Sunday, February 10, 2013

Passover Nut Torte

The online definition websites say that a torte is a "multi-layered rich cake made with little flour and a lot of eggs and butter." I think the cook who contributed this recipe liked the word torte. Maybe he/she thought it had more class than mere "cake." Class or not, this recipe appears to me to be more of a cake, and less of a torte. No layers, for one thing.
Passover recipes seem to use egg whites as the leavening agent, since yeast and presumably baking powder is forbidden during Passover. This cake is sort of like angel food cake. I made it on Sunday for my Lenten religious study class. I had a problem with the matzoh cake meal. In spite of the fact that the kosher product section at my local Safeway seems to have grown since last week, there was no matzoh cake meal. Nor was there any at Rodman's, my go-to purveyor of hard to find stuff. Since I was serving my cake to Episcopalians outside of Passover, I punted and used actual flour as a substitute.
Matzoh cake meal is hard to find. There were several pleas on Jewish cooking websites about where to buy the stuff, and vague directions about where it could be found.  ("Try Cherry Hill, N.J.,") said one response. I tried nine or ten Jewish websites until I finally ran it to earth at Streit's, of Brooklyn, N.Y., will sell cake meal on line for $4.99 a box plus shipping and handling. Since you have a month before Passover, I would hustle up and order some if I were Jewish and planned to observe Passover strictly. One website I glanced at advised readers to buy in bulk, rather than running out and having to go back to the store in the middle of the holiday. Sounds like good advice to me.
Anyhow, this cake was very well received. The class members went back a couple of times for additional pieces. If you own an electric mixer, it is not difficult. A couple of caveats. If you have never separated eggs before, get an extra dozen and practice. They're only eggs, for gosh sakes.

Here is a YouTube video on how to separate eggs. 
The recipe says to beat the sugar into the egg yolks gradually and keep beating until the yolks become lighter in color. What's gradually? How long do I beat? Relax. The BF is on the case. Adding the sugar gradually means a couple of tablespoons at a time. You do not have to measure. I added and beat six times before the measuring cup of sugar was empty. I beat for about five minutes and, yes, the yolks were lighter.
Two other things, first, make sure you buy your walnuts at someplace that sells a lot of them so they are not stale. I bought a small bag of chopped walnuts at Safeway, and there was a distinct stale taste that thankfully did not transmit to the cake. Second, use the juice of a whole lemon and the rind and juice of a whole orange. Otherwise the flavoring is very subtle.

Passover Nut Torte

6 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
juice of half a lemon
juice and grated rind of half an orange
1/2 cup matzo meal
2 tablespoons matzo cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat the egg yolks, add the sugar gradually and beat until the mixture is light in color. Add the lemon juice, orange juice and orange rind. Mix in the matzo meal, flour, salt and walnuts.
3. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold into the walnut mixture. Turn into an ungreased eight-inch springform pan and bake forty-five minutes or until cake tests done. This means, if you poke a skewer into the cake, it will come out clean, without any cake batter clinging to it.
The recipe makes eight servings.

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