This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Quatre-Quarts is what we americans know as pound cake. Quatre-Quarts actually means four-fourths, because the cake is traditionally made with equal measures of eggs, flour, sugar, and butter.
Dorie of course jazzes her cake up with a few additions, including vanilla extract. Which reminded me that we americans throw vanilla extract into almost every dessert we make, while the europeans use it much more sparingly. Since moving to Germany I have often wondered about this. When I first moved, each trip back to the US was equal parts family visit and supply run. My suitcases on the return trip would be loaded with all the goodies which I can’t buy here. Almost 5 years later I have mostly learned to live without these supplies, but vanilla extract remains one of the few items that I routinely buy when I am in the US. The german supermarkets sometimes carry vanilla extract, but it seems to be more of a seasonal item which pops up around Christmas, and I have yet to see a single german recipe which calls for it. Much more common is vanilla sugar, which comes in little individual paper packets and gets thrown into some cake recipes.
Sorry if I’m boring you here. I just find it fascinating how so many of the basic ingredients which we take for granted are used (or not) in different corners of the world.
But moving on. Dorie’s Quatre-Quarts was easy to throw together, simple, and delicious. This is cake in its most basic form with no frills or thrills, exactly the kind of recipe which is so easy to overlook in favor of the book’s more exotic offerings. Exactly the kind of recipe which finds you wondering as you munch on a slice, “why don’t I make this more often?”
I will offer one quick little warning though. When I first tried this cake, about an hour after it came out of the oven, I found it to be a little too eggy tasting. However, after letting the cake sit and think about itself for a few hours more, the flavors had settled in and my next slice was delicious.