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
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.