HAVE REASON TO CELEBRATE!!! This is my 100th post!!! I can't believe I wrote a 100 posts!! Thanks to support from family, friends and you all for reading my blog and keeping me going with your encouraging comments... Looking forward to your support throughout this immensely enjoyable, enriching journey...
A special cake for this milestone - Queen Of Sheba Cake. Originally a French gateau called Gateau de la Reine Saba, this is supposedly named after the African Queen of Sheba. The reason for this I could not figure out though:-). But what I could surely figure out was this is one cake fit for a queen. Rich, dense, moist, chocolaty, made of ground almonds, butter and melted chocolate. Topped with rich chocolate ganache, you would have to be a saint to stop at eating just one slice. Famous Chef and author Julia Child, is said to have made this cake even more famous.
I would have to admit, I am not very sure if the texture of the cake turned out as it is meant to be in this particular gateau. I will also be very immodest and say that this cake was undoubtedly one of the best tasting chocolate cakes I have eaten. You can call it a Ferrero Rocher in a cake. Nutty and chocolaty and yumm... the kind of cake you will want to slowly eat and savor. If you are a chocolate lover, this will be among your most treasured recipes.
It was also one cake which had me have my heart in my mouth most of the time while I was baking it. Do read the recipe thoroughly and carefully and you will know where I feel I could have done better and you would turn out a better cake.
Recipe adapted from the book, Cakes and Cake Decorating. Here is the recipe :
2/3 Cup whole blanched almonds, lightly toasted
1/2 cup caster sugar (divided use, I used powdered)
1/4 cup Plain flour (maida)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
150 grams plain chocolate, melted (I have used chopped Morde dark chocolate)
3 eggs, separated, at room temperature
30 ml almond liqueur (optional) (I have used 1 teaspoon vanilla essence)
A pinch of cream of tartar
Yes, you read it right, there is no baking powder here. It relies solely on the whipped egg whites to make the cake rise. So make sure you do a good job of whipping and folding in the egg whites.
For the ganache
Dark chocolate chopped - 1 Cup
Cream - 3/4 Cup, I have used Amul
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
Procedure: Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, 350 degrees F. Prepare a 8 inch spring-form tin. Grease lightly with butter, line with parchment paper or butter paper, dust lightly with flour. Shake off the excess flour.
Grind the almonds with 2 tablespoons of sugar in the smallest jar of your food processor. Its better to do this in two parts as the almonds may leave out oil by the time its finely powdered. If you are lucky enough to get almond powder, may be you can try that too. Run the jar for just a couple of seconds, not more. The processed almond powder is supposed to be dry enough to be sieved, so be very careful. Mine turned out a little coarse with bits of nuts here and there. Also, I had blanched the almonds a couple of days ahead, which helped in having them really dry and good for toasting perfectly. Transfer the almond powder to a bowl, sift it over the flour, stir to mix well, keep aside.
If you have only one set of blades for your hand mixer( like me), beat the egg whites with the remaining sugar and cream of tartar and keep aside before you begin the below process. Washing the greasy blades really clean, drying it in the middle of the whole procedure can be annoying!! Remember, egg whites do not whip well even if there is a speck of grease.
In a medium sized bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Keep scraping down the butter on the sides of the bowl. Add half of the remaining sugar and beat for about 1-2 minutes on medium speed until very light and creamy. Melt the chocolate at this stage. Cool slightly. Beat in into the creamed butter mixture until well blended. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the liqueur / vanilla essence if using.
In another squeaky clean and dry bowl , beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add the remaining sugar and beat till stiff and glossy but not dry. Fold in a quarter of the egg whites mixture into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Then alternately fold in the almond mixture and the remaining egg whites in three batches. The batter was quite thick. Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the top. Tap the tin gently to release any air bubbles.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until the edges are puffed, but the center is soft and wobbly. A skewer inserted 5 cm away from the center of the cake should come out clean. Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Then remove the cake from the tin and cool completely on the wire rack.
For the ganache: Bring the cream and butter to a boil in a heavy saucepan, over low heat. Boil for a full minute, taking care not to burn the cream. Take off the heat. Gently stir in the chocolate and leave for 2-3 minutes, till the chocolate dissolves completely. Stir gently with a rubber spatula till it becomes a homogeneous mixture. Do not stir or whisk vigorously as it may cause the ganache to become grainy. Strain the ganache, cover the bowl with a cling film. Allow to cool till slightly thick. Keep aside a couple of tablespoons of cream aside if you would want to use it for decorating.
Keep wide strips of wax paper on the serving platter such that only a cm or so is under the cake and the strips cover the rest of the platter around the cake. This helps keep the platter clean when you pour the ganache over the cake. Place the cake bottom side up on the serving platter. Pour the ganache over the center of the cake, tilt the platter slightly(while lightly gripping the cake with your fingers) on all sides to spread the ganache. Make sure the cake does not fall off during the process!!!
Pour more ganache at the center if needed to cover the sides, tilt the platter again. Use a palette knife for covering any uncovered area on the sides. Was I pleased with the smooth surface!! Carefully remove the wax paper strips. See?? Less mess!! And try resisting the temptation to lick the wax paper:-)
Allow the ganache to set on the cake.In the meantime the reserved ganache would have thickened slightly and good enough for piping. Spoon it into a disposable piping bag (thanks IBCA!!), fitted with a writing nozzle( number 2 or 3). Decorate.
The recipe says you can chill the cake till needed. I did not. I have this fear of cake (other than a soaked sponge) hardening when chilled.
The verdict: One seriously delicious cake as declared by kid brother, hubby and kids!!
I think powdering the almonds really fine would have given the cake better texture. My cake was not really gooey or creamy, but moist and soft nonetheless. I wonder if adding 25 ml of milk(in place of the liqueur) would have made the cake more moist and gooey? I did not bother adding more liquid as the recipe stated it as optional, hence not really imperative to the texture of the cake. Will post an update when I make this again.
Has anybody tried this cake?? Do share your experience!!
This gateau is on its way to Madhuri's Chocolate Fest . Don't miss participating in this and get a chance to win that chocolicious book she is giving away!!
And is also being sent to Champa's Bake Off.