Fran’s Reine Torte

The Reine, one of the building blocks of Fran’s first pastry ship, has the soft crumb and pure flavor that we adore in a chocolate cake. It is a smart choice for the home baker. Similar in structure to a traditional American cake, it has a creamed-butter-and-sugar base, just enough flour to make it sensible, and eggs only for height. The resulting cake is lighter in texture (and even in color) than the more intense tortes, making it eminently adaptable.
The Reine is lovely without even the butter glaze. You can finish it simply by dusting the top with cocoa, or serving with a scoop of ice cream, a puddle of crème anglaise, a handful of fresh berries, or loosely whipped Caramel Whipped Cream. You can even tuck the pain cake into a picnic basket. After nearly 40 years, the Reine still reigns!

Serves 12 to 16


  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 stick plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup cake flour, sifted then measured
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) almond flour
  • 1 recipe Chocolate Butter Glaze


  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F.
  2. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan (preferably flared) and line with a parchment circle.
  3. In a double boiler melt the chocolate over low heat. Remove when nearly melted and continue stirring until smooth. Set aside and cool to 90 to 95°F. Return it to the double boiler briefly if it begins to thicken.
  4. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, at medium-high speed cream the butter with 1/3 cup sugar. The mixture should be pale yellow in color and fluffy with no grains of sugar remaining. With the machine running, add the yolks one at a time, scraping the bowl several times between additions, 5 to 6 minutes.
  5. In another bowl, with a fork mix the almond flour and sifted flour. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the butter-yolk mixture. Fold in the melted chocolate. The mixture should be smooth and glossy.
  6. In another mixer bowl, with a clean whisk attachment begin whipping the egg whites on medium-high speed, increasing the speed and beating until quite frothy. Slowly add the remaining sugar and continue whipping until the peaks are stiff but not dry. The peaks should be shiny, and the mixture should look glossy with a creamy consistency.
  7. Lighten the chocolate mixture by quickly folding in a third of the whites, then gently fold in the remaining whites in 2 parts, trying not to overmix and lose the volume. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 60 minutes, until the top appears lighter in color. A cake tester inserted in the center will have a few moist crumbs. Let the cake cool in the pan at room temperature for approximately 15 minutes.
  9. To remove from the pan, run a thin-bladed knife along the edges and invert onto a carboard cake circle or metal tart pan bottom. Wrap in plastic and chill completely. (The torte can be frozen up to a week prior to assembly.)

To Finish the Torte

    1. Have ready the Chocolate Butter Glaze.
    2. Bring the torte to room temperature, unwrap it, and remove the parchment paper. Trim any uneven edges.
    3. Place the torte (leaving it on the cardboard cake circle or tart bottom) on a cooling or pouring rack positioned over a rimmed baking sheet.
    4. Beginning 1½ inches from the edge of the torte, slowly and evenly pour the glaze all around the torte layer, making sure that the sides are sufficiently covered. Then pour the remaining glaze onto the center of the torte.
    5. Working quickly, with a metal offset spatula spread the glaze evenly over the top, letting the excess run down the sides.
    6. Let set at room temperature until the glaze is slightly firm, about 5 minutes. Once set, slide an offset spatula under the cardboard circle, rotating the spatula to release any spots where the glaze has stuck to the rack. Carefully lift the torte and, supporting the cake’s bottom with your free hand, slide it onto its serving plate.
    7. Can be stored at room temperature up to 3 days, with cut edges protected.

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