Quatre Quarts Gateau

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My mother, who just turned 91, 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.

Summer Berry Pie

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There is an obvious lack of desserts on my blog. For one reason, I prefer savory over sweet any time, any day. But the other reason is that if I do make dessert, I’ll eat it. I mean, I’ll finish it.

When I made the mille crêpe cake for my birthday a while back, my husband and I both had a piece, and then I asked him if he’d want more. He shook his head no. He can get a little carried away as well, like when you get a hankering for that dessert that you know is in the fridge, and it’s 9 o’clock at night.

So into the garbage went that beautiful cake. I know, a waste, but I don’t really know anyone who wants to eat desserts either.

Recently I saw a Strawberry Slab Pie online. It was probably on Pinterest, and when I clicked on the pretty photo it went to the Country Living website.

It’s a strawberry pie baked in a jelly-roll pan and decorated with flowers. A fruit dessert is typically healthier than, say, a chocolate cheesecake to have sitting in the refrigerator taunting me at night. But what intrigued me about this pie is what the pie-maker did with the flower cut-outs of crust.

As with my mille crepe cake, this would be another baking/pastry challenge for me, because I’ve never done much more with pie crust dough than lattice.

First I had to locate some flower cookie cutters, which I found on Sur La Table.

What I also like about this pie is that the filling is basically all berries, plus a little sugar and cornstarch. None of that goopy pie-filling-like stuff.

Here’s the recipe:

Summer Berry Pie

Pie Crust, 2 or 3 recipes

All-purpose flour, for work surface
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
2 1/2 pound strawberries, hulled, sliced
1 pound whole blueberries
1 large egg white

To make the pie, preheat oven to 425°F with the rack in lowest position. On a lightly floured surface, roll 2 recipes of dough. Transfer to a pan and trim. Crimp and chill.

I obviously used a shallow, large, round terracotta pan to make this pie instead of a jelly-roll pan.

Roll remaining dough to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick. Cut dough with assorted flower-shaped cutters. Transfer flowers to prepared baking sheet, and chill.

Stir together sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. Add strawberries and blueberries and toss gently to combine.

Transfer to bottom crust, packing tightly into pan.

Whisk together egg white and 2 teaspoons water in a bowl. Brush dough flowers with egg wash. Arrange dough flowers, slightly overlapping, on top of berries. Brush edges of dough with egg wash.

Freeze 20 minutes while preheating the oven to 425 degrees F.

Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 50-60 minutes. I had to adjust the temperature after 30 minutes; my crust browned too much. If this happens, place a piece of foil over the top of the pie and continue baking at 400 degrees.

Remove the pie from the oven and let cool until set. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I served the pie with whipped cream.

I baked some pie-crust cookies separately, and stuck one in the whipped cream for decoration. I’m obviously not a stylist. So I ate it instead.


So, although a bit challenging but not stressful, I will leave the fancy pie-crust makers to their fancy pie crusts. The good thing is that the pie itself was very good.

I love that it’s just about crust and berries.

Check out this pie from Williams-Sonoma.

Pimm’s Float

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This recipe is brought to you by Food Network chef Sunny Anderson. I wish I could claim it as my own, because it’s fabulous! Every summer I swear I’m going to make it, stack it with other recipe cards, and promptly forget about it. But not this summer.

If you love Pimm’s, and you love ice cream, then you’ll love this treat!
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I didn’t follow Sunny’s recipe to the T – hers included strawberries, and being passed strawberry season, I instead decided on blackberries and raspberries. So here’s what I did.

Sunny’s Pimm and Proper Ice Cream Float
Serves 4 or 2, depending on the serving size

1 pound raspberries and blackberries
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup water

First place the berries in a small pot. Add the sugar and water. Bring to a boil and stir gently, until the sugar dissolves. Put the lid on, and lower the heat.

