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The name of this cake literally means 'four fourths', because the four principal ingredients – eggs, butter, sugar, flour - are in approximately equal proportions. In England the same cake is known as a Victoria Sandwich or Pound Cake. You can make it with two eggs, or three, or four, or more (if you have a large enough cake tin) so long as you respect the proportions: the same weight of flour, caster sugar and butter as of eggs.

Assuming you use 60 g eggs, the ingredients are:

3 eggs, separated into yolks & whites
180 grams caster sugar
180 grams softened butter
180 grams flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
grated rind of 1 lemon or orange

Beat the egg yolks with the caster sugar until thick and pale. Gradually incorporate the butter, which must be very soft but not melted or oily, then the sifted flour and flavouring.

Beat the egg whites until very firm, carefully fold in about a quarter of the whites and, when these are well incorporated, delicately fold in the remainder.

Pour mix into a well buttered tin (about 18 cm square or 20 cm diameter, for example) and bake in a preheated moderate oven (180 degrees C) for approximately 30 minutes, or until lightly browned and springy to the touch in the centre.

Cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn on to a wire rack.

Variations: Arrange seeded prunes or large seeded muscatel raisins on top of the cake, or add a layer of sliced apple or blueberries on top of half the batter, then spoon the remaining batter on top.

Note: This recipe calls for plain flour, the rising ingredient being the beaten egg whites, but self-raising flour can be substituted for a proportion of the flour if desired.

recipe by Professor Barbara Santich

growing up / cooking food / knowing how / feeling good