A gooey chocolate cake sprinkled with almonds.

LightHouse Kitchen Recipe of the Month: Julia Child’s Reine de Saba Cake

To give you a little taste of what we’re cooking in our Betty Ruhland Teaching Kitchen, we’ve decided to publish monthly recipes that you can come learn to bake in one of our two-day cooking classes. 

We’re coming up on Valentine’s Day, which seems as good a time as any to treat your sweetheart (or yourself) to something delicious. Here’s Julia Child’s Reine de Saba (French for Queen of Sheba, and a luscious chocolate cake) to motivate you and your tastebuds to stop by the LightHouse Kitchen in February.

We’ll be baking this recipe at our February What’s the Scoop? Measure and Mix Class on February 14 and 16 from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

This two-day course is designed to help you learn and practice measuring with confidence as we explore techniques for measuring both liquids and dry ingredients in both large and small quantities. We will measure those tricky things like brown sugar, flour, flavorings and oils as well as common conversions and strategies for tricky ingredients.

Come prepared to try new ideas and practice the following skills:

  • Avoiding spills, working in an orderly and tidy fashion
  • Time worn techniques with common household equipment
  • Explore new gadgets and technologies
  • Mixing, blending, beating, whisking, folding, stirring and more

If you have questions about the class content please contact Sydney Ferrario, Instructor, at 415-694-7612 or sferrario@lighthouse-sf.org. Let the baking begin!


Chocolate Almond Cake

  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 T rum or brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup plus 1T sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • Large pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup finely ground almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup sifted cake flour

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour and 8-inch cake pan. Combine chopped chocolate and rum in a medium metal bowl. Set bowl over medium saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Cool melted chocolate, stirring occasionally. Using electric mixer, beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar in large bowl until fluffy and pale. Add egg yolks and beat until blended. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites and pinch of salt in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and beat until stiff but not dry.

Fold chocolate mixture, then almonds and almond extract into yolk mixture. Fold in 1/4 of whites to lighten batter. Fold in 1/3 of remaining whites. Sift 1/3 of flour over and fold in. Fold in remaining whites alternately with flour in 2 more additions each. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Push some batter 3/4 inch up sides of pan with rubber spatula (batter will slip down).

Bake cake until puffed and gently set in center and tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes. Cut around pan sides and carefully turn cake out onto rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

Chocolate Butter Icing

  • 1 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon rum or brewed coffee
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Combine chocolate and rum in small metal bowl. Set bowl over small saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Using wooden spoon, beat in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until icing is smooth. Place bowl over medium bowl filled with ice water. Continue to beat until icing is cool and thickened to spreading consistency. Place cake on platter. Scrape icing onto top center. Using small offset spatula, spread icing evenly and thinly over top and sides of cake.

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