Quatre Quarts Minis with Blood Orange Rum Sauce

Quatre Quarts Pound Cake 1

In a moment of serendipitous timing, I heard on Tuesday — with only minutes to spare and scrambling for my headphones — that Dorie Greenspan was about to appear on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” to chat about Tuesdays with Dorie (the original Dorie-centric baking group that preceded French Fridays with Dorie, to which I belong).

She’s just so delightful. I mean, she just really is. 

Dorie is the aunt I wish I had growing up. Witty, kind, and French-hip with a back-pocket-full of crazy-wonderful adventures, I can imagine my young self, elbows on the table, chin propped in both palms, hanging on her every word, googly-eyed with adoration. Delightful.

(Listen to the NPR interview here.)

My involvement with FFwD waxes and wanes, depending on the recipe selection for the week, but whenever dessert appears on the docket, I’m likely to dive right in (even if I don’t make it in time for the weekly Friday unveilings). Dorie is a fabulous, adventurous cook, but her talent really shines in baking.

Honestly, it’s not terribly difficult to become a functional, creative, recipe-disregarding home cook with some patient and persistent practice. Baking, however, requires the discipline of mathematics and science. It’s all about proportion and chemistry. No one “wings” a cake. There are formulas to be followed and mastered. From genoise to pound cake to focaccia and crusty French baguettes: it’s all in the formula.

The decision to replace white chocolate with dark chocolate in a recipe must come with a preponderance of the balance of fats in the ingredients, not just a casual measure-pour-shrug. A flopped souffle is a sign that math and science is punishing you for your disrespect of the formula. Start over, no soup for you!

[Side note: In editing this post, I'm kind of giggling over my use of "preponderance" in the previous paragraph. How serious I was typing that sentence, brow furrowed, fingers pounding, "Preponderance! Formula! PREPONDERANCE!" I really need to lay off the morning espresso.]

So I say this with profound respect: Dorie is, first and foremost, a baker’s baker.

And my long lost aunt.

Quatre Quarts Pound Cake 2

This week’s FFwD recipe for French pound cake was another serendipitous moment: when January rolls around, I eyeball every recipe from the perspective of its ability to accommodate the addition of citrus. Blood oranges are my favorite (the sliced orange above) but any will do, including mandarins with the greenery still attached.

Fruit, in fact, is the one thing that prevents me from labeling myself a locavore. Avocados, oranges, limes and lemons … methinks I could not live without these things. And they’re not exactly found in abundance here in the mid-est of the Midwest.

Someday, though, I’m going to go out and buy myself a Meyer Lemon tree. I hear they do just fine indoors in the winter.

Quatre Quarts Pound Cake 3

Quatre Quarts Pound Cake 4

Mini French pound cakes infused with orange juice and rum was just the thing to ward off winter blues. And baking a Dorie recipe is a complete joy because you know — if you follow her formula — it will always turn out right.

See how the other members of French Fridays with Dorie fared with their French pound cakes on Friday.


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Quatre Quarts Minis with Blood Orange Rum Sauce

(cake recipe adapted from this recipe)

In keeping with the rules of FFwD, we don’t print the recipes, so this is not Dorie’s recipe. The cake recipe, however, is very similar, since all quatre quarts recipes are derived from the same 4-equal-parts formula: flour, eggs, sugar, butter — there’s not a lot of room for variation. The orange-rum sauce is my addition, and I made mini cakes rather than one whole cake.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 20 minutes

Yield: 12 mini cakes

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs, separated
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
1 tablespoon dark rum

1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice (1 medium blood orange)*
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray 12 mini brioche tins or 12 3″ cake rings with non-stick spray. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat the egg whites in a mixer until glossy and form stiff peaks.

3. In a large bowl whisk together sugar and egg yolks until they are thick and pale. Add butter, vanilla and rum and whisk together until smooth. Whisk in the flour mixture.

4. Using a rubber spatula fold in one-quarter of the egg whites. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites, until mixed (it’s okay to have a few streaks of egg whites). Spoon the batter into the prepared tins or rings three-fourths full.

6. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Cakes are ready when lightly golden and a cake tester inserted in the center of one cake comes out clean.

7. While the cakes are baking, make the sauce. Bring the blood orange juice, sugar and rum to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then remove from heat.

8. When the cakes have cooled for 5 minutes, use a thin toothpick (or other clean, narrow stick) to poke 10 holes into each cake. Gently, slowly pour the rum sauce over the cakes. The cakes should be somewhat saturated, and the tops of the cakes should be pink (the pink will fade as the sauce dries). Let sit for a few minutes, then move to a clean surface (clean off the bottoms of the tins, if necessary). Let cool.

9. Gently remove the cakes from the tins or rings (if using rings, you can run a small knife around the edge to loosen cake). Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

*To simplify things, rather than worrying about an exact measure of 1/4 cup, just squeeze the orange juice into a container and then measure it. Use the same amount of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of rum.

