Queen of Sheba – the ultimate chocolate cake

Although this is my first post for Edinburgh Foody, I wanted to take a trip down memory lane and share a favourite family recipe. My parents moved to Edinburgh when I was about three years old, although I was actually born here! A few years later my Mum decided it would be good idea for my father to go to an evening class at Telford College to learn how to make desserts.

Every week he would proudly return home to show off his latest achievements and I’m sure the neighbours very quickly figured out when Tony had been to a class, as there was always a stream of friends popping in for coffee and cake. Within their own little network Dad built up a reputation for being a great cake and bread baker and in fact made all the bread we could devour on a weekly basis.

Despite all this experimenting and an enviable cookbook collection, as well as folder upon folder of recipe cuttings from magazines and newspapers over the years, there is only one chocolate cake that has continued to be the family favourite and which remains the number one request for birthdays – Reina de Seba, or rather Queen of Sheba.

Queen of Sheeba chocolate cake.

Queen of Sheba chocolate cake.

Dad turned 83 in January, so you can imagine he has made this cake quite a few times over the years, but I have not. So, having joined the team I felt compelled to have a go myself and to not just make it for the first time, but to also bake it in an Aga – yes I’m a total novice on this front.

However, the good news is it came out pretty well and even scored some praise with the seasoned baker himself. So, what is it that makes it so different and definitely more-ish? It’s certainly not its looks, this cake is rather understated on that front, but its secret weapons are 70% dark chocolate, rum and ground almonds.

It is pretty straight forward to make as you will see from the recipe below, with wonderful smells coming from the bain-marie as you melt the chocolate and rum together over hot water. Once this is combined with the creamed butter and sugar and then the ground almonds and stiff egg whites you will have them queueing up to lick the bowl clean!

Proof of the pudding is below, my efforts from earlier in the week and if you want to try this yourselves and see what all the hype is about, here’s the recipe. Hope you enjoy it as much as we have.


Queen of Sheba - the ultimate chocolate cake
Preparation time
Cooking time
Total time
Recipe type: Cake
Cuisine: Baking
Serves: 8
For the cake
  • 4ozs/115g plain chocolate (minimum 55% cocoa solids)
  • 2 tablespoon dark rum
  • 4ozs/115g unsalted butter
  • 4ozs/115g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs whisked together
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 2ozs/55g ground almonds
  • ¼ tsp. almond essence
  • 2ozs/55g plain flour
For the icing
  • 2ozs/55g plain chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 2ozs/55g unsalted butter
For the cake
  1. Heat oven to 350F/180C/160C fan.
  2. NB As a guide, if using a fan oven, which is hotter than other ovens, allow for a cooking temperature 10C less than the recipe states.
  3. Put the chocolate (I used Lindt 70%) and the rum into a small bowl and melt over hot, but not boiling water until the chocolate has melted. No need to stir continually, wait till the chocolate melts and then stir to mix thoroughly. Remove from heat and leave to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Cream butter and caster sugar together in a bowl and once soft and fluffy slowly add the whisked egg yolks into the mixture and combine.
  5. With a spatula blend melted chocolate/rum mixture into the creamed butter mixture and then add the ground almonds and ¼ tsp of almond extract until all mixed in together.
  6. In a separate bowl whisk all three egg whites together along with a pinch of salt and a tbsp. of caster sugar until stiff peaks are formed.
  7. Finally, gently fold in ¼ of the egg whites followed by ⅓rd of the sifted plain flour into the chocolate mixture. Continue to fold in alternating between egg white and flour until all incorporated.
  8. Pour into an 8” diameter x 2” high sided cake tin, which has previously been lined with well-buttered greaseproof paper spreading the mixture evenly with a spatula.
  9. Bake in middle of preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes.
  10. Cake is done when it has puffed, and 21/2 to 3 inches around the circumference are set so that a needle plunged into that area comes out clean; the centre should move slightly if the tin is shaken, and a needle comes out oily. In other words, the cake should be slightly undercooked in the centre.
  11. When cake is done, allow to cool in the tin, which has been place on a cake rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the tin, and reverse cake of the rack. Remove greaseproof paper and allow cake to cool for an hour or two; it must be thoroughly cold of it is to be iced.
For the icing
  1. Melt the chocolate with the rum over hot water as carried out for the cake. When chocolate is completely melted, remove from heat and add butter a tablespoonful at a time stirring continuously.
  2. Do not make second addition until first one has completely melted. Continue in this way until all the butter has been amalgamated into the chocolate/rum mixture. (If the mixture cools too much, you might have to place the bowl over hot water again to warm it slightly in order to mix in any remaining butter still continuing to stir all the time.)
  3. Next place the bowl in a shallow bath of cold water and continue stirring until the mixture thickens to the consistency of whipped cream. Remove bowl from cold water, then scrape out contents onto top of cake and spread evenly over the entire surface with a spatula.


Last updated by at .


About Nicki Sturzaker

Chief chatterbox and Mum on the run! Nicki is a foodie at heart and is in constant search for the best scone in Edinburgh, but in their absence she always has a secret stash of dark chocolate to get through the day.


  1. Pingback: ‘Queen of Sheba – the ultimate chocolate cake’ – UK Food and Drink News – Nosh Online

  2. Pingback: Queen of Sheba – the ultimate chocolate cake – UK Food and Drink News – Nosh Online

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe:  

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.