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For Lighter, Never-Dry Sponge Cake, Try This Alternative Flour

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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?"

A feast for the eyes
A feast for the eyes Photo by James Ransom

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.)

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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.

What's a Tigernut (& How Does It Taste)?

What's a Tigernut (& How Does It Taste)? by Sarah Jampel

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Um, Tiger Nut Flour? Yes, Tiger Nut Flour!

Um, Tiger Nut Flour? Yes, Tiger Nut Flour! by Alice Medrich

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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!

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Sponge Cake with Tiger Nut Flour

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Makes one cake

Ingredients

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  • 1-2 large oranges, preferably organic or unsprayed
  • 1 large lemon, preferably organic or unsprayed
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar (250 grams), divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
  • 1 cup (95 grams) tiger nut flour
  • 1/4 cup (40 grams) potato starch
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, optional
  • Powdered sugar for dusting, optional

Equipment

  • A handheld mixer and a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment
  • 10 to 12 cup tube/angel food cake pan with removable bottom
Go to Recipe

What's on your table this Passover? Let us know in the comments!