Passover Nut Cake

This holiday sweet is sure to call up childhood memories.

By Elizabeth S. Bennett

From our feature A Well-Rounded Table: This recipe, from Aunt Sally Bower, is adapted from Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes From the Rabinowitz Family by Judy Bart Kancigor (Workman). This nut cake was the first recipe Kancigor tested for her book and when she tastes it, she says it instantly takes her back to her childhood home in Queens, N.Y., where her grandparents lived in an apartment above her immediate family. “It just tickles me that my grandchildren, who never met her, are tasting my grandmother’s food.”

1 cup matzo cake meal
1/2 cup potato starch
12 eggs, separated
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup seltzer
1 cup chopped walnuts (not too finely chopped)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Have ready an ungreased 10-inch tube pan with a removable bottom.

2. Sift the cake meal and potato starch together into a bowl, and set it aside.

3. Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light, gradually adding 1 cup of the sugar. Beat until the mixture is thick and lemon-colored, 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and seltzer. Gradually blend in the cake meal mixture. Stir in the nuts.

4. Using a clean, dry bowl and beaters, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium-high and add the remaining 1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating for 10 seconds after each addition, until stiff peaks form, about 9 minutes total. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it. Then add the remaining whites in three additions, folding them in until incorporated.

5. Scrape the batter into the tube pan, and bake on the center oven rack until the cake is golden brown, the top springs back when touched, and a cake tester comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours.

6. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the cake to rest for 30 to 45 seconds. Then invert the pan on its little feet (if your tube pan has them) or over a soda or wine bottle (making sure it sits level), and set it aside until the cake is completely cool.

7. Run knife around the center tube and the sides of the pan, and lift the tube from the outer pan. Gently slide the knife between the bottom of the cake and the pan, and lift the cake off the pan. Cut into slices and serve.

Yield: Makes 14 to 16 servings.


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