This was my first attempt at making a Passover (Seder) friendly cake.
I adapted this recipe from Epicurious. It is really quite simple. I made it the evening before and decorated it the day of. While there are recommendations to just sprinkle slivered almonds on top prior to baking, I wanted to make it more visually appealing with some candied lemon slices. With a pool of chocolate marzipan in the middle, it looked like the cake was wearing a zesty halo of deliciousness.
Although there’s no flour, it is a sturdy cake with a moist and tightly woven crumb. It has the perfect density akin to a chiffon cake, thanks in part to the separate whipping of egg yolks and egg whites. It’s so good on its own that if I were to make it again, I’d just serve it with some whipped cream.
Lemon- Almond Torte (adapted from Epicurious)
Quality olive oil (not extra-virgin) for brushing pan plus 6 tbsp (for the cake)
4 tbsp unsalted matzo meal, divided
2 cups almond flour or almond meal (you can make your own by buying slivered almonds from the bulk store, toasting them and then grinding them in the food processor. However, I was pressed for time and just purchased Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour– I toasted it in the oven to bring out some depth of flavour: 325°F for 5-10 minutes, stirring to brown evenly)
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
6 large eggs, separated (Note: easiest to separate when eggs are cold from the fridge)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp orange juice
2 tsp finely grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
1/2 – 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt (I had coarse sea salt and used 1 tsp)
1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush 10-inch-diameter springform pan with oil (*I do not have a springform pan that large. I used a regular 10-inch pan, greased it liberally and used parchment paper. It came out perfectly). Line bottom with parchment paper round (* make sure you do this! It’ll make your life so much easier). Brush paper with oil. Place 2 tbsp matzo meal in pan and shake to coat; tap out excess.
Combine remaining 2 tbsp matzo meal, almond flour, and 1/3 cup sugar in medium bowl; whisk to blend.
Place egg yolks in large bowl; place egg whites in another large bowl. Add 1/3 cup sugar to yolks. Using electric mixer, beat yolk mixture until thick and fluffy (* I did this by hand. Took a couple of minutes. Stop when the mix starts to form ribbon-like strands). Beat in 6 tbsp olive oil, then lemon juice, orange juice, and lemon peel. Stir in extracts. Mix in dry ingredients.
Add 1 tsp salt to whites; using clean dry beaters, beat until soft peaks form ( * Again, I did this by hand with a balloon whisk. Didn’t take long). Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into yolk mixture in 3 additions. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Sprinkle almonds over (if using).
Bake cake until golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes (mine only took 30 minutes… so watch it carefully. If the top starts to brown too quickly, loosely drape a piece of aluminum foil over cake pan).
Place pan on rack; cool cake completely in pan.
Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover cake pan with foil and let stand at room temperature.
Candied Lemons (from Real Simple)
* like the best sweet and sour candy you’ve ever put into your mouth. You’ll pucker with delight at the tang and the chewiness.
In a small (* I used a medium one to cook more slices at once) saucepan, combine the sugar with ¾ cup water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the lemon slices and simmer until tender and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes (took way longer… about 14-15 minutes). Drain and let cool completely on a rack before placing on the cake.
* I used about 3 lemons for the cake.
** You can reserve the sweet and sour syrup and brush (sparingly!) on freshly baked cakes, muffins.