Happy Saturday from the Sunshine State!
All three Buddhas made it over the blizzard clouds and through the wind to the House of Mouse we came to celebrate Mom’s 65th birthday (today!). It’s the first family vacation we’ve taken in…fifteen years? Anyway, it’s been 2 days, no one has died yet, and we all seem to be having a very merry good time.
The sun, while tinged with a hint of chill, has been a welcome change for all of us, who are drawn and tired and pasty from the winter months. It’s been low stress and unscheduled, just the way vacations tend to be as we get older. Gone are the 7 am wake up calls and rushing from activity to activity and we’re all the more relaxed for it.
However, we can’t be celebrating any birthday without some cake, and this year for Mom, I obliged with a cake of which I’ve only heard for years and years and years. This orange matzo cake, or Passover cake, was supposedly the cake that grandma made for Mom’s birthday every year while she was growing up, but in my lifetime, we’ve never had it; ice cream cake got priority. BUT, since ice cream cake can’t be transported across the country in a carry-on* (successfully), this childhood favorite was the obvious way to ring in 65.
This works much the way our traditional Hungarian tortes do: eggs as a base, almond meal and matzo meal as a filler, a hint of orange and topped with simply whipped cream (though Mom said it doesn’t need it, and it doesn’t, why wouldn’t you put whipped cream on it? Silly mother). Gluten-free and fabulous, it’d be the perfect light dessert for any occasion, especially tea. I just really wanted to throw a tea party when I was done.
- 8 eggs, separated
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 TB orange zest
- 1/4 cup passover or other sweet wine
- 1/3 cup almond meal
- 2 TB potato starch
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 1/4 cup matzo meal
- sweetened whipped cream for serving (optional)
- powdered sugar for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 325F. Prepare 2 8” cake pans with grease, sugar and parchment. Set aside.
- In the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment, beat the whites until stiff. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.
- Back in the mixer bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale yellow. Add the salt, cinnamon and orange zest. Slowly add the almond meal, potato starch and matzo meal, alternating with the wine and orange juice and beat until just incorporated.
- Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the sugar mixture. Divide the batter into the two cake pans.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for about 5 minutes and invert onto cooling racks to finish cooling.
- You can stack these layers and frost with sweetened whipped cream, or simply serve dusted with powdered sugar.
Happy Birthday Mom!
*My bag got searched, I’m guessing because of the cinnamon and the TSA guy was like, “What kind of cake is it? Does it have cinnamon? I smell cinnamon.” He totally wanted a slice.
Written overlooking the lagoon.