Thursday, April 9, 2009

132. Passover Sponge Cake with Apples (p. 711)

One of the things that I've enjoyed most about The Project is learning more about various cultures as I organize my cooking around the different holidays throughout the calendar. I've made Coquilles St. Jaques on Bastille Day and Crepes on Candlemas. The Book's excellent collection of Jewish dishes are a great example of how cooking can be a cultural education. I've made Honey Cake on Rosh Hashanah and Date Walnut Rugelach for Hanukka. I made this recipe, along with the Ashkenazic Haroseth, for Passover.

One of the most recognizable Passover traditions is the prohibition against consuming, or even possessing, chametz (fermented items leavened breads and cakes and most alcoholic beverages). That means no yeast breads, and depending upon the branch of Judiasm, no chemical leavners like baking soda and baking powder, either. This recipe relies on beaten egg whites to give it lift.

To make this cake, I first sifted together some matzo cake meal and some potato starch and set it aside. Next, I separated six eggs and beat the yolks with some sugar, lemon zest and juice and then I stirred in the cake meal mixture. After that, I cleaned the beaters and beat the egg whites (if you don't clean the beaters before beating the whites, any yolk left on the beaters will prevent the whites from beating properly). I added a little bit of sugar and kept beating until I got "stiff, glossy peaks." Then I folded the fluffy egg whites into the yolk-cake meal mixture.

To assemble the cake, I spread about a third of the batter into a springform pan. Then I put down a layer of thinly-sliced Golden Delicious apples and sprinkeld them with a generous amount of cinnamon and sugar. I added another layer of batter, another layer of apples, sugar and cinnamon, and a final layer of batter. I cooked it for about an hour and cooled and unmolded it.

The cake tasted pretty good. It was sweet and tender, if just a little bit chewey. It looked very nice when sliced with the pretty layers of apple slices and cinnamon. The only clue that this was a "Passover" cake was a very slight hint of that distinct matzo flavor.

I took this cake to work and left it in the kitchen in the morning. It went over pretty well. Just after lunch, there was only a small slice left. I was very disappointed, however, that the office cleaning lady threw away the bottom of my springform pan. Can you believe that!?! In her defense, she might have mistaken it for a disposable pie plate. I'm sure it wasn't malicious. But, the result is that I need a new nine-inch springform pan.

Date Cooked: April 5, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Rating: B


Melissa Bach Palladino said...

Your co-workers must love you. But the pan--ARGH!!

I'm actually thinking of making this one for Easter--can't decide between it or the Sauterne-soaked cake with candied kumquats...

Gila said...

What branch of Judaism bans chemical leaveners on Passover? I'm Orthodox, and we use 'em, as long as there aren't any non-kosher-for-Passover ingredients in them. (K-for-P baking soda is easy to find, but I'm not sure about baking powder.)

Adam said...

Gila, the comment in the post about some branches of Judaism not using chemical leaveners during Passover comes from an article on Passover from Wikipedia, which states that "Karaite Jews and many non-Ashkenazic Jewish traditions do not observe a distinction between chemical leavening and leavening by fermentation."