Reine de Saba Cake

A Reine de Saba [or Queen of Sheba] cake was one of Julia Child's favourites. There are lots of recipes of her version on blogs and websites, but this version is my French neighbour's family recipe. It always appears for birthdays and special occasions, which is how I got to try it. Persuading them to give me their recipe involved some making of English cakes on my part!

I don't know why it's named after the Queen of Sheba; one suggestion I found online said  ' it shares many of the Bible Queen's qualities - exotic, rich, irresistible and the stuff legends are made of'. Hmmm!

If you want to try JC's version here's a link to her Reine de Saba Cake. There's also a clip on You Tube of JC making this cake on her French Chef programme - here's the You Tube Clip. What an annoying voice she has!

It's a chocolate and almond cake, but a lot of the recipes online don't have any almonds!

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                Grease and line and 23cm springform tin

  350g dark chocolate [ my neighbour uses the lovely dark patisserie chocolate you can buy so easily in France] 6 eggs, 200g caster sugar, 3 tbspn potato flour or cornflour, 80g ground almonds, 100g salted butter, 80ml single cream and a pinch of salt

Separate the eggs and whisk the yolks and caster sugar together till white and fluffy. Add the potato flour or cornflour then the ground almonds, mixing well after each addition.
Melt 200g of the chocolate and the 100g of butter over simmering water. Pour this into a bowl, then
beat the egg whites into stiff peaks with a pinch of salt and add therm carefully to the chocolate mixture.
Spoon the batter into the tin and bake for about 30 mins. Don't over bake it. Leave to cool in the tin then put on a wire rack.
Grate the rest of the chocolate; put the cream in a pan and bring to the boil then pour it over the chocolate and mix together. JC's recipe added 2 tbspn of rum to the sauce.
Spread the chocolate icing over the cake.

I added my own twist to the recipe and put toasted almond flakes round the sides of the cake. They stick well to the icing!

The cake is a bit like a brownie, in that it's a bit fudgy in the middle. It's very rich, but it has a lovely delicate crumb which melts in your mouth. I liked the flaked almonds, as they gave another texture and some crunch to the cake. You have the moist almond cake, the smooth chocolate topping and the crunchy flaked almonds.

I'm not sure what Julia would make of my version, but I hope she'd like it!


Great looking cake, and I love the name of it (my mum always used to say to me, when I was getting 'uppity' - who do you think you are? The Queen of Sheba?)
Suelle said…
This looks lovely, and the recipe sounds good too.
I love this cake and your version looks lovely. I was told that the name came from the fact that it was dark and seductive like the Q of S. Well, maybe. I've always added almonds but I agree that many recipes don't.

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