Queen of Sheba aka Reine de Saba Cake

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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  1. says

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

  2. says

    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.

  3. says

    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!

  4. Louise says

    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.

  5. Carrie says

    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.

  6. Marcia says

    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. 🙂

  7. Louise says

    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. 🙂

  8. says

    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.

  9. katherine says

    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.

  10. rabya says

    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

  11. Robin says

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

  12. says

    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.

  13. mary says

    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

  14. says

    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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