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Julia Child’s Reine de Saba Cake

Rich and utterly delicious, this classic cake by Julia Child will be a chocolate lover's dream!

Baked by Alie Romano

Professional Baker and Recipe Developer

* Make sure to read the entire blog post. Every step matters, and I’ll provide helpful tips along the way!

Julia Child's Reine de Saba Cake

When it comes to the Queen of the kitchen, there is no doubt that Julia Child is that woman!  She made her mark cooking and baking French cuisine and taught so many others to be bold, playful; to roll up their sleeves and to try new things. I can’t think of a better (celebrity) female role model than her! In celebration of what would have been Julia’s 107 birthday today, August 15th, I’m making her chocolate almond cake  (Reine de Saba Cake) that was said to be one of the first French cakes that she ever ate. The Reine de Saba cake is dark and rich, sophisticated and it’s no wonder Julia fell in love with the French cuisine if this was indeed her first taste.

The cake itself is quite simple to make but there are simple keys to making it how the French do, or Julia herself. Separating the eggs and whipping your whites to stiff peaks – gently folding the whites into the batter to incorporate the lightness is just a simple technique that makes a big difference. Your quality of ingredients will be noticed, so use the best of the best when it comes to your chocolate, butter and rum!

Julia Child's Reine de Saba Cake
Julia Child’s Reine de Saba Cake

I love how fearless she was and frankly a little silly! Her food, her vision and her words have been treasured throughout time and when I read her quotes I nod, I smile and laugh! Thank you Julia for inspiring confidence in women, for being you! Happy Birthday!

My Favourite Quotes from Julia Child:

  • If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.
  • A party without cake is just a meeting.
  • I think careful cooking is love, don’t you? The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who’s close to you is about as nice a valentine as you can give.
  • The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.
  • The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.
  • The secret of a happy marriage is finding the right person. You know they’re right if you love to be with them all the time.
  • You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.
  • Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.
  • In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport.
  • I enjoy cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.
  • Always remember: If you’re alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. Who’s going to know?

Bon Fete Julia!

Julia Child's Reine de Saba Cake
Julia Child’s Reine de Saba Cake


  • Bittersweet chocolate
  • Unsalted butter
  • Dark rum (or brewed coffee)
  • Salt
  • Granulated sugar
  • Almond extract
  • Almond meal or almond flour
  • Eggs
  • Cake flour
  • Sliced almonds, optional
Reine de Saba Cake

Julia Child’s Reine de Saba Cake

Rich and utterly delicious, this classic cake by Julia Child will be a chocolate lover’s dream!

  • Author: Julia Child
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 1 Cake 1x
  • Category: Cake
  • Cuisine: French


Units Scale

For cake

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons dark rum (or brewed coffee)
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus a pinch salt, separated
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup almond meal or almond flour
  • 3 eggs, separate the yolks from the whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup cake flour, sifted
  • Optional: 1/4 cup sliced almonds for garnish

For Frosting

  • 2 Tablespoons bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons dark rum (or brewed coffee)
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 8″ cake pan (or butter and line the pan with parchment paper).
  2. Melt the chocolate and the rum together in a heat-safe bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and 2/3 cup of the sugar until pale yellow and fluffy, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and combine. Add the egg yolks one at a time and beat until well blended. Add almond extract.
  4. In another large bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Sprinkle one tablespoon sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.
  5. With a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate into the butter and sugar mixture, stir in the almond meal.
  6. Stir in one quarter of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter. Delicately fold in a third of the remaining whites and when partially blended, sift one third of the flour and continue folding. Repeat this process until you’ve added all the flour and folded in all of the whites.
  7. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges of the pan are set and the center is still moist.
  8. Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Then flip the cake out onto a cake dish. Let cool completely before frosting.
  9. Make the frosting. Melt the chocolate and the rum together in a heat-safe bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Remove from heat and beat in the butter with a whisk, one tablespoon at a time. If your icing is too runny set the bowl of chocolate into an ice bath and beat until the mixture has cooled to a spreading consistency.
  10. Frost the cake. Decorate with sliced almonds if you wish.


  • Serving Size: 1 serving of 12
  • Calories: 296
  • Sugar: 17.5g
  • Sodium: 171mg
  • Fat: 20.4g
  • Saturated Fat: 11.5g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 23.2g
  • Fiber: 1.1g
  • Protein: 4g
  • Cholesterol: 79mg

Keywords: Julia Child, Reine de Saba Cake, Chocolate Cake, Dessert, Almond Cake

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I can’t wait to see what you’ve made! xo alie


What is a Reine de Saba cake?

A Reine de Saba cake is a French, rich, sophisticated, chocolate cake made with ground almonds, rum, meringue and of course chocolate. It’s topped with a chocolate ganache and can be decorated with almond slices. It’s said to be one of the first French cakes that Julia Child ever ate and fell in love with!

Is almond meal and almond flour the same thing?

Almond meal and almond flour are both made with almonds. The difference between the two is almond meal is made by grinding raw almonds with their skins on whereas almond flour is made by grinding blanched almonds without their skins. This results in a finer texture and lighter in colour than almond meal.

Can I subsitute almond flour for almond meal?

Depending on the recipe almond flour can be substituted for almond meal especially if the recipe only requires a little of the ingredient. The difference between the two is the weight, colour and texture. Almond meal is coarser, darker, and heavier than almond flour. This could have an impact on recipes looking for a denser weight as almond flour is light and fluffy.

What is almond meal?

Almond meal is ground raw almonds that have their skins on. It’s a little coarse in texture and can have extra weight, similar to the texture and weight of corn meal.

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4 years ago
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This looks good!

1 year ago
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I bake a lot of fabulous cakes. But now, this is my absolute, all-time favorite and most requested by friends and family. It is simple to make yet rich and complex in flavor. You can make it with rum or coffee (we were surprised that we preferred coffee) and if you have it, a touch of espresso powder will take it to a new level. If you’re making it for the first time, it may seem there isn’t enough frosting – but it is the exact right amount. So simple to decorate with slivered almonds – oh! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

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I'm a professional baker, recipe developer & photographer behind Baking For Friends. I specialize in classic & comforting baking. I hope you enjoy the recipes & find inspiration of your own to bring your family & friends together over home-cooked food!

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