Quatre-Quarts

Is it really Friday already?  This week has flown by!  Being Friday, you know what that means:  French Fridays with Dorie.

This week’s recipe is a simple cake called Quatre-Quarts, which translates directly to “four-fourths”.  Similar in concept to an American pound cake, the cake uses equal amounts of eggs, flour, sugar, and butter.

Cakes have been my nemesis since I moved to Reno over 11 years ago.  Growing up in sea-level Seattle I never had to be concerned with my altitude while baking.  Reno is apparently at a high enough altitude (~4400 feet) to affect the baking of cakes.  I suddenly had cakes that were not rising properly, sinking in the middle, spilling over the pan, and the texture was off.  The richer the cake, the more trouble I had.

I received the book High Altitude Baking, which explains a lot of the science behind baking and altitude and also gives suggestions for adjusting recipes.  For years I attempted small adjustments to my recipes with mixed results.  Whenever I did any Internet searches for help with high altitude baking, most people said they simply added an extra egg to their recipe.  I resisted trying this because it seemed too easy, but a year or so ago I started adding an extra egg to cake recipes and it worked!  The extra egg changes the texture a little bit, but cakes rise beautifully and the texture is way better than what I was getting without the extra egg.

If you live at a higher altitude, do you adjust your cake recipes?  If so, what method do you use?

Now, back to this week’s cake…  I debated whether or not to follow the recipe as written or to add the extra egg.  In the end, I decided to add the egg.  The result was a lovely, simple cake very similar to a pound cake, but lighter in texture.

I really liked this cake.  Dorie mentions that it is a common after-school snack cake, so my daughter enjoyed a piece when she got home from school.  We ate it plain, but the cake would also be lovely dressed up a bit.  Strawberries and whipped cream would be good!

My daughter is notorious for helping herself to cakes and other baked goods left unattended.  This cake became a victim.  Luckily it happened after my pictures were taken!

Who ate this cake - a little mouse or a little girl?

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16 Comments

Filed under Cooking

16 responses to “Quatre-Quarts

  1. Karen, Your cake looks so beautiful! Nice and high…did you use an 8 inch pan? Love that your little girl ate a piece off the top…my kids used to do things like that. Made me smile. Have a great weekend!

  2. HAHA!! I little mouse attacked my cake this morning, too!!

  3. I’d also be curious to know if you used an 8″ pan cause your cake does look taller.

  4. Karen

    My “little mouse” makes me smile too. 🙂 I did use an 8″ pan.

  5. Your cake rose beautifully! I love how light and airy it looks. How cute that your daughter helped herself. 🙂

  6. nana

    I found that information so interesting about high altitudes. Living on the
    east coast, I never gave it a thought. If an extra egg makes a cake
    look that delicious, it was certainly worth it. Tricia and I found this to
    be a good recipe, and I will definitely use it again.

  7. What a beautiful cake! I’ve never baked at high altitudes before, but I’m sure it was frustrating before you figured out the secret! I ate mine plain too, but seeing everyone’s lovely toppings, I can’t wait to make this again with more adornment.

  8. That’s too funny about your daughter! My kids would do it too if they could reach the counter! 😉

    We moved to Colorado from the very much sea-level Alabama and I’ve had some trouble adjusting. I typically just lower the amount of either baking powder or soda, depending on the recipe. It works okay but I’d love to find something that works every single time, you know? I’m trying the egg method next time!

    • Karen

      I tried the method of lowering the amount of baking soda/powder for several years with O.K. results, but like you found that it does not work every time. If you try the egg method, let me know how it works out!

  9. That is too funny about your daughter. We have a similar story in our house – we call my youngest daughter “little bear” because after she has been in something, it looks like its been mauled by a bear 🙂
    Your cake doesn’t look altitude challenged at all!

  10. High altitude baking can be a big challenge. I’m glad you’re getting the hang of it but can imagine the frustration in the mean time! The “after” shot of your cake is too funny. I guess your daughter went directly for it without bothering with a knife! You know, only tasty baked good ought to have that effect so I think it speaks volume about the quality of your cake!

  11. Well your cake looks perfect so looks like the extra egg trick worked. I do not live at high altitude, but I do understand the frustration of having to re-learn how to bake because all of the base ingredients (flour, butter, baking powder) are different in Germany and it took me quite a while to get the hang of baking over here. Happy to hear that you have found something which works.

  12. LOL!! I like that she didnt try to use a spoon or butterknife at all! 🙂 I never would have thought that high altitude would effect baking… nuts! I miss Seattle myself!

  13. It is beautiful, light and airy! I have the opposite problem living in the California desert below sea level, don’t really have to adjust for altitude, but definitely have to adjust for room temperature –

  14. You’re cake turned out beautifully! I love that your daughter served herself!

  15. Oh, this post brought back such fond memories of “goûters” from my childhood. 🙂

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