After about 5-6 minutes, remove the lid, and cook about 1 minute more. Place the pot in the refrigerator and let the berries and syrup cool completely.
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To complete the ice cream floats, you will need:
Pimm’s
Vanilla ice Cream
Fresca

To prepare the floats, but about 2 heaping tablespoons of the berries and syrup in the bottoms of ice cream glasses. Add an equal volume of Pimm’s to both. Scoop out the ice cream and place it in the glasses.


Right before serving, add the Fresca.

I also served a skewer of blackberries, just for fun.
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Sunny not only made a strawberry syrup in her original recipe, she also used strawberry ice cream. I chose vanilla because I wanted to taste the other flavors.

After tasting these, I’d still opt for vanilla. But I’m sure you could come up with many different ideas for these floats!
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They’re really refreshing, and would make a fun dessert after a summer dinner party as well!


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Forgotten Pudding

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This recipe comes from Nigella Lawson, but not from a cookbook that I know of… I printed it, so perhaps it’s from her blog?

The reason I wanted to make it again, and also post on it, because it’s so unique.

Here’s a quote:

“There is a wonderful poetry to the name of this dessert which, thankfully, once eaten could never be forgotten. It’s an old, old recipe popularly exhumed – I believe by the late, great Richard Sax. Think of it as a kind of marshmallow-based pavlova. That’s to say, you whip the egg whites as if making meringue, spread on a jelly roll pan, and put in an oven which you immediately switch off, leaving the pudding to cook overnight – hence, “forgotten.”

So that pretty much explains it. I own one book by Richard Sax; if I were more of a baker, I’d own more. His book is an incredible reference.

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I had ten egg whites leftover from when I made creme fraiche ice cream, which used only yolks. So I knew I couldn’t waste them.

Typically meringues or a pavlova come to mind when one has leftover egg whites, but I’m so glad I remembered this recipe, and you will be too, if you’ve never made it before!

Forgotten Pudding
adapted from Nigella Lawson

6 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
Berries
White sugar

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Generously butter a jelly roll pan.
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Place the egg whites in a large bowl, and have your electric mixer handy, as well as the sugar and vanilla.
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Begin whipping the egg whites. Once they’re foamy, begin gradually adding the sugar. There are no pictures of me doing this, or adding the vanilla, as I don’t have three hands.
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The egg white will become more foamy.
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Then they will become more thick and opaque.
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Keep whipping on high speed until the whites are stiff and glossy.
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Pour the meringue into the jelly roll pan, and immediately spread it out evenly, filling the corners, and smoothing the top as best you can.

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Place the pan in the oven.
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Close the oven door, then immediately turn off the oven. Do not open the oven door until the next day. I prepared my forgotten pudding approximately 10 hours after putting it in the oven.
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Toss your choice of berries with a little sugar and let them macerate for a bit. I used superfine sugar.
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Right before serving, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Place the cake on a serving platter, and cover the cake with the whipped cream. I did mine individually.
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Then top with the berries. Slice the cake into 12 servings.

The forgotten pudding ends up like a meringue that you left out at room temperature for a few days. It’s sticky but soft. There’s no real crunch to it.

In the original recipe, Nigella also used passion fruit, but I couldn’t get my hands on any.
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By the way, I looked at Nigella’s blog, and there was the recipe. So here is the link for the original forgotten pudding!

Berry Sauce

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Just in case some of you have not made a quick berry sauce, I thought I’d show you what I do. No cooking involved. And, you get to pick your berries.

Here’s the recipe:

Berry Sauce

2 bags frozen berries of choice – I used blackberries and raspberries – thawed
2 tablespoons white sugar
Good splash of liqueur like Triple Sec, which I used, or Chambord

Place all of the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.
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Then pour the mixture through a sieve to catch all of the seeds, which I personally find annoying in berry sauces if they’re not removed.
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When you’re done, you’re done. Serve cold or at room temperature.
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It’s especially good with a semifreddo!
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