Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Queen of Sheba Cake - My 100th Post!!!

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.


Priya Suresh said...

Woww Wat a super irresistible cake, absolutely delicious..Congrats for ur 100th post Suma..

Pavithra Srihari said...

WOW .. this one looks absolutely delicious .. I wish I stayed somewhere closer to you atleast to get a slice ... seriously I just couldnt resist ...

harini-jaya said...

congrats on ur 100th post! this cake is surely tempting

FewMinute Wonders said...

Good job on the very delicious looking cake. 100th post comes very past isn't it.Congrats.

priya seshadri said...

irresistible!! :)bande naan eega nim manige ;)

Unknown said...


Congrats on your 100th post!!Cake looks awesome...:)


Nithya said...

Congrats on your 100th post :) its so good to see you celebrate your milestone and I am sure you are going to celebrate more and more such occasions :)

I am droooooooling so much right now. I am such a chocoholic that this cake is making me go crazy at the first look at it. yummmmmmmm.. Almonds would make it damn rich too. And the fact that Julia Child made it famous makes me go mad for it since I am a die hard fan of her after the movie :)

I am surely going to try this cake asap and let you know too. Bookmarked :)

ann low said...

Congrats on your 100th post! Love your chocolate cake, so perfect and how I wish I can have some ;D

Sayantani Mahapatra Mudi said...

Congrats on your 100th post suma. am almost bookmarking all your recipes. this one is also bookmarked and love the ganache. very neat work with the covering...delicious.

Spice said...

Hi Suma, Congrats on your 100th post...cake looks absolutely delicious......& i'm so with U on chilling the cakes...I do fear same it's gonna get harder....

Panchpakwan said...

Hi Suma, Congarts on you milestone..Keep on rocking..hope to see many more yummy recipes from you dear..

Chocolate cake looks fantastic..loved the ganache on it..

Anonymous said...

Wow, pretty cool topic. How can I get your RSS?

Kate Pingtown
bug sweeper

Divya Kudua said...

Congrats on your fine achievement Suma..and whoaaa..what a cake to celebrate!!I can imagine the intense taste of chocolate and almonds by just looking at the cake.Love the deep dark colour.Kudos to you!!

Sanjeeta kk said...

Congrats and best wishes for more of such wonderful posts to come. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to you on the milestone Suma! Im definitely looking forward to many many more hundred cakes and bakes :)
And coming to the cake you have here, Im rendered speechless...what can I say? It sounds like the bestestestest Chocolate Nirvana anyone can ever have! Whoopah! Thanks for sending this over to CCN's Anniversary party! Im honoured to have a cake befitting a Queen coming in for the event!

PS: Maybe I should announce a new rule for the Chocolate Fest--->people from Blore sending in their entries should also send a portion of their creation to me for taste-testing!! Muhuhahahhaahaha...that way, I can get to taste all your wonderful bakes too ;) I'm very good at masterminding such devious ways of getting good food to my table see ;)

PPS: Best luck for the next hundred posts! Big Huggggg :)

Hari Chandana P said...

OMG !!!.. Looks simply superb.. keep rocking dear !!

Champa said...

Congratulations on the 100 posts. Thanks for the entry. I loved the look of the ganache. It is so clear and flawless.

Padmajha said...

Congrats Suma on the milestone!!Wishing u many more to come :).Am speechless after seeing those delicious clicks.Im dying to taste them :) yummy yum

Shubha said...

congtulations suma!!!
ur cake looks absoltely fantastic!!! am drooling all over my laptop, i misssed it:((

Rookie Qookie said...

Congrats dear...Cake looks perfecctttt :)


Priya dharshini said...

Congrats on reaching 100...ur cakes r fabulous

Unknown said...

Waaaahhh....boooo hoooo hooo :'(...not baked this cake while I was out of town...(pounding my feet on the ground and flinging my arms sure you wouldn't have seen your daughter do this!!!)
As a punishment you HAVE to bake this cake again. Until then I'll be day dreaming about this cake! Let me know if you have any leftovers in the fridge...I will come now. :(
Congratulations on your 100th post gal :) May you reach many more milestones like these! :)

Sum said...

Congrats for ur 100th post! Very tempting!!
BTW, check out my space for one one of your recipes adapted :) Thanks again!

sweet artichoke said...

Congratulations on your 100th post and looking forward to the many 100 more :-)
The Reine de Saba looks amazingly delicious! I absolutely love this cake. It is said that the Queen of Sheba was extremely beautiful and a magician, so maybe the cake is so delicious that it puts a magic spell on the ones eating it?

Aparna S Mallya said...

Congratulations Suma!! And what a treat to celebrate!!

chef and her kitchen said...

Congrats on ur 100th post dear and the cake looks irresistable.....yummy!!1

Nachiketa said...

What an absolute delight.... congrats :)
Am so proud of you....

The Variable, Crazy Over Desserts - Nachiketa
Catch me on facebook @ Crazy Over Desserts

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for being a part of the Chocolate Fest, as part of Cook-curry Nook's 1st Anniversary celebrations! Hope you had a rollicking time preparing all those chocolate goodies and devouring them. The winner of the giveaway will be announced shortly, along with the round-up. Keep those fingers crossed! May lady luck be with you :)


Divya Shankar said...

I got to this one from your recentmost ganache recipe .. can you tell me why cream of tartar is so important here? And it is only 1/4 cup of maida used, had to wonder if this gave all that mass seen in this lovely big cake?

Suma Rowjee said...

@ Divya - Cream of tartar helps egg whites whip better, you could use lemon juice in its place too. Since the egg white is the only leavener here (no baking power or soda here) its really important to whip the whites well. If am not wrong,this is what is called as a Torte which typically has less flour or no flour. And the cake is not a tall one :)

Purnima said...

Suma, came here thru DivyaKudua's Easycooking. Am so thrilled to see n read this post!U hv amazing recipes here n ur unique style of posting makes it even more interesting! Keep blogging~while I explore ur lovely blog.
Best Rgds :)