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Queen of Sheba aka Reine de Saba Cake

by on July 22, 2009 · 21 comments

Some friends are celebrating the release of the Julie & Julia movie by making French food and drinking French wine. I couldn’t go to the party, so I decided to celebrate at home by making Julia’s famous Queen of Sheba cake, which Julia says was the first French cake she’d ever tasted.

The recipe looks simple on paper, but it’s one of those cakes where little things like sifting before measuring, using the right size pan, the right type of flour and folding properly are absolutely critical to its success. And I’m only mentioning that because one person who might not have followed directions brought down the overall Epicurious fork rating by giving it one fork. I thought it deserved four. It’s soft, has a bit of almond flavor and an almond meal texture, very chocolaty (use the best), and has an ultra-rich glaze that’s spread relatively thin but is every bit as satisfying as a thick layer because it’s mostly butter.

Like its namesake, this cake was enticing. Fuzz saw me cutting a piece, put away her popsicle, and asked if she could have cake too. She asked for more (I said no) so I guess you could say it’s kid friendly — at least if you make it with brewed coffee, which is what I used. Next time, rum!


Here’s a cut photo. I’ll probably do a re-take photo tomorrow, but it’s late and I want to go watch TV.



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Published on July 22, 2009

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Fallon July 22, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Wow… I wish I could have a piece right now!

JL July 22, 2009 at 10:11 pm

That looks absolutely divine! The cut piece looks like it’s just floating above that plate in that picture :)

Mary July 22, 2009 at 10:52 pm

You’ve made me feel very guilty. I’m not going to say how many years ago I made this cake. I don’t think you were even born yet. I remember it and the Queen Mother Cake as both being delicious. Yours looks perfect, Anna.

Rosemary July 23, 2009 at 3:51 am

I want to make this as a going away cake for my mother – she loves chocolate and hopefully this will keep her remembering how good home is while she is overseas!

Louise July 23, 2009 at 5:55 am

Looks wonderful. Great choice of recipes. I hope you put a review on Epicurious to help bring the rating back up. I read the reviews yesterday and also think it was lack of executing the directions.

Carrie July 23, 2009 at 6:54 am

I grew up with this cake – my mom always made it for special occasions and parties. She said Julia really knows what she’s doing with this one. It’s best if slightly underbaked – nice and moist and gooey in the middle. I’ve never made it myself but I really have to so I can carry on my family tradition.

Heather - Ghost Baker July 23, 2009 at 6:54 am

This cake looks almost truffle-like and very moist instead of having a dense crumb – how would you describe it? Can’t wait to try it :-)

Marcia July 23, 2009 at 7:03 am

OK, help me think of an excuse to leave work so I can go home & make this one!!! I’m so distracted by chocolate-thoughts, it’s going to be a long day. :)

Louise July 23, 2009 at 7:06 am

Marcia — years ago I worked with several people who had stomach problems. For them, “Ate bad food” was a perfectly acceptable excuse to leave work or call in sick. :-)

sherri July 23, 2009 at 7:09 am

Yumm! Looks so moist!

beth July 23, 2009 at 10:19 am

This looks great. Would Grand Marnier work in place of the rum?

Jennifer July 23, 2009 at 11:42 am

What I hate most is when people give a recipe a bad review and happen to mention that they subbed “a” for “z,” “b” for “y,” and left out “x.” I don’t think one should give a bad review if any sustantive changes were made. (I will give something a good review if I’ve made changes, but I note them in the review).

Sorry, about my little rant there!

I think the recipe looks awesome and it’s a great idea to try some Julia recipes in prep for the upcoming movie, which I can’t wait to see.

Katrina July 23, 2009 at 12:00 pm

It looks yummy! Seems like we did something similar with TWD. ??

barb July 23, 2009 at 4:44 pm

My mouth is actually watering…I need to not look at your blog before dinner:)

katherine October 26, 2009 at 10:03 am

I loved this cake and so did my guests. It is a bit labor intensive, but worth it for a special occasion. I doubled the recipe to make 2 cakes… using 9 inch springform pans. I would check the cake after 20 mins. I baked mine for 25 mins and I think it would have been better had I taken them out early.

rabya December 14, 2009 at 8:48 am

omg i love ur recipes anna m not a cooking gurl but watchin this make me to cook i love ur recipes do u have easy short yummy cakes recipes

Anna December 14, 2009 at 9:19 am

Thanks for the sweet compliment, Rabya. Have you seen the recipe for Troy Chocolate Cake? It might be the type of thing you are looking for.

Robin December 15, 2009 at 4:11 pm

The link to the recipe is lost! Can someone reconnect it, or can someone repost the recipe? Thank you!

Anna December 15, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Hi Robin,

Looks like Epicurious moved the recipe. I found another copy of it and changed the link. Next time I make it, I’ll re-type it and adapt it. It’s probably best to use the exact recipe, though. The new link should work.

mary June 9, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Delicious looking…too bad I cannot ever eat the original receipe. I have celiac’s which means no wheat, rye or barley! Perhaps I will adapt it to my needs someday

Mike Williams January 31, 2011 at 7:00 pm

I made the cake by watching Julia on “The French Chef”. Although it was B&W, her assurance of it being “The best cake you’ve ever put in your mouth” meant it was a goer.
The resultant cake was, I have to say, truly amazing. My use of almond essence instead of extract may have been responsible for the slightly overpowering almond flavour, but it didn’t really matter (it could also be that a capful is in fact slightly more than 1/4 tsp these days).
I didn’t blanch the almonds before crushing them to a powder as she suggested, but will do it next time (wasn’t well enough prepared). I did decorate it with them though (blanched them during the cooking phase). Had to laugh when, after icing, I put it on top of something else in the fridge then realised an hour later that it must have been on a slight angle: The cake suffered quite badly from continental drift, and the decorative almonds ended up nearly at the edge.
Smoothest cake I ever made, and easily the best-tasting. I got the ’60s show because like Julia, I think the anti-butter thing is rubbish. She was almost 92 when she died, as was Paul and they both lived on a very high butter intake. How bad could it be for you?

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