Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Experiments with Reine De Saba by Julia Child

Sometime, Pride comes before a fall. Atleast this is the case with me when I attempted the Queen of Cakes by Julia Child - a Reine de Saba with Chocolate Frosting. Almost a month back, I had joined "Baking Partners" and this month  or today which is Julia Childs Birthday we were supposed to bake and post the cake and I am left with no pics just a fallen attitude and 3 attempts at the cake.Let see what good comes out of it.

The moment I got the recipe, I started getting nightmares on how the cake will turn out when I try an eggless version.Finally I could take no more, I baked it a week back with my chosen replacements for yolks and whites beaten stiff and with a serious bit of advice on egg replacements from my baking Guru- Aparna of MyDiverseKitchen. Thus was born the first version.

For this First version, I followed the recipe to the 'T' with just replacements for egg yolks and egg white.The cake has very little flour in it and completely depends on the eggs for binding, leavening and rising. Thus it uses 3 eggs separated - or 3 yolks and 3 whites where the whites are beaten stiff before folding into the cake.
Now egg yolks are protein rich and I thought of replacing them with flax with little besan/chickpea flour thrown in along with the cake flour as besan helps in binding. For the egg whites ,I relied on Ener G egg replacer  powder as I have read that it can be really whipped into peaks. Now I had tried baking meringue cookies with Ener G and they were okish. I had just followed a recipe from the net and found that Ener G does hold soft peaks- atleast mine were never stiff.

And for leavening ,I decided to add the baking powder. I used 1/2 tsp of baking powder which I whipped in with the Ener G egg whites and salt and they really helped stabilize the foam or soft peaks. I also decided to add extra liquid as needed because both Ener G and Besan absorb moisture and have a tendency to make the dish look more dry than it should be.

The cake was almost perfect except for the rise. The top was a bit dry because of a minute or two of overbaking, and the cake was dense and chewy with yes just an inch of rise.The cake had stuck to the baking time of 25 minutes mentioned in the recipe as well.

I was  positively happy with the cake and decided to cut it even though I had not frosted it and what more did not even click  nice picture.I was under the impression that if the first one is this good, then the next one will be better.I was in definitely in fools paradise.But if you were with me then you would have agreed. The cake was perfect. I really felt it was "THE" Queen of cakes. Ofcourse being an eggless version, it might not be holding a chance with the original, but it was EXCELLENT.

  And me in that chocoholic high decided to experiment with it. That definitely was when the nightmares started coming true. For the second version, I replaced the cake flour with all purpose flour and besan and added 1.5 tsp of baking powder to the flour mix instead of Ener G and attempted the cake.I had heard that cake flour which has cornstarch in it makes the cake more dense.Since I am using EnerG which already has several starches, I thought avoiding cornstarch/cake flour would make it less dense. Also flax contributes chewiness though the oils released from flax might make the product moist. Also in my enthusiasm, I forgot to add the pinch of salt while whipping EnerG whites and I found that the peaks became flat within minutes. 

I had heard of salt being used while whipping egg whites and even the recipe insists on that, but never thought this being true for a replacer powder!!. Anyways, I still carried on with the cake and found that the baking time was more than the first version. I also reduced the water by 1 tbsp just like that and may be that also contributed in the flop show.

The second cake rose like anything while baking. I even thought it might spill over and was so happy that I congratulated myself on finding a perfect eggless version of Reine de Saba. But ofcourse, by the end of 20 minutes, the centre started sinking and thought the centres were not still set by 28th minute, I took it out and allowed it to rest for 10 minutes after which I turned the cake over to another plate and look what, it just crumbled into pieces.

Ofcourse the taste was excellent this time as well, but we could not call it a whole single piece cake!. And what about frosting and pictures? Thus I went for Third version.

In this version, I divided the baking powder -added 1 tsp with cake flour+ besan and 1/2 tsp with ener G and salt. Also baked at a lesser temperature. Else no change from the second version. Again, the cake rose,then fell,sunk ,took around 1 hour in the oven and then I decided it was time to inform Swati about my experiments and she being a nice person allowed me to write experiences.

 I know Julia Child might be turning in her grave seeing how I have dissected her Queen Sheba, but I feel I have gained more I have become wiser and have lots of info -some little some more about egg replacers, my hair has turned grey overnight, but puhleazze, look at the positives.

 For the past 2 days, I am eating lots of cake  pieces, made using healthy dark & semi sweet chocolate and less flour and healthy flax and almond flour. Chocolate is definitely good for you, especially if you turn it into Queen Sheba. And ofcourse, I might turn the crumbles into cake pops. Lets see..

