Friday, June 1, 2012

50 Women Game Changers in Food - # 50 Julie Powell - Queen of Sheba Cake

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...and so it ends. Today we feature the work of Julie Powell who holds the final position on the Gourmet Live list of 50 Women Game Changers in Food. Strangely enough, the journey of the past year ends with a young woman who owes her career to the first woman who appeared on the list. We have come full circle, and due to the circumstances that connect these two women, will end this series where it started, with the recipes of Julia Child. Julie Powell, an aspiring writer caught in the limbo of a dead end job, challenged herself to complete the 524 recipes that encompassed Julia Child's first book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in 365 days. She created a blog, The Julie/Julia Project, to record her progress and gained an audience as she wrote and worked her way through the challenge. The blog went on to become a book, 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, and her experiences in writing it became half of the plot for the movie Julie and Julia. The world is full of people who talk, but do not do. Julie Powell had a great idea, and while she is not Harper Lee or Julia Child, she carried her idea to fruition and has been rewarded for it. She made her dream come true. Her initial publishing success has been followed by a second book, Cleaving: a Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession. It's a good read that will give you some insight into Julie Powell. She is currently working on a novel. Next week a few of us will share some final thoughts about the list of the nifty fifty. I hope you'll join us for one last look at those who were honored and those who were overlooked.

I decided to narrow the choice of recipes from which I'd choose today's feature by limiting myself to those that were prepared in the movie Julie and Julia. I settled on Julia's Reine de Saba, or Queen of Sheba Cake because it is a bit festive and I knew it was delicious. This chocolate and almond cake was very popular when it was first discovered by Julia's army of followers. While I have not made it in recent years, there was a time when it was a regular feature on my table. The recipe has appeared in several of Julia's books, and interestingly enough, it isn't always prepared in the same way. She appears to have done some experimentation with ways of folding egg whites and flour into the cake batter. Fortunately, they all work and produce a delicious cake that I hope you will try. Here's the recipe.

Reine de Saba - Queen of Sheba Cake with Chocolate Glaze...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Julia Child and Julie Powell

4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons dark rum or strong coffee
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup blanched almonds pulverized with 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup plain bleached cake flour, in a sifter set on wax paper

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Set rack in the lower middle level. Butter and flour an 8 x 1 x 1-1/2-inch round cake pan.
2) In a double boiler or bowl set over a pan of water, combine chocolate and rum or coffee. Bring water to a simmer, cover, and let chocolate melt, stirring until smooth. Turn off heat.
3) In a 3-quart mixing bowl, use a hand-held electric mixer to cream the butter until soft and fluffy, then add the 1/2 cup sugar. Beat 1 minute, then beat in the yolks, one at a time.
4) In another mixing bowl, beat whites until foaming, beat in cream of tartar and salt, and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue beating until stiff, shining peaks form.
5) Blend warm melted chocolate into the yolk mixture, then blend in almonds and almond extract. Stir a quarter of the egg whites into chocolate to lighten it.  Scoop remainder whites over chocolate and, alternating with sprinkles of the flour, rapidly and delicately fold in whites and flour.
6) Immediately turn batter into the prepared pan, tilting it in all directions to run it up to the rim, and set it in the oven.
7) Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cake has puffed to top of pan and a toothpick plunged into it 2 and 3 inches from the edges comes out clean. (Center of cake should move slightly when pan is gently shaken.
8) Remove pan to a rack and let it cool for 15 minutes, then unmold onto rack. Let it cool completely, at least 2 hours, before storing or icing. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

Chocolate Glaze for Cake:

Combine 2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate and 2 tablespoons rum or coffee in a double boiler (or in a heatproof bowl sitting on top of a saucepan of barely simmering water) and melt slowly, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and beat in 6 tablespoons butter, one tablespoon at a time. Beat over a bowl of ice water to cool to a spreading consistency, and spread over the cooled cake. Sprinkle with sliced almonds, if desired. Serve immediately or chill until needed. Allow to sit out and come to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before serving.

The following bloggers are also featuring recipes associated with Julie Powell. I hope you'll pay them all a visit. They are all great cooks who have wonderful blogs.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan - The Spice Garden
Heather - girlichef, Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney, Amrita - Beetles Kitchen Escapades
Mary - One Perfect Bite, Sue - The View from Great Island, Barbara - Movable Feasts
Linda A - There and Back Again, Nancy - Picadillo, Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen, Annie - Most Lovely Things, Jeanette - Healthy Living
Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce - More Time at the Table
Kathy - Bakeaway with Me, Martha - Simple Nourished Living, Jill - Saucy Cooks
Sarah - Everything in the Kitchen Sink


Lenia said...

It looks heavenly!Have a lovely day,dear Mary!

Mother said...

la tua torta é meravigliosa.
Potrei provare a glassarla con il cioccolato bianco?
Ne ho molto a disposizione, ma non so se la torta perde qualcosa nel gusto:
Grazie, Mother.

Vicki Bensinger said...

I've never made Queen of Sheba cake and have had her books forever. Reviewing the recipe it sounds like something I'd love. Nice and rich chocolaty and delicious.

