A Breton Pound Cake, known as “Quatre-Quarts” (four quarters) is the ubiquitous French snacking cake. It’s simple, not-too-sweet, just dense enough to be eaten with your hands and full of buttery flavors. This version is studded with lightly caramelized apple chunks to keep it moist and irresistible. A great year-round recipe for your baking repertoire!
In French, this Breton Pound cake is called a “quatre-quarts“, which translates to “four quarters”. It is ubiquitous in my home region of Brittany, but also widely known and enjoyed all throughout France. It consists – just like a classic pound cake – of four ingredients of equal weight: one quarter flour, one quarter butter, one quarter sugar and one quarter eggs. Finally, this pound cake traditionally doesn’t require any leavening agent (ie. baking powder) or flavoring (ie. vanilla extract).
So what makes this Breton Pound Cake different from a classic Pound Cake?
Instead of classic salted or unsalted butter, a Breton pound cake (“Quatre-Quarts”) calls for the use of sea-salted butter, known in French as “Beurre Salé”. This “Beurre Salé” is commonly consumed in the North-Western part of France (especially Brittany) and is used heavily in local baked goods (like in these Salted Butter Breton Sablés). It includes 3 to 5% more salt than the salted butter found in the US/Canada, which is in the form of sea-salt flakes. It gives this pound cake lovely salted-buttery notes, all while enhancing all the flavors.
If you live outside of France and can’t buy “Beurre Salé”, you can recreate it by using unsalted butter and sea-salt flakes (such as Fleur de sel or Maldon). I do not recommend you use salted butter as a substitute: it usually has a higher water content than unsalted butter, so it could give you an inconsistent result.
- Weigh your ingredients, rather than using cups. I am a huge advocate of using a food scale for baking. And this couldn’t be any truer when baking a Pound Cake. This recipe is all about having the exact equal weight of eggs, flour, sugar and butter – so using a food scale is essential. Start by measuring the weight of your 3 eggs (3 large eggs, out of the shell – it should equal about 150g), and use the exact same weight of flour, sugar and butter.
- Make sure the eggs are at room temperature. The eggs should be at room temperature for them to retain more air when beaten. If too cold, the whites will be stiffer and won’t welcome in air as much.
- Choose baking apples that will hold their shape when cooking and not turn into mush. My favorite baking apple varieties are Honey Crisp, Jonagold, Pink Lady, Granny Smith and Mutsu.
I hope you’ll love this Apple Breton Pound Cake recipe as much as I do! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment.
You may also like:
- Lemon Poppy Seed French Yogurt Loaf
- Classic French Spiced Bread (Pain d’Épices)
- Orange Yogurt Cake
- Classic French Apple Cake
- Salted Butter Breton Sables
For the apples:
2 tbsp (28g) unsalted butter
2 tbsp (25g) sugar
2 large baking apples, peeled, cored and diced (about 250g, once diced)
A pinch of sea salt flakes
For the cake:
2/3 cup (150g) unsalted butter
3 eggs large (150g), at room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1 cup + 2 tbsp (150g) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp sea salt flakes
Note: This recipe is based on 3 eggs weighing 150g. If your eggs weigh less or more, adapt your other ingredient measurements accordingly. See cooking notes above.
Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) with a rack in the middle. Grease a 9”x-5” loaf pan with butter and dust it lightly with flour.
Melt the 150g of butter (for the batter) in a saucepan and set aside to cool.
Transfer the batter to the prepare pan and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until golden and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and let cool to room temperature completely, before serving.
Did you make this recipe?
I’d love to know how it turned out! Please let me know by leaving a comment below, rate the recipe and/or share a photo on Instagram: tag @pardonyourfrench and hashtag it #pardonyourfrench. Bon Appetit!