I spotted this recipe in a cookbook during our recent trip to the local library. Shamelessly disregarding a myriad of wonderful French recipes offered with the author’s own twist, my eyes fell on a citrus cake recipe. It was for quatre-quarts, which is French pound cake. I imagined the cake’s aroma. Lemon and orange together. Oh my!
The book got checked out on a whim, brought home, the recipe got bookmarked, the cake was visualized one last time to confirm I had to make it, then I had a sudden urge to bake it. And I did. It turned out just like I imagined. No, actually much better. With a subtle citrusy flavor. Beautiful yellow hue. And fine texture. Oh mon Dieu!
Great with tea, coffee, or plain. Très délicieux!
French Citrus Cake (Quatre-Quarts Aux Agrumes)
Adapted from Rachel Khoo’s “The Little Paris Kitchen”
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 + 1/4 cups superfine sugar (if you have regular granulated sugar, just pulse it in a food processor a few seconds to obtain superfine sugar)
2 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange (about 1 tablespoon of each)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (8 oz / 225 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC) and butter a 9-by-5-inch (22-by-12-cm) loaf pan.
Separate the eggs. In a bowl, using a mixer, beat the eggs whites with half of the sugar 5 to 8 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks and the other half of the sugar until thick and pale in color.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, zest, and baking powder together.
Fold the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture, then pour in the melted and cooled butter, stirring gently until the butter is just incorporated into the mix. Finally, carefully fold in the egg whites, gently stirring to fully incorporate the eggs into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until the point of a knife or a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center. (My cake slightly sunk in the middle. Maybe it was supposed to, I am not sure. But this did not affect the texture of the cake. In fact, it made it look pretty when the cake was sliced.)
Allow to cool in the pan before serving. The cake is best eaten the same day, but it will keep in an airtight container or wrapped in a plastic wrap for up to 3 days.