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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Passover Sponge Cake

In preparation for the eve of Pesach, the Jewish Passover holiday, Baby is invariably found making Sponge Cake! This tradition has been passed down to him by his mother and her mother before that. He even uses the same tube pan that they used (this device is actually made up of two pieces--the outer wall and the insert which is the center and base).

Because there are no leavening agents used, the process is a little work-heavy, as it involves separating a dozen eggs, beating the yolks and whites separately and carefully folding the two together, but the results are lighter than air.

Baby's suggestions and embellishments (and may I say improvements?) are in italics below.

Passover Sponge Cake
Adapted from
12 eggs
3/4 c. potato starch
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. red wine (Baby found a slightly sweet El Reposo Argentinian Malbec)
3/4 c. cake meal
2 c. sugar
1/4 c. juice - from 1 each orange and lemon (incorporate the zest as well as reserve leftover juice for icing)
1/4 c. slivered almonds, plus more for decoration
Almond extract
10 slices candied lemon*
Citrus icing**

Beat yolks about 5 minutes. Add sugar gradually; add juice and wine, zest, almonds and a capful of almond extract.
Add cake meal and potato starch which have been mixed together. Set aside.
Beat whites with salt until it stands in peaks. Fold into the yolk mixture and bake in a 10 inch tube pan lined with wax paper. 350 degrees for 1 hour. Test - if toothpick comes out dry. May require additional 10-15 minutes. Turn upside down (inverting over a long, thin-necked bottle and let cool completely--this prevents cake from falling. Remove from bottle, gently loosen cake to remove from pan by using a spatula or thin knife to run around the pan). When cake has cooled, artfully arrange lemon slices and drizzle icing over top, quickly decorating with almond slivers before the icing sets.

*Candied lemon: cut 10 thin slices of lemon on a mandoline. Blanche slices in simmering water for 60 seconds. Immediately place in an ice bath. Boil 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water, reduce heat and simmer lemon slices in one layer for one hour. Let cool on parchment paper.

**Citrus icing: mix 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar with 1 Tb. reserved fruit juice and a few drops almond extract.

Happy Pesach, everybody!

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