Classic Butter Cake

I procrastinated on making the classic French butter cake quatre-quarts for this week’s French Fridays with Dorie. This is a close cousin of the North American pound cake relying on equal parts butter, sugar, flour, and eggs. The technique is what sets the two apart though I’ve made both so many times in the past the excitement has left me long ago.Quatre-Quarts: Cute

As I reluctantly scaled out my ingredients, I knew that I could not follow the recipe as written. I would be bored and baking without passion does not give me joy. I don’t bake because somebody made me do it. I bake because it makes me happy. So how can the simple quatre-quarts recipe make me happy? Try beurre noisette, brioche molds, and rumtopf.


Quatre-Quarts: CurlQuatre-quarts does not depend on aerating butter with sugar. It gets its volume from baking powder and whipped eggs. Using melted butter immediately turned my thoughts to nutty aromatic beurre noisette, butter that is cooked until the milk solid just beginning to caramelize. The extra depth of flavour made these butter cake more sophisticated. Since making beurre noisette evaporates much of the water content in butter, you’ll need to start with about 9-10 tablespoons of butter to yield 8 tablespoons of beurre noisette.

Playing with shapes also made the recipe a bit more interesting to me. Loaf pan? Round cake pan? Yawn. How about my rarely-used set of brioche molds? I love the deep ridges and the sloped sides. Besides, baking the cakes into individual portions mean I can easily set them out at the office kitchen for the enjoyment of coworkers. When the 3pm coffee break comes around, it’s never easy to resist the aroma of homemade cakes looking all adorable and innocent.

The recipe generously filled eight regular size brioche molds. So generous, in fact, that the batter overflowed a bit during baking. That funny curl you see in the photo is the result of overzealous filling. I lucked out though with my non-stick tins. They slid out just fine with a bit of careful manoeuvring while the cakes were still warm. Bonus: those extra crunchy edges were extra tasty!

As for my rumtopf, I’m on a mission. You see, back when I started my preserving project, I totally expected my rumtopf to fail. Preserving fruit in copious amount of sugar and rum over an entire growing season sounded like fun but I really thought it would get mouldy. So I lowered my risk by getting four smaller jars of rumtopf going at the same time. By “smaller”, I meant each jar was still a whopping 2L (2 quarts). Well, so the rumtopfs are ready and none of them gone bad. Yes, you read me right. I am the proud owner of  8 quarts of rumtopf! I really ought to throw a party. Seriously.

I’m in desperate need to use my rumtopf in everything. Recipes calling for dark rum? Score! So even though the quatre-quarts only calls for a tablespoon of rum, I reached for my glass crocks. This is literally a drop in the bucket but every little bit helps. Oh, the drunken pieces of fruit are absolutely delicious. I thought they would be mushy but no, just pleasantly boozy! Had I not served all the cakes at work, a large ladle of the boozy frutti tutti would be a perfect match.

Surely I was not the only one who wanted to do something creative with this recipe. Check out other bloggers at French Fridays with Dorie and see what they did!

(Originally published at Dessert By Candy)

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