Passover Cake that Passes: Almond Cake

Even though I'm not Jewish and I don't observe Passover, I usually bring unleavened baked goods to the office during the holiday. This year, I decided to try a recipe for a Spanish Almond Cake that I found on

The recipe is not difficult. You beat egg yolks and sugar until smooth and pale, add in lemon zest, orange zest, almond extract, and ground almonds, and then fold in egg whites that have been beaten to stiff peaks. I don't have the 11-inch springform pan specified in the recipe, but the headnote advises that the recipe works fine as a thicker cake, so I used a regular 9-inch pan instead. I lined the pan with parchment, buttered it, and dusted it with almond meal to keep the cake flour-free.

When the cake was cool, I tried to turn it out, but it was stuck. After a bit of a struggle and many efforts to loosen the cake around the edges, I was able to get it out in one piece; I think there would have less of a sticking issue if I had coated the buttered pan with flour instead of almond meal. As the recipe suggested, I dusted the cake with (cornstarch-free) powdered sugar before serving.

The cake was moist, with a very bright citrus-almond flavor. It had a tight crumb and the texture was indistinguishable from regular cake; the ground almonds were so fine that they didn't produce any crunch. (I think this was because I used Bob's Red Mill almond meal instead of grinding the almonds myself, as I can never get the almonds as fine as store-bought almond meal.)

I thought the cake was delicious, and tasters gave it enthusiastic reviews as well. But I knew it was truly a success when I found out that it was passing as a non-Passover cake. One of my colleagues who was observing Passover had a piece and then felt terrible about it afterwards. Apparently she had a momentary lapse and forgot it was Passover when she ate the cake. Of course, the funny part is that she only felt badly because she thought it was a regular cake. It had never crossed her mind -- and she was truly surprised when I told her -- that it was a Passover cake. I think that makes this recipe an unqualified success.

Recipe: "Almond Cake (Tarta de Santiago)" from Food of Spain by Claudia Roden, recipe available here on

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Louise said…
I wonder if potato starch would have prevented the cake from sticking to the pan. I believe that's Passover approved as that's what's in confectionery sugar. I use potato starch in some Scandinavian baking.
Sally said…
I made this for my students, one of whom is gluten-free. I made it with TJ's almond meal, which I already had, and my cake looked much "mealier" than yours, but it was delicious! I just buttered a 10" springform, and didn't have any problems with sticking.