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Thinking I have plenty of time before Passover, I agree to do a baking demo for Rebbetzin Devorah Kornfeld's women's group. Two funerals with their last minute turn around time leave me with 4 hours to make a few desserts before my presentation. I feel like it is erev yontif as I rush around the kitchen.
My strategy is to show recipes from a few cookbooks. One I select is the Lubavitch women's "Spice and Spirit" because everyone should own both the everyday and kosher for Passover versions. I also pick the book because there are no photos of finished products. Walking into the meeting, one of the women immediately states "My husband said not to make anything that doesn't have a photo!" Lack of photos and abbreviated directions are problematic. That said, I like to study a recipe as we do Torah. There is what is written and then there is an oral tradition. What was assumed years ago cannot be assumed today; most of us have lost the teachers who can give over the oral tradition that would teach us how to make a recipe. Subtle techniques, the feel for why a particular recipe is a family tradition are difficult to channel from words on a page ~ especially without a photo. Luckily, we have the internet!
I decide a nut sponge cake is about as traditional of a Passover cake as one can make. The basic technique is the same for all sponge cakes. I open "Spice and Spirit" and see "Chocolate Nut Cake". Reviewing the other sponge cake recipes offered, I note the similarities and differences. Hands down, this cake is unique: it has an apple grated into it, less potato starch than some, and has cocoa. No longer able to eat walnuts, I switch to ground almonds - can't make anything I can't eat! I also know from sponge cakes past that adding a little fresh lemon juice when not using cream of tartar helps stabilize the whipped egg whites.
Removing the cake from the oven, I'm surprised at how high it sits in the tube pan. Quickly inverting the cake to cool, I'm even more amazed when Benoit removes it from the pan an hour later. It sits tall, doesn't sag and is beautiful. This recipe would have been posted 2 weeks ago had I remembered to take a photo!
If I were a food stylist and not a caterer in the midst of cooking for 1200 people (and this is a light year!), there would be whipped topping and strawberries with the slice of sponge cake. However, I don't much care for the petroleum based whipped topping and some folks don't eat strawberries ever or 'fruit that can't be peeled' during Passover. No, I wouldn't want to offend anyone by garnishing the plate. This photo is taken after our video shoot yesterday....stay tuned! Gordon is editing like a bat outta ..... I mean, like Jews outta Egypt!
|Number of servings:||Large tube pan, about 16 - 20 servings|
|Skill Level:||2 (1 Easy - 5 Hard)|
|Estimated POINT value:|
- 9 eggs, separated (make sure that no yolk is in the whites!)
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided in half
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 1 apple, peeled and grated
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- 1 cup ground nuts
Preheat oven to 350' F.
Find your 10" tube pan and set aside. It should be oil free, do not grease the pan.
With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Slowly start to add 3/4 cups of sugar, a tablespoon or so at a time. Beat until very stiff. They'll be shiny but not dry. Set aside.
In another bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, egg yolks, cocoa, grated apple and potato starch. Beat thoroughly.
Add about 1/4 of the beaten egg whites to the bowl with the egg yolk mixture. FOLD in the egg whites. This will lighten the mixture.
Add the remaining egg whites and FOLD into the mixture until no white streaks remain.
Sprinkle the nuts over the batter. FOLD to combine. Keep a light hand so you don't deflate the batter.
Gently put the batter into the tube pan. Run a thin paring knife through the cake batter to make sure that there are no air pockets.
To remove the cake, gently cut around the pan. Remove the cake and cut the the bottom from the base. Gently work the cake off the middle tube. Place on a cake plate.
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Hi! Thank you for stopping by to watch me, Leah, cook kosher. I've been the owner operator of my boutique catering firm in Seattle, Leah's Catering, for the past 14 years.
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