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Comments

  1. I have been scouring the stores up here for those elusive red-orange beauties. They have not come out of hiding yet.
    A co-worker and I had the grow your own Meyer lemon tree in a pot & bring it indoors during the brutal Northeast winters just yesterday. I think I almost talked her into it…
    Lovely variation. Orange & rum soaking sauce = totally awesome idea. Totally.

  2. I love that you used Brioche pans! And, I’ll bet your blood orange glaze wsa just perfect. Thanks for the link to Dorie’s interview – I can’t wait to listen to her.

    Very nicely done!

  3. Your mini cakes make me want to break out the mini-bundt pan and forget I planned to sit this one out. Those edges look just delightful.

  4. Just delightful! I like the minis with their topping and the blood oranges which I’ve yet to see in the market this winter. I will have to do a better job seeking them out!

  5. Your cakes looks so beautiful made in your brioche molds…very creative! I love having individual portions. Have a great weekend!

  6. This post is just delightful! And I love the mini-portions, too. You’re making me want to forget my throw-caution-to-the-wind attitude about cooking and put on my serious face and do some serious baking with Dorie.

  7. What darling little cakes, they look almost too good to eat. Though I’m sure that I could manage to eat them if pressed:-)

  8. Loved reading your post…fun…and thanks for the Dorie link, I’ll be using it. And…your minis are so great. They really came out well…we use mini sizes for so many things at our house…I will remember this. Well done.

  9. I love her also! I have her book on my ipad and it is my go to place for desserts. I will come back and listen to the link, I missed hearing that despite the fact that my radio is permanently on NPR!

    I too cannot actually call my self a locavore even though I am doing my best to get there. One of my big problems is olive oil and then of course, Utah is not known for its citrus fruit or for vineyards. We do the best we can with our resources and limitations and obsessions!

    Lovely post, as always!

    xxoo,

    RMW

  10. What a beautiful adaptation! My first thought was “how cute”, followed immediately by “how yummy!”

  11. LOVE that you used the fluted bread pans. And what a great idea to have a blood orange sauce!

  12. OH WOW! SSSOOO pretty!!

  13. Your cakelets are so very pretty! I love blood orange and can imagine how wonderful your sauce must have tasted with the quatre-quarts. Well done!

  14. Your cakes are adorable! And you had me cracking me as I read your side note! :P

  15. What cute babycakes! Adriana’s comment reminds me that I have a (never used) mini-bundt cake pan. I’m going to break it out and make your version, maybe with some Meyer lemons. What an inspiring post. And, I totally agree with out about Dorie. I think she’s my long-lost aunt too. Thanks for the link to the interview. Can’t wait to listen to it.

  16. Your little cakes are adorable! I enjoyed your comments on a failed souffle being punishment for disrespecting the formula. I was telling my husband the other day that I felt embarrassed that all his coworkers go on about how great a baker I am, when I feel like I’m just following a recipe,a nd that they could do it if they tried. He told me that they’re all type A personalities who think they know better than a recipe, so no, it wouldn’t work if they did it. The distinction finally made sense to me! I never understood why someone wouldn’t just do what the recipe says. lol

  17. Why hello there! Don’t these look familiar! We both used brioche molds for our cakes this week. :) Mine are slightly bigger and yielded 8 cakes in total. The bane of my locavore existence is bananas so I totally get what you mean about citrus and avocado!

  18. Love the orange and rum infusion – and the minis are so cute.

  19. Blood oranges are a current obsession! Love the use of them with the rum, and the brioche pans. Beautiful photos and post!

  20. Your lil’ cakes look just precious! Your sauce sounds incredible too! If I had to rely on local fruit, I’d be eating only preserved apples, pears and berries all winter! As good as they are, I need more variety sometimes :)

  21. I heard Dorie on NPR too and was also struck by how nice she sounded – just so real and genuine. I love your mini cakes, they are so cute. I also love the idea of the blood orange glaze, blood oranges are my favorite too.

  22. Love the little individual cakes; they look so delicious. Did you have any trouble removing from the brioche molds? Why pour the sauce before taking from the molds rather than after?

  23. Wow…beautiful looking quatre quarts! I love the mini versions, and the orange rum combo sounds delicious! Great photos, too!

  24. your the second person this week who has used blood oranges in a cake! :) Love it!

  25. Perfect use of blood orange sauce. Your pictures are beautiful and it looks like your mini french pound cakes turned out perfectly!

  26. Beautiful post and beautiful pictures! I agree completely with your locavore statement. Anything that brings such a variety of fruits and veg to Oklahoma can’t be all bad! Making small cakes is inspired!

  27. I was lucky enough to go to a cooking class taught by Dorie when she was promoting AMFT. It was a wonderful experience. I love your brioche molds. I don’t know that I would have thought of them for these cakes; it’s almost like they’re practical!!

  28. These are just gorgeous! I will have to be on the lookout for mini brioche pans, what a great way to multi purpose them. The blood orange and rum sauce sounds amazing. I don’t think I’ve had the rum citrus pairing before, yum!

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