Unsalted Butter
Sugar
Flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 F.   Butter and flour a deep 8 inch loaf pan.

Weigh the eggs in a small bowl after you’ve removed the weight of the bowl. My eggs weighed 192 grams, or about 6.7 ounces.

Then weigh out the 192 grams of butter, sugar and flour.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan or microwave (carefully).   When it begins to melt, remove it from the heat and let it cool.

Using an electric hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes in a medium mixing bowl.

Add the flour and mix just until it’s incorporated. I also added some vanilla powder.

Then add the cooled butter. Using a rubber spatula, make sure the batter is smooth.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven to 300 degrees F and the timer to 45 minutes.

Turn off the oven completely and set a timer for 10 minutes.

The cake should be cooked through the middle; I always use a cake tester to make sure. But if you see a puddle of soft cake in the middle, don’t even bother opening your oven to test the cake. It needs more time.

There should be some slight browning around the edges, but not much. Remove the cake from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Then remove the cake from the loaf pan and let it cool on a rack.

You can tell the cake texture is much like a pound cake. If you prefer a lighter texture, separate the eggs and after the egg yolks have been well blended with the sugar and butter and after the flour is combined, fold in beaten egg whites.

Note: There are other options for flavoring other than vanilla extract or powder or even scraped vanilla beans. You can use an extract like sweet orange oil or lemon zest. But I wouldn’t add a liqueur or anything volume of something liquid that will offset the ratio of the ingredients.

This cake is very delicate in flavor. I’ve never toasted it but I bet that would be good, with some added butter of course.

It’s perfect for an afternoon tea-time snack, a morning treat with coffee, or even an sweet evening nibble with a glass of sherry.

By Published On: April 12th, 201977 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

77 Comments

  1. David @ Spiced April 12, 2019 at 6:08 AM - Reply

    Oh, this looks amazing, Mimi! I love the story about the scale, too. I have a digital scale in my kitchen that I use all the time, but seeing the old school version is pretty awesome. Almost as awesome as this cake, haha! I’m not familiar with a Quatre Quarts cake, but it looks similar to pound cake…and I love a good pound cake. Thanks for sharing this one!!

    • chef mimi April 12, 2019 at 7:33 AM - Reply

      It’s very similar, nothing fancy. I also like it with the egg whites whipped. I don’t know what I’d do without my scale!

  2. Dawn @ Girl Heart Food April 12, 2019 at 7:57 AM - Reply

    Looks like a delicious cake that could be the base of so many yummy desserts! I love our kitchen scale. Don’t know what I’d do without it now :)

    • chef mimi April 12, 2019 at 8:28 AM - Reply

      Exactly. A scale is indispensable.

  3. 2pots2cook April 12, 2019 at 11:32 AM - Reply

    Dear Mimi, you bring the memories back of my grandmother : she used to make exactly that kind of cakes and this one is such a perfect occasion to do it ! Thank you so much !

    • chef mimi April 12, 2019 at 11:58 AM - Reply

      You are so welcome! My mother always baked a lot, but this cake was special to her.

  4. jenniferguerrero1 April 12, 2019 at 12:18 PM - Reply

    I love this. It’s that kind of recipe that you’ll commit to memory. And that scale! Granted, the new ones are more practical, but I love that you still have it. It’s beautiful and has memories attached to it, rather than something purely decorative.

    • chef mimi April 12, 2019 at 12:24 PM - Reply

      Thanks! Yeah, there’s no way one could forget this recipe! It’s so easy. I do love my digital kitchen scale, tho. What a brilliant invention!

  5. Katherine | Love In My Oven April 12, 2019 at 4:40 PM - Reply

    I use a kitchen scale all of the time, but mine isn’t nearly as cool as this! Congrats on your Mom’s 91st. This looks so tasty!

    • chef mimi April 12, 2019 at 7:08 PM - Reply

      Thanks! Yeah, it was fun to play with, but not nearly as fast as digital!

  6. Conor Bofin April 13, 2019 at 2:21 AM - Reply

    I love the idea of a slice or two with a glass of sherry. White port would be great too.

    • chef mimi April 13, 2019 at 6:47 AM - Reply

      This is the second time I’ve seen white port mentioned. I’ve never had it! Too bad Amazon doesn’t sell it.

  7. Karen (Back Road Journal) April 13, 2019 at 11:19 AM - Reply

    What a terrific old scale to have even though the digital ones would be much easier to use. My husband loves pound cake so I know he would really like this one.

    • chef mimi April 13, 2019 at 2:36 PM - Reply

      It’s so simple, and you know I’m not a baker! I do also like this cake with the egg whites whipped and folded in.

