It seems to be that time of year when it’s hard to step away from the oven.
It’s a lot of fun, but you always want to have some simple and quick recipes up your sleeve for entertaining friends and family who may be in town for the holidays.
That’s where the quatre quarts cake come in – it’s a classic French pound cake that uses four ingredients in equal (1/4) weight proportion.
For example, when using 3 standard eggs in a recipe such as here, weigh them using a kitchen scale. They should weigh about 6 oz altogether, giving you the base weight for the rest of your ingredients: flour, sugar, and oil/butter. I have converted these into cups in the recipe below, for ease, but now you know the basic trick!
The quatre quarts has endless variations, giving you a base to make a loaf or cake with added fruit or nuts or other seasoning flavorings.
My house is still not over the pumpkin ‘thing’ that has been such a large part of this festive season, so this is a pumpkin spice cake variation with the most delicious cinnamon-vanilla icing.
Pumpkin cake with cinnamon-vanilla icing
- 1 cup AP flour
- 1/4 cup spelt flour (you can substitute whole wheat)
- 2 T softened butter
- 1/3 cup olive oil (a bland and sweet variety)
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup raw cane sugar
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1 t nutmeg
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1/2 t ground cinnamon
- 1/2 t vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 T heavy cream
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a cake pan or line it carefully with parchment.
2. Melt the butter and whisk together vigorously with oil, eggs, and sugar. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients first, then add them to the rest of the batter.
3. Pour batter into the cake pan (it will be fairly thick) and smooth out the top with a knife.
4. Bake for approximately 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool slightly before turning it out and icing.
5. To make the icing, simply whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and heavy cream. If the icing is too thick, add a little bit more cream.
The icing will have attractive little flecks from the vanilla and cinnamon.
Notes: This a bit of a ‘wetter’ pound cake with the addition of the pumpkin puree, but because you’re baking it thinner than you would in a loaf pan, it still cooks through in about the same time.
Enjoy the cake with tea or coffee; it will keep well for a few days covered and at room temperature.