Passover Cake that Rises to the Heavens: Feather Sponge Cake

I've made a lot of desserts for Passover but I've always avoided recipes that call for matzo meal because I don't want to be stuck with a box of meal that sits unused on the shelf for the rest of the year. Of course, the problem is that if you avoid matzo meal, you're basically limited to a few types of desserts: coconut macaroons, meringues, flourless chocolate cakes, and cakes made with nut flours. I was intrigued when I noticed that Carole Walter has a recipe in Great Cakes with a totally different Passover option, a flourless citrus sponge cake made with potato starch. The headnote promises that "If made up properly, this beautiful cake will rise to the heavens."

To make the batter, you beat egg yolks and a whole egg; gradually add sugar and beat until thick and pale; add lemon and orange juice and zests; incorporate potato starch; and fold in egg whites that have been beaten with salt and sugar to soft peaks. I used a large balloon whisk to incorporate the whites into the batter and was able to preserve most of the volume. I poured the batter into a ungreased tube pan with a removable bottom and baked until golden. The batter rose a little above the top of the pan and after I took it out of the oven, I immediately hung the pan upside down over the neck of an empty wine bottle until the cake was completely cooled.
I was so impressed with the height and springy crumb of this cake; you would never know it was flourless. The texture reminded me of a cross between angel food and chiffon cake. The cake looked like an angel food cake but was softer and more floppy, like a chiffon cake. Most importantly, the cake tasted great -- very light and springy, with a delicate and not-too-sweet citrus flavor.

I can't say that this cake would necessarily stand out in my mind if I judged it against all cakes (or even just similar types of cakes baked in Bundt or tube pans) I've ever made. But as a Passover cake, it's memorable for sure. I'm still amazed that a flourless cake can reach such great heights.

Recipe: "Feather Sponge Cake" from Great Cakes by Carole Walter.


Sally said…
The key to the height is your upside down maneuver - without it, the cake sinks (I learned the hard way)...

My favorite Passover dessert is David Lebovitz's matzoh crack made into s'more sandwiches with homemade marshmallows and toasted with a creme brulee torch. It's one of the best things that I've EVER eaten.