I am simply posting the original Julia Child Recipe and a small picture of my first version. Within brackets are my modifications used for the first version.


Semi Sweet Chocolate: 4 oz/ 8 tbsp grated  melted with 2 tbsp of prepared coffee

Butter :8 tbsp /1 stick soft
Sugar: 2/3 cup or 1 cup works much better. 

Egg yolks: 3 
(3 tbsp flax + 12 tbsp water blended together to a thick paste. Here I have replaced 1 yolk with 1 tbsp of flax seed + 3 tbsp of water. The additional 3 tbsp intended to take care of dryness)

Salt: a pinch

Egg Whites: 3 
(4.5 tsp of Ener G powder + 6 tbsp of water whipped together with salt mentioned above and 1/2 tsp of baking powder)

Granulated Sugar: 1 tbsp

Almond Flour: 1/3 cup ground (I used the almond meal I had made from here)
Almond Extract: 1/2 tsp

Cake Flour: 1/2 cup
(6 tbsp All Purpose Flour + 1 tbsp Cornstarch + 1 tbsp besan)

Melt chocolate with coffee in a double boiler and keep aside.

Cream together butter and sugar for a few minutes until fluffy and then blend well with egg yolks.

In another clean bowl, beat in egg whites with salt (and baking powder if eggless) until peaks start forming. Sprinkle in 1 tbsp of sugar and beat until the peaks hold.

To the creamed mixture, stir in the melted chocolate, almond extract and almond meal. Immediately stir in little egg whites to lighten the batter. Then alternately fold in 1/3 rd egg whites and flour mix until both are used up.

Pour the batter in a buttered and floured 8' baking dish and bke in a preheated oven at 180C/350 F for about 25 minutes keeping an eye after 18 minutes. 

The sides will be set, but the set will still be wobbly. Take out and cool in the cake pan for 10 minutes, after which turn onto the rack or another plate to cool completely. The cake should be completely cooled before frosting.

I never got to frosting and hence avoiding it in this already lengthy post. 

Will there be a fourth? , A BIG YES, I will be making it again and again and mostly will be following version 1. I am ok now with the cake not rising, atleast it did not crumble.

Kudos to you if you reached the end of this post by reading carefully. 
Kudos to others who reached the end without reading - you are definitely faster than Usain Bolt.


Usha said...

Well, even with the eggs I had to bake it twice to get it right. Even in the second attempt, my cake was very gooey in the middle and my cake sunk in the middle soon after I removed it from the oven. I let it sit for 2 hours before turning it over to a plate. I managed to ice it and it center part was set after I refrigerated it.

One thing is for sure, it is a delicious cake!

Priya Suresh said...

Fantastic, how beautifully you done without eggs, amazing job Sweatha.

Swathi said...


I think you should stick to first version. You have lot of knowledge on egg replacers. I appreciate your effort. I saying from heart that cake looks delicious.

Swathi said...

Can you link your experience of this cake in my blog.

Reshmi Mahesh said...

Really appreciate you for all the effort you have put in to experimenting the cake...Loved the way you explained it too...Great job...If you are a chocolate lover you wont get bored of eating it...;)..Hey loved the last two lines...:D

Sowmya Karthy said...

Cake looks very tempting..

Sanoli Ghosh said...

A lovely write up. Your cake looks perfect without icing. I agreed with you, that finding the exact substitute for eggless version is tough. I appreciate you energy and perfection dear.

Inviting you to visit my space at your leisure,

Sanoli Ghosh said...

You baked this cake very perfectly. Happy to know you through baking group. Eggless version of this Reine de Saba is not at all easy thing. You did a wonderful job. Happy baking!


Achu said...

Beautiful!!!!Wow we are members of baking partners :) Do visit my blog :) Awaiting to hear your comments on my blog...Please follow me or like my FB page TangyMinds.Already subscribed to u.:)

PinayinTexas said...

Thanks for sharing your great adventure with this cake! I'm sure that you had such a fun learning experience!

Myvegfare said...

sweatha, you have done an eggless version too it looks so beautiful, Aparna is a wonderful person to help out, I have Ener G Egg replacer but never used them, I love the way you have used it with the baking using Ener G I too made an eggless one, would love your comment and thoughts on it as well, I too wanted to replace 3 eggs it turned out really well, a bit wobbly in the center but came out very well. I went through the whole post I am Book marking this page, if I am going to use Ener G I would use your tips thanks for sharing

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