  8. David April 13, 2019 at 11:21 AM - Reply

    Sometimes I weigh, sometimes I measure, and sometimes I just toss things together willy-nilly! This is one I will weigh! Can’t wait to try this, Mimi!

    • chef mimi April 13, 2019 at 2:37 PM - Reply

      I believe you! Cause I think that’s the fun with this cake – weighing the eggs!

  9. Marissa April 13, 2019 at 11:43 AM - Reply

    I always bake with a scale, so this recipe is perfect. Thank you, Mimi! I’m going to make this for a dinner party we’re going to next weekend. Can’t wait to taste it!

    • chef mimi April 13, 2019 at 2:37 PM - Reply

      Thank you so much Marissa. I can’t imagine not owning a scale – of any kind!

  10. cookingontheweekends April 13, 2019 at 5:58 PM - Reply

    I love this recipe and will try it. (Might not be quite the same/as good b/c I’ll try it with GF flour so my son can have some.) And I really LOVE that scale – SO cool! I like baking with a scale, too.

    • chef mimi April 13, 2019 at 9:19 PM - Reply

      Oh right. I understand! Scales are pretty wonderful inventions!

  11. Debra April 13, 2019 at 11:10 PM - Reply

    I have only been weighing my ingredients for a few short years now, and I can’t believe I went my entire life without even knowing that to be an option! It’s a wonderful freedom to find that accuracy. This looks delicious, Mimi, and I’m sure to bake it.

    • chef mimi April 14, 2019 at 5:18 AM - Reply

      I’m glad you discovered weighing. It still bothers me to see something like “1/2 cup of olives” in an ingredient list, even though they’re probably not going to affect the outcome. But still…

  12. Ron April 14, 2019 at 5:10 AM - Reply

    A cake like your Quatre Quarts Gateau is my favorite way to enjoy Strawberries. What a wonderful scale and fine heirloom. I’m a big time scale guy. I weigh most everything I can. I just find it more accurate especially when baking. Thanks for sharing the recipe and scale story.

    • chef mimi April 14, 2019 at 5:21 AM - Reply

      Thanks, Ron. Especially in baking, yes, but still, some ingredients should be listed more precisely, I feel. Even if they wouldn’t negatively affect the overall result. I’ve always fumed at “1/2 cup walnuts.” Just a pet peeve I guess!

  13. neil@neilshealthymeals.com April 14, 2019 at 1:36 PM - Reply

    Congratulations to your mother on just turning 91 Mimi. That’s a great age! Aren’t the old recipes the best ones? This quatre quarts cake looks lovely. I’d enjoy my slice(s) with my morning coffee and with strawberry jam on please!

    • chef mimi April 14, 2019 at 2:10 PM - Reply

      It’s very mild, but tasty. I expected you to be a tea drinker!

  14. Mary April 14, 2019 at 2:37 PM - Reply

    I always like weighing ingredients. Trying to work out the weight of 6 tablespoons of butter is a nightmare for me. I love your old set of scales and just think of all the wonderful food your Mother has weighed out in her years. Congratulations to your Mum for reaching such a wonderful age. You are a lucky girl to still have her around.
    I will enjoy making your pound cake and will think of your Mother making it over the years.
    Nice to have memories. :)

    • chef mimi April 14, 2019 at 2:39 PM - Reply

      Very sweet of you. Thank you. And yes, tablespoons of butter is just plain silly.

  15. cookingwithauntjuju.com April 14, 2019 at 4:37 PM - Reply

    I love your mom’s scale – what a treasure even though I would not have room to display it in my kitchen. I have an old fashioned Salter scale that I have fun weighing ingredients on. I can remember as a young child getting a microscope and loved looking at all kinds of things, but enlarged. Gadgets are just fun and I still (like you) enjoy using them.

    • chef mimi April 15, 2019 at 7:18 AM - Reply

      They truly are fun! And it’s funny that you mentioned a microscope, because as a professional geologist I actually studied minerals by using various electron microscopes! So maybe we’re both nerdy!

  16. Craving4More April 14, 2019 at 6:54 PM - Reply

    My friend, Valerie, and I were just talking about making this on Friday and then “wham bam,” you created it first! Way to go! We will definitely be making yours in the future – she has 9 chickens = too many eggs :-)

    • chef mimi April 14, 2019 at 7:03 PM - Reply

      Ha! Oh yeah, lots of baking!!! Very cool you’ve heard about this, tho!

  17. Freda @ Aromatic essence April 14, 2019 at 8:09 PM - Reply

    Birthday wishes to your Mum! I love that vintage digital scale, such a treasure, Mimi! And the cake looks fantastic, love a simple pound cake :)

    • chef mimi April 14, 2019 at 8:14 PM - Reply

      Thank you. Yes, a very simple cake. I actually prefer it with the egg whites whipped. It’s just a little lighter, which I like better!

