Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I have a slight, okay major, obsession with 18th Century France and the reign of Marie Antoinette. I simply could not avoid the temptation to pay homage to the storied queen with an elaborate cake made today for her birthday. Marie Antoinette married Louis XVI in April 1770 and became Queen in May 1774 after the death of Louis XV. Be it from revolutionary propaganda or simply the truth, the perception of her in the public was one of decadence and promiscuity. Of course most people know one thing and one thing only about Marie Antoinette today “Let them eat cake!”.

The original quote is “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” and was written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. There is absolutely no evidence that these words were ever spoken by the woman to whom they are credited. In the fever of the French Revolution Louis XVI was deposed and executed in January 1793 then Marie Antoinette the same year in October.

Truth be told, the recipe for this cake has absolutely no historical significance. Cakes of the time were more similar to bread than the way we think of cakes today. The decoration of the cake is a nod to the French tricolor. Swirled with raspberry jam, the cake offers an unexpected surprise inside. Egg whites are whipped before adding to the batter to give the cake a light, voluminous texture and for a perfect rise. After all, the last Queen of France certainly would not have a small cake on her birthday!

Happy birthday Marie Antoinette!

18 tablespoons (2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
4 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising) plus more for pans
1 1/2 cups whole milk
9 large egg whites, lightly beaten
3 cups raspberry jam
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 pint raspberries (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 350, grease and flour two round cake pans.

1. In a medium bowl, stir together, milk, egg whites, and extracts. Into a second medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

2.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds. With machine running, gradually add the sugar. Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.

3.Add one-third of the flour mixture and one-third of the milk mixture, and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Add remaining flour and milk mixtures in 2 separate batches beating between additions to fully incorporate. Scrape down sides of bowl, and stir by hand to finish.

4. Pour ½ of the batter into each cake pan.

5. Add three tablespoons of raspberry jam to each cake

6. cover the first layer of batter and the raspberry jam with the remaining ½ batter.

7. swirl the batter with a butter knife.

8. Bake 25-35 minutes until cake tester comes out clean.

9. Frost with basic frosting, add raspberry jam to the middle, if desired

10. Garnish with raspberries, and enjoy!

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