For a while there, I was wondering if I was ever going to bake anything again. I had the best ingredients on hand (Van Houten cocao, various Beanilla products) but no idea what to do with them. In the middle of the night, I’d find myself thinking about anything at all interesting that I could bake. Still at a loss, I turned to my Facebook fans.
I told them what ingredients I wanted to bake with and asked for their suggestions. Some suggestions were friands, double chocolate mud cupcakes and macarons. While they all sounded delicious, one suggestion really intrigued me – Queen of Sheba cake, which was recommended by Jessica. I had no idea what it was so had to google it.
The Queen of Sheba cake, or Reine De Saba, is a recipe from Julia Child. Apparently it comes from her first book, The French Chef, but it appears that it can also be found, with slightly different versions, in a few other of Julia’s cookbooks. In The French Chef, Julia says that it is the first French cake she had ever eaten, prepared by co-author Simon Beck, and she had never forgotten it.
I can’t figure out why this cake is called Queen of Sheba. Does anyone know?
The cake itself is a soft, moist, gooey chocolate cake. The preparation was fun and slightly different than I’m used to. It starts out normal, by creaming butter and sugar, but then you beat in egg yolks, followed by folding in a mixture of melted chocolate and brewed coffee, then adding almond meal and almond extract (this is where my only variation came in, by adding my Beanilla Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract instead because, although I like the smell of almond extract, I do not like the taste).
In another bowl, you will need to whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt and some sugar, then fold them in alternately with cake flour. You’re then ready to go.
My cake didn’t rise very much, although in the pictures I’ve seen on the internets, it doesn’t appear to be a very high cake. The top of the cake became shiny and a little crackly, sort of like a brownie. The inside of the cake is very soft and moist and the taste is just beautiful. I’m glad I used vanilla extract instead of almond.
What you absolutely need to note about this cake is that you must not overbake it. If you overbake it, you will lose that gooey texture that this cake is known for.
Originally, a recipe for a soft chocolate frosting accompanies this cake, but I chose not to use this. Instead, I used some leftover dulce de leche to drizzle on each individual slice and sprinkled over a few pink sea salt flakes. When served warm, this combination was absolutely to die for, so heavenly.
I am so thankful to Jessica for recommending the Queen of Sheba cake to me. This recipe was such a great way to break my bout of baker’s block!
On a separate note, this post sees the launch of my new watermark for my photos. After experiencing the trouble of someone using my photos to advertise their own “products” on Etsy, I have finally decided to take the time to watermark each photo. I have tried and will try to keep them in an area of the photo that will not be so annoying, and I apologize if you don’t like them, but if you have experienced someone stealing your photos, then I’m sure you would take appropriate action as well.
Adapted from Julia Child; the recipe I used comes from A Table For Two
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
1 stick (115g) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs (separated)
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1/3 cup almond meal
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup cake flour
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease and flour an 8-inch (20cm) springform cake tin. Melt chocolate and coffee in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
Cream the butter and the 2/3 cup sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time until well blended.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Sprinkle over the 1 tablespoon sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
Using a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate into the butter mixture, then stir in the almond meal and vanilla extract. Immediately stir in one-fourth of the egg white to lighten the batter. Delicately fold in one-third of the remaining egg whites and when partially blended, sift over one-third of the flour and continue folding. Alternate rapidly with one-third egg white and one-third flour until all are incorporated.
Spread the batter into the cake tin and level with an offset spatula. Place into the oven at middle level and bake for about 25 minutes.
Cake is done when it has puffed, and 2 1/2 to 3 inches around the circumference is set so that a skewer inserted into that area comes out clean; the center should move slightly if the pan is shaken, and the skewer comes out oily from the center.
Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pa and invert onto a rack to cool completely if using frosting, otherwise, cut yourself a slice while still warm, drizzle over pure dulce de leche and sprinkle over a few sea salt flakes.