French Citrus Cake

French Citrus Cake

French Citrus Cake

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 subtle citrus flavor.  Beautiful yellow hue. And fine texture. Oh mon Dieu!

Great with tea, coffee, or plain. Très délicieux!

french citrus cake steps

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 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled


Preheat the oven to 350F and butter a 9-by-5-inch 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.

French Citrus Cake

Baked Lemon-Garlic Steelhead Trout

Baked Lemon-Garlic Steelhead Trout

Baked Lemon-Garlic Steelhead Trout

After a dozen experiments with toppings for a fish fillet to bake in the oven, I am finally ready to announce the winner. It is butter-lemon-garlic topping. Very simple. Made with butter, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. That’s it.

But there is a secret. I use clarified butter instead of the good old regular (unsalted) butter. Why? Because clarified butter has that deep, nutty flavor that pairs wonderfully with the taste of a tender fish fillet. Steelhead is my favorite fish to use with this topping. But salmon works just as fine.

Here we go, step by step.

Steelhead Trout Fillet

This is steelhead fillet. With the skin on. 

Baked Lemon-Garlic Steelhead Trout

Steelhead skin side down. It looks just like salmon, doesn’t it?

Steelhead Trout Fillet

We place our fillet on a piece of aluminum foil before baking.

Lemon-Garlic Sauce

And here’s  our luscious topping. Clarified butter, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. 

Steelhead Trout Fillet with Lemon-Garlic Sauce

We slather our fillet with the topping. And sprinkle some fresh or dried dill weed on top (dried pictured).  

Baked Lemon-Garlic Steelhead Trout

Baked! Beautiful! Look at those juices seeping from the sides of the fish. You can’t beat the clean and bright color of the clarified butter. 

Baked Lemon-Garlic Steelhead Fillet

Serves 4


1 medium fillet  of steelhead trout, with skin on (can substitute salmon fillet)
2 tablespoons of clarified butter (can substitute regular unsalted butter, slightly melted and cooled)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Zest of 1/2 medium-size lemon
Juice of 1/2 medium-size lemon
Ground black pepper
Pinch of finely chopped fresh dill or dried dill weed (dried dill is less overpowering)


Preheat the oven to 450F.

Line a large rimless baking sheet with aluminum foil. The baking sheet should be large enough to fit the fillet; if the fillet doesn’t fit, cut it into half crosswise.

Place the fish skin side down on the foil.

In a small bowl combine the clarified butter, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to mix well. (You will notice how creamy the topping is in the photos. It is because I use clarified butter stored in a cool pantry, not in the refrigerator. Stored in the pantry, it remains soft, so no need to melt it, while in the refrigerator it hardens, so melt it slightly.  The same with regular unsalted butter – melt it slightly).

Spoon the mixture over the fillet and spread to  coat the fish. Sprinkle with dill.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the flesh is cooked through and flakes easily. If you used salmon fillet, you may need to cook it a little longer since salmon flesh is thicker and not as tender as that of steelhead.

Use a large spatula to lift the fillet off the foil paper, peeling the skin off the fish and leaving the skin on the pan. Transfer the fillet to a serving platter. Serve immediately with any side dish you prefer.

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