  18. kathryninthekitchen April 14, 2019 at 9:52 PM - Reply

    I couldn’t agree with you more Mimi….I prefer weighing all the ingredients over cup measurements.
    I simply adore this cake…it looks just like a recipe that I have been looking for…you see I LOVE pound cake and when I get off this low carb eating program (supporting my husband) I am definitely going to make this one. Fabulous!!!

    • chef mimi April 15, 2019 at 7:21 AM - Reply

      My husband is the same way, which is so funny to me because he has about 4% body fat. I am the one who should be watching my carbs, and I do to an extent. But I certainly make exceptions. An girlfriend of mine died recently at 61, and she had always enjoyed life fully – a lesson to all of us. Not to get morbid, but I’m not going to ever deny myself pasta because of the carbs!

  19. Frank Fariello April 15, 2019 at 7:07 AM - Reply

    What a beautiful old scale. I can see why it fascinated a young person. I, too, keep some old kitchen and dinner ware, of my grandmother’s, that are really precious to me. And as for the recipe, it sounds like the kind of thing that should be part of my regular rotation. I could enjoy that with coffee for breakfast on a daily basis!

    • chef mimi April 15, 2019 at 7:17 AM - Reply

      Thank you Frank! I really was a nerd, in any case. I was a scientist in my “previous” life before retirement, looking at rocks with microscopes! The good thing about this cake is that you’ll never forget the recipe!

  20. Laura April 15, 2019 at 1:12 PM - Reply

    I’m totally with you, Mimi! I think weighing ingredients (especially when baking) is the way to go! So much easier! Lovely cake, and sounds de-lic-ious!

    • chef mimi April 15, 2019 at 5:36 PM - Reply

      Thank you Laura!

  21. Jeff the Chef April 15, 2019 at 9:43 PM - Reply

    I’m absolutely fascinated by that scale! I can see why you would’ve loved playing with it as a kid – I’d love playing with it as a adult! I also love your cake. I read a recipe in an old James Beard cookbook about historic American cooking that had recipes like this in terms of relative measurements, but your cake method is far superior to those.

    • chef mimi April 15, 2019 at 9:49 PM - Reply

      Interesting. James Beard knew his stuff. He was pretty fascinating. Just on the cusp, a little before Julia Child, but still he did his thing. I need to learn more about him. I think he was one of the chefs who penned cookbooks for the Time Life series of Foods of the World. And he also said they were too much in a hurry…

  22. Abbe@This is How I Cook April 15, 2019 at 11:28 PM - Reply

    What a lovely cake and a wonderful heirloom scale. I really need to start weighing more often. And that includes myself!

    • chef mimi April 16, 2019 at 6:35 AM - Reply

      Oh, we’re not going to discuss that… especially after a long vacation of wining and dining…

  23. StefanGourmet April 16, 2019 at 1:23 AM - Reply

    I’ve always loved the name of this recipe ever since I first saw it as a boy in France. I actually think the name “pound cake” refers to the same: 1 pound each or flour, eggs, butter, and sugar. This is the first time I see it without baking powder (or flour and baking powder already mixed, called self-raising flour). You do a great job of not browning it too much, which will also dry out the cake. Interesting fact, in Italian this is called “plum cake”.

    • chef mimi April 16, 2019 at 6:30 AM - Reply

      Oh my god Stefan you just helped me out with a problem!!! I was going to make a similar cake using Amarena cherries for the blog and the recipe title is Plum Cake!!! (The recipe was attached to the cherry jar.) So I called the cake cherry cake when I began writing the post, since there are no plums. I tried to figure out if it was a translation issue, but to no avail. This definitely explains why, but why plum cake? Interesting about pound cake – I’ve never thought about why it’s called that.

    • myhomefoodthatsamore April 17, 2019 at 10:56 AM - Reply

      Here is an explanation – it started out in Germany then got carried over to Anglo-Saxon countries and ended up being pound-cake! https://panificiovisentin.wixsite.com/panificio-visentin/single-post/2016/02/26/LA-BIZZARRA-STORIA-DEL-PLUMCAKE

      • chef mimi April 17, 2019 at 11:10 AM

        Oh, thank you for this! I need to explain it in my blog post when I make the (plum) cherry cake!

  24. StefanGourmet April 16, 2019 at 1:24 AM - Reply

    PS goes without saying I’m with you on weighing ingredients

    • chef mimi April 16, 2019 at 6:30 AM - Reply

      It’s the smart way to cook and bake for sure.

