Speaking of Passover, my contribution to the Seder meal this year was dessert. And considering the fact that my mother’s birthday was the day before, I must admit that I felt the pressure to deliver!
I did quite a bit of research into Seder-safe dessert options, and after hearing horror stories of matzo-meal cake disasters I was rather apprehensive about risking all on a cake made essentially out of cracker crumbs.
So I didn’t. Instead, I made two cakes. One was an apple cake (made with the feared matzo-meal!), and the other was an absolutely sinful flourless chocolate torte. (That one was in honor of my mother; chocolate is pretty much her favorite thing after my father. And yoga. Her favorite thing after Dad and yoga.)
Both were winners…and I have now been locked in as dessert-maker for all future seders. And matzo-meal isn’t as scary as it sounds! You can buy it in the store, or make your own by simply throwing some broken pieces of matzo bread in a food processor and pulsing until ground into fine crumbs (ie. about the size of breadcrumbs you’d use for fried chicken).
Passover Apple Cake
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 1/2 cups sugar (total)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon mace
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil, plus more for baking dish
3/4 cup matzo cake meal
5 medium apples*, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
* I used Pink Lady, but any crisp, medium-tart apple will do. I wouldn’t recommend Granny Smith, unless you like your cakes sour. (You could try Crispin, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, for example.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack set in the center. Lightly spray an 8″ springform or square glass baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
- Mix together nuts, half of the sugar (3/4 cup), and spices in a medium bowl; set aside.
- Beat eggs on medium speed until well combined. Gradually beat in remaining 3/4 cup sugar, until mixture is thick and foamy. With the mixer running, slowly pour in oil and blend. With a spoon stir in matzo meal.
- Pour half of the batter into prepared cake pan. Layer half of the apples and sprinkle half of the nut-sugar mixture. Pour over remaining batter and top with remaining apples; press the apples down a bit so that you can see the batter rising up through the cracks. Sprinkle over the remaining nut-sugar mixture.
- Transfer cake to oven and bake until the sides of the cake pull away from the baking dish very slightly and topping begins to caramelize, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove cake from oven and let stand for at least 1 hour before serving. (This is a good recipe to make a day or two beforehand, because the flavors of the spices strengthen with time.)