Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Passover Spongecake

Why, readers might reasonably ask, is this woman writing about Passover recipes after Passover? Well, it's like this. After letting this blog trail on for three years, supposedly trying to write and eat my way through the Northeast section, I vowed that this year would be the year I actually finished the Northeast and moved on to the South. Passover Spongecake is in the recipe section of the Northeast, and I still have a goodly amount of Passover ingredients, to whit, matzo cake flour (or meal) and potato starch. So, the Episcopalians got another dose of Passover baking for their Monday night religious study. They like it just fine. Helen, one of the participants, took the leftovers home in delight.
If you have never made, or eaten a Passover cake, you are in for a treat. Even Jews may not be aware of how good Passover baked goods can be. I say this because my Jewish expert, Rabbi-in training Margaux Yael Buck of St. Louis, told me that Passover baking was "very heavy" because of the lack of leavening. Well, girl, you wrong there, although your scholarship in other Judaic matters is not to be faulted. All the Passover recipes in this book are marvelously light concoctions, made so by beaten egg whites. And so it is with spongecake.
If you are not Jewish and find yourself intrigued by these recipes, ask your Jewish friends if they have any matzo cake flour or potato starch. They probably do. I doubt if you would be able to find these ingredients in your average supermarket now, since it is after Passover. You probably can find Elite Chocolate, but the rest of it, ehh, probably not. I confess, I haven't looked. I was combing the stores for the stuff before Passover, but then, I was able to find it, so I stopped looking.
I only had about 1/3 of a cup of potato starch, so I put in an extra 1/4 cup of matzo cake meal. This seemed to work fine. I do not advocate fooling around with baking recipes as a regular practice however. Baking always seems to me like chemistry. Follow the recipe or dire events ensue.
If you are not Jewish, or even if you are Jewish, but do not keep Kosher, I encourage you to ignore the instructions about pouring the cake into an ungreased cake pan. Doing that makes it well-nigh impossible to get the cake out of the pan in one piece. Grease the pan, cooks. If you do keep Kosher, you will know better than I do what to use to get the cake out of the pan.
This spongecake is light and delicious, with a mild lemon flavor. If you like lemon, you can increase the lemon juice to the juice of a whole lemon. Bob spread lemon curd and current jelly on top in place of an icing. It is possible that spongecakes are not meant to be iced. I don't know for sure. Anyone out there have any opinions on the matter?

Passover Spongecake

8 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sugar
grated rind of two lemons
juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup matzo cake meal
3/4 cup potato starch
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar, lemon rind and lemon juice until yolks are thick and lemon-colored. (This takes about a minute.)
3. Sift together the matzo cake meal, potato starch and salt. Fold the egg whites and dry ingredients alternately into the yolks. Pour the mixture into two ungreased (see narrative) eight-inch layer pans and bake one hour, or until done. Invert in pans, on a rack and let cool thoroughly. Makes 12 servings.

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