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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Queen of Sheba Cake for Julia Child's 100th Birthday

In celebration of a culinary giant and amazing woman, I made Julia a birthday cake.  I learned about the JC100 celebration only a few days ago...I know, I live in a cave.   But, honestly, I grew up watching this woman not ever knowing what a influence she would make in the cooking world.  Or, my own world for that matter. 

I have mostly watched Julia on PBS with her Baking with Julia series.  I was so inspired that I bought that book, almost 20 years now.  I have great dreams of finally mastering croissants and brioche.  This cake, Reine de Saba, isn't in that book, but I found it on the list of Julia's favorite recipes that her publisher created for folks like me to make and post in homage to Julia's talents and passion.

My favorite quote from Julia is, "Never apologize for your food."  I'm still working on that...

Not a lot of step-by-step today as it's actually a very rough day for me.  I woke with really, really bad vertigo.  I wasn't so sure after the initial cold sweats whether I would be able to stand.  But, with some time, I'm feeling better.  It may have been the dinner last night...Unlikely, though.  Or this heat wave we're having in the Central Valley. 

More likely am feeling the great, great loss of Mrs. Finch who passed away last night, thankfully peacefully, and in the presence of her family who love her.  She was her own force of nature...Much like Julia.

Just a few shots of the process this time...I just wasn't feeling well.  This is the pre-bake, post-bake and out-of-pan shots. 
Isn't this beautiful?  You do have to be careful with the frosting bowl in the ice bath as the frosting in contact with the bowl can start to freeze.  No worries, though...It melted right in.  :)  I garnished with left over ground almonds and slivered almonds. 

It really is a very decedent dessert--very rich and dense--for all you chocolate lovers! 

Reine De Saba   
Adapted by An Uneducated Palate for Reine De Saba as excerpted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Copyright © 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf.

4 ounces or squares semi-sweet chocolate melted with 2 tbsp rum (or coffee)
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/3 cup ground almonds
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup cake flour, sifted

Glacage au Chocolat (Chocolate-butter Icing)
2 ounces (2 squares) semi-sweet baking chocolate
2 Tb rum or coffee
6 Tb unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Butter and flour the cake pan. Line with parchment paper round.
3. Set the chocolate and rum in a small bowl in the microwave, using 10 sections at a time.  Set aside to cool.
4. Cream butter and sugar together until pale yellow and fluffy.
5. Beat in the egg yolks.
6. Beat the egg whites and salt in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.
7. With a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate mixture into the butter and sugar mixture, then stir in the almonds, and almond extract.  Immediately stir in one-fourth of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter.  Fold in a third of the remaining whites, alternating with the sifted flour in 3 more parts.  
8. Pour the batter into the pan, spread out evenly.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Cake is done when it has puffed, and 2 1/2 to 3 inches around the edge has set,  and a toothpick comes out clean.  The middle will be a little soft.
9. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Loosen the edge with a knife around the edge of the pan, and invert on the rack.  Let cool for at least an hour until completely cooled.  
10. Frost with the chocolate-butter icing and decorate with chopped or slivered almonds.

To make the icing
1.Place the chocolate and rum in a medium bowl and melt in the microwave as above.    
2. Beat in the butter into the chocolate mixture in tablespoon increments. 
3. Beat over a large bowl with ice and water until chocolate mixture has cooled to spreading consistency.  It will go from a dark to light color.  Spread over the cake quickly.

Just like the jordan almonds at weddings, this cake combines the bitter and sweet of life in one amazing and luscious cake. 


P.S.  Okay, so I used bittersweet chocolate AND I snuck in some espresso powder (1/2 tsp) in the chocolate mixture for the cake.  Shhh...don't tell Julia!
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  1. Mm, that looks awesome! Super fudgy.. is there anything better??

  2. Sorry you're not feeling well--I was surprised to see on a couple of tablespoons of booze...I knew you must be ill:-D

    Happy Birthday Julia; a gutsy woman who crossed the lines into the professional kitchen and made male heads turn!! XOXO

  3. I didn't even know who julia child was until a few years ago when i watched the movie and that's when i realized how ignorant i was to not have read about her sooner! She is an inspiration!
    Awesome work with this's so chocolatey and fudgy And i loveee tye name ;)

  4. Hey Ellen,

    Now this looks delicious!! Very chocolate-y... is there anything better? Hope you are feeling better :) I'm thinking of you!


  5. I loved watching Julia and hearing her unmistakable voice. Watching her as she made an amazing dish look easy. She would absolutely love your cake just as I do. Thank you so much for sharing on Thursday's Treasures Week 47! <3 and hugs!

  6. I had quickly looked at the pictures for this amazing cake while sharing this site with friend. Only now when Forrest and I sat down to read the recipe did I see the reference to my Mom. Thanks Ellen- a true observation about someone who loved you very much.-Betsy


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