Why is this Passover sponge cake different from all others? The question echoes the traditional Seder night question—not actually about cake of course—asked by the youngest child present, in order to frame the holiday's celebration of freedom: "What makes this night different from the others?"
Well, this year, it might just be my Passover sponge cake! It’s suitable for Passover because it’s free of flour and leavening—as a reminder that the exodus from Egypt left no time for bread to rise. But it’s also grain-free and gluten-free and made with flour from root vegetables, known as tiger nuts. (The flour is nut-free, and tiger-free, regardless of moniker.)
Just as all great Passover cakes are always too good to reserve just for Passover (or Jews, for that matter), a great grain-free, gluten-free cake can be delicious enough for the more carefree eaters among us to enjoy, too. Please don’t save this sponge cake for Passover, or Jewish friends, or friends with dietary restrictions. It’s one of the lightest, moistest, most delicious sponge cakes I have ever made or tasted. It’s fragrant and flavorful with citrus and cinnamon.
It’s also easy to make. The method is just like any other separated egg sponge—you can get some good tips for better sponge cakes here. There is just one quirky trick: The optional cinnamon isn’t blended into the batter, but sprinkled over layers of batter as you fill the cake pan. Weirdly—and I promise this is the only weird thing about this cake—the cake tastes better this way than with the cinnamon blended in. Some things can’t be explained, even at Passover!
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).