When you made it did you use coffee or rum?

Great bio you gave by the way. I will be sure to check out her other book.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Thank you Mary for taking us on this culinary joinery over the last year, for keeping us organized and for your encouragement, We learned so much over the past year in so many ways.

Rita said...

Congratulations! You really thought us so much with this venture. I wish I could have participated. Julie Julia was the subject of my first post in 2009. This cake looks like you would get the perfect bite for all the chocolate addicts.

Big Dude said...

I've enjoyed learning about these women and their impact


Thanks for your hard work in this fantastic series, Mary.

Julie Powell is very influential through her blog, book and movie. So many of my friends, including my daughters, got renewed interest in cooking. So fun.

Cindy@NorthofWiarton said...

Ha ! I did not know there was a "Queen of Sheba" cake, Mary. When my Mother lived with us, I used to tease her by calling her & her little toy poodle, Queen of Sheba I & II. Love all your posts ... enjoy the day !

"Just Me"

Barbara said...

First of all, thanks for being such a great leader, Mary. This was a marvelous adventure in food.
Your Queen of Sheba cake looks fabulous and was a good choice to end the series. Looking forward to your wrap-up next week.

Unknown said...

I think it's great to see the last woman on the list who was inspired by the first woman on the list.. very inspiring in itself! And the cake... OH the cake looks soooo incredibly good!

Inspired by eRecipeCards said...

mary from day One i loved the idea of this series and loved following it. Learned so much. Julie is a surprise pick to be on the list. Especially after reading "Cleaving"... A lesson in the dangers of getting what we want. I've gone through my waves of loving her and loathing her. Now I've mellowed to the middle. She is a food blip to me, but her extended 15 minutes did indeed introduce me to food blogs. SO I guess... An appropriate pick.


Alyce said...

Beautiful cake. I owe 4 people a dinner I donated to a silent auction at church; one needs gluten-free. I'm doing the whole meal that way--why not? Do you think this cake would work with gluten-free flour, as it's such a small amount anyway?

My deepest thanks for your wonderful work on this project and for allowing me and my little blog to be included! I learned so much and had such fun. I might later do my wrap-up post re Marion Cunningham, but am traveling soon and unable to post for a while.

Blessings to YOU, Mary, as you cook a new dish,

Gerlinde in Washington said...

I have have several books by Julia Child as well, and have never tried making this cake. I bet it would be amazing with rum in both the cake as well as the glaze!

Yours looks mouth watering!

Claudia said...

My daughter made this for one of my birthdays (who counts anymore?) And it is indeed delicious and festive! Thanks for the ride, Mary. My eyes have been opened and my tastebuds delighted with this trip outside of myself and the group has been incredibly supportive. I'm almost afraid to try another group - when this first experience has been so sweet.

Jill~a SaucyCook said...

Mary, it has been such a delight following you on this wonderful adventure in blogging. I have learned so much, been exposed to fabulous women and chefs I would have never been exposed to and just generally broadened my horizons. I wish I had joined earlier on, but I now feel challenged to start back at number one and "catch up". Thank you for being such an inspirational leader and providing me with such a lovely recipe idea for #1 Julia Child! xxx000xxxx~Jill

Gloria Baker said...

I love Queen of Saba and this look perfect and delicious:)

Merisi in Vienna said...

Oh Mary, my heart jumped a bit when I saw this post come up: Queen of Sheba reigns supremely in our home, whenever I make a chocolate cake.

My recipe comes from an old PARADE magazine, distributed on Sundays with the Washington Post. I even decorate the cake with the broken up chocolate tiles Julia suggested in that Parade article.

Blond Duck said...

I didn't like her second book b/c she had an affair.

Ginny Hartzler said...

An interesting name for this cake, it looks rich and good!

Susan Lindquist said...

It has been a really fantastic project, Mary! Thank you for being such an inspiration! I have learned so much over the past year ... it will be hard not to be thinking about what dish to make for Friday (or Saturday's - wink wink!) post and where I can dig up some information on the proposed game changer!

Your cake recipe is an apt closer for this journey!

Jeanette said...

Mary, thank you for taking all of us on this journey the past 50 weeks. I learned about so many different women who have had an impact on the food world, from professional chefs to home cooks like Julie. It has been quite an adventure and I will miss our weekly event. Blessings, Jeanette

Kathy said...

Mary, It has truly been a pleasure blogging along with you and the rest of the ladies! Thanks so much for the journey! I will miss our weekly e-mails and postings!
Love your Queen of Sheba Cake! Sounds so decadent and delicious! I’ve never made one before, but must give it a try!

Bubbe Bites said...

Thank you Mary for allowing me to accompany you on this wonderful ride. It has truly been delightful. I have made this Queen of Sheba cake a few times. It is delicious! What a wonderful recipe you picked for our last time around.

Heather S-G said...

Oh, this definitely sounds like a cake worthy of revisiting often - YUM!

Mireya @MyHealthyEatingHabits said...

Oh Mary, this does sound delicious and I'll save it for the rainy day she when I decide to bake a cake. I have had such a great time taking part in you blog group. Thank you for your inspired idea and for your open invitation.

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