  25. Linda Duffin April 16, 2019 at 4:36 AM - Reply

    It sounds perfect, Mimi, one of those cakes where the simplicity of the ingredients lets he flavours speak for themselves. I’m with you on the cups v scales argument. On some recipes I don’t mind if someone says a handful of this or a pinch of that, but with baking, precision is so important. As for white port (because I agree with Conor too) if I ever come back to the States I will bring you a bottle! Assuming I could ever get it through Customs, of course. Have a very happy Easter. Linda x

    • chef mimi April 16, 2019 at 6:40 AM - Reply

      Thanks, Linda. Precision is certainly key with baking, which is why I typically don’t bake. But I think it also shows a lacking on the part of a recipe author when they list, say… 1/2 cup almonds or 1/2 cup olives. Are they whole? What variety are they? Are they chopped? How finely are they chopped or sliced? Makes me crazy. I’ll be waiting for that port…

      • Linda Duffin April 16, 2019 at 8:40 AM

        Yes, you’ve probably noticed it’s not my forte either! The port’s on hold pending a visit. ;)

  26. sherry April 16, 2019 at 7:31 AM - Reply

    i love those scales mimi. so gorgeous. and i agree – i much prefer weighing ingredients to get an accurate measurement. cups and spoons are so ridiculously unreliable:-) cheers sherry

    • chef mimi April 16, 2019 at 8:42 AM - Reply

      Definitely. I so agree with you!

  27. thatskinnychickcanbake April 16, 2019 at 9:38 AM - Reply

    What a marvelous, retro scale! I’ve made a quatre quarts recipe from Dorie Greenspan years ago. It’s time for another thanks to your delicious recipe and tempting photos!

    • chef mimi April 16, 2019 at 10:35 AM - Reply

      AW, thanks!!!

  28. canelakitchen April 16, 2019 at 12:16 PM - Reply

    What beautiful cake and of course I love the scale ! amazing!!

    • chef mimi April 16, 2019 at 3:44 PM - Reply

      Thank you so much!

  29. sippitysup April 16, 2019 at 6:23 PM - Reply

    Four equal parts! Fantastic. I think I can remember that… GREG

    • chef mimi April 16, 2019 at 6:40 PM - Reply

      Exactly!

  30. kitchenriffs April 17, 2019 at 10:21 AM - Reply

    We use our scale ALL THE TIME! In fact i just made coffee using it (I weigh both the water and the coffee beans to get the right ratio). Anyway, great cake. Haven’t had this for ages and ages — and so good, I need to make it again. Yours looks terrific. Thanks!

    • chef mimi April 17, 2019 at 11:11 AM - Reply

      Oh wow! Now that’s very precise! Never thought about it for coffee. I love scales anyway. I used to work in a laboratory back when I was a geologist. I’ve always loved weighing stuff!

  31. myhomefoodthatsamore April 17, 2019 at 10:57 AM - Reply

    Ah this likes delightful, chef Mimi, très très proustian! Happy Easter!

    • chef mimi April 17, 2019 at 11:09 AM - Reply

      Gracie!

  32. Michelle April 19, 2019 at 8:23 PM - Reply

    What a marvelous scale!

    • chef mimi April 19, 2019 at 8:25 PM - Reply

      Thank you Michelle!

  33. Cynthia | What A Girl Eats April 22, 2019 at 2:26 PM - Reply

    I love this scale! You’re so right though, some recipes MUST be weighed! I love a classic and simple cake like this one. No icing for me! Tweeted and pinned!

    • chef mimi April 22, 2019 at 4:24 PM - Reply

      Aww, thanks Cynthia!

  34. FrugalHausfrau April 23, 2019 at 2:35 PM - Reply

    What a beautiful cake! I think I would like it just as is, not lighter and I can almost taste it with that jam!! How fun to see the old scale and of course, hearing about your wonderful Mom!

    • chef mimi April 23, 2019 at 4:01 PM - Reply

      Thanks! I’m not a huge cake eater, even this one, but I’ll always be able to remember the recipe!

      • FrugalHausfrau April 24, 2019 at 2:03 AM

        I’m not a big cake eater, either….I could see this lightly grilled and drizzled with a lime or other citrus syrup, though! Or just as is with berries and cream.

  35. Lynz Real Cooking April 25, 2019 at 6:35 AM - Reply

    Such fond and beautiful memories Mimi ❤️

    • chef mimi April 25, 2019 at 7:30 AM - Reply

      Thanks so much!

  36. kathryninthekitchen April 30, 2019 at 3:22 AM - Reply

    Hmm – I thought I left a reply but it has vanished into the ‘blog-ether’! What I wanted to say was thank you…. Madeira cake is something I never tire of, and something I often crave. This looks perfect 💛

    • chef mimi April 30, 2019 at 6:44 AM - Reply

      Thank you so much Kathryn!

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