Bake

Passover Lemon Sponge Cake

February 23, 2022
3.7 Stars
Photo by LINDA XIAO
Author Notes

In my family, every Passover my mother would bake her famous sponge cake. Throughout the year, sponge cake can be made with flour; however, at Passover, it cannot. My mother always made hers with potato starch (instead of flour), and she used extra-large or even jumbo eggs to provide the leavening.

This is not an easy task, but somehow my mother’s cakes always stood tall. Neither my sister nor I can remember her ever having one that deflated, a situation that has happened to most of us at one time or another as part of our baking ups and downs.

Whereas some recipes for Passover sponge cakes call for matzo cake meal as well as potato starch, I prefer the amazingly light texture that results from a cake made with potato starch only. Once you give this one a try, you'll see why.

The trick to making a good sponge cake is to beat as much air as possible into the separated eggs, folding them gently into the batter without overworking them and causing the whites to deflate.

Following in my mom’s footsteps, I make this delicious Passover Lemon Sponge Cake recipe every year. Some years it's higher than others, but it's always a sweet lemony and light finish to our Seder meal. Also feel free to make it with flour any time of year if you're craving a delicious cake like this one.

Note: This recipe also qualifies as a gluten-free cake since there is no flour in it. —dinner at sheila's

Watch This Recipe
Passover Lemon Sponge Cake
  • Prep time 45 minutes
  • Cook time 55 minutes
  • Serves 10 to 12
Ingredients
  • 8 extra-large or jumbo eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups extra-fine sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup potato starch, sifted
  • 1 dash kosher salt
  • Macerated strawberries, for serving
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Separate 7 of the eggs. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, in a large bowl, beat 7 of the egg yolks and 1 whole egg until frothy.
  2. Gradually add the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice, beating constantly and thoroughly, until lightened and fluffy.
  3. Gradually add the potato starch, beating constantly until well combined.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat 7 of the egg whites and the salt until stiff but not dry. Gently fold into the egg yolk mixture until combined.
  5. Transfer the batter to an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake for about 55 minutes, until the cake springs back when gently touched near the center as well as the edges.
  6. Invert the pan over a bottle if your pan doesn't have little feet to stand on. Let cool before removing the cake to a platter. Serve with the strawberries alongside.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • normadesmond
    normadesmond
  • Adrian Goldstein
    Adrian Goldstein
  • dinner at sheila's
    dinner at sheila's
  • Emily
    Emily

25 Reviews

normadesmond April 16, 2022
Never make this.

Followed recipe. Looked gorgeous coming out of the oven. I turned the footed cake pan upside down (as one always does with a sponge cake) and I noticed the cake seemed to move a little. I then popped the pan onto a bottle. A few moments later much of the cake fell to the counter. And no, the pan was not greased.

I will say that the cake, which I'm eating, tastes good. But it will be useless for tomorrow's dinner. Really, this is awful.
 
Emily April 15, 2022
followed the recipe exactly and it was a disaster. cake is full of holes. fell apart completely. need a new dessert for passover which is tonight. bummer.
 
Julie April 5, 2021
Help!
When I inverted the cake to cool, it fell out of the angel food cake Pan. (The cake didn’t look completely cooked near the bottom of the cake, the top was done.) The cake tasted great.
 
sue April 3, 2021
Excellent - or so I have been told. Baked the cake for my daughter-n-law and her family for their Passover dinner. I got rave reviews the following day. Comments like "best sponge cake I have ever had" and "delicious and moist". So while I can not vouch for it myself the Jewish side of my son's family thought it was wonderful.
 
Viney March 28, 2021
Used large eggs and kept the rest of the ingredients the same - this is pretty much the recipe my mom has been using for the past 50 years. First time making it today and it is perfection. Well, it would have been slightly more perfect with a 10" pan - mine was 8 or 9" and though it tasted absolutely lovely, it was a bit more unsightly.
 
Viney March 28, 2021
Oh, also I used just regular sugar and it made no difference. My mom's recipe beats the egg yolks and sugar for 10-15 minutes, so that's what I did also.
 
imsucre March 20, 2021
This was simply perfect and delicious. This is going to be my new go to sponge cake recipe. Thanks!
 
MontreuilMom April 18, 2020
This was a huge success this Passover. Light and airy, lemon scented. Followed the recipe exactly, except my pan was 8 inches!
 
Adrian G. April 11, 2020
My cake was flat!!??
 
[email protected] April 8, 2020
Alas. My sponge cake sunk. I usually use Manichevitz potato starch but This year it wasn’t available at my market so I got the potato starch on line. I once in previous years had a problem making this kind of sponge cake also I believe when I used a different brand of potato starch. I now believe there is a lot of diversity in potato starches. If I were to make this recipe again to be safe I would try 1/2 to 1 cup of potato starch.
 
Joyce April 20, 2019
I made this cake today instead of my standard Pesach sponge cake which uses matzo cake meal as well as potato starch This recipe came out beautifully high and fluffy with a nice texture. For my family, I will use less sugar next time, since it as a bit too sweet for us. I love lemon but might reduce the amount a bit in future. I think the lemon prevented that eggy taste typical of baking with lots of eggs This cake got raves and I will be making it again . It will definitely replace my old Pesach sponge cake recipe.
 
Author Comment
dinner A. April 4, 2020
So happy you enjoyed it, Joyce! I hope you’ll make it again this year
Thank you.
 
Steven T. April 14, 2019
HELP!!!!! I make this cake today, took it out of oven, all looked good, inverted and cooled it, but when I picked up the pan the top of the cake fell off! And the inside looked like it was hollow. The good news, the parts that fell off were quite yummy! But what did I do wrong??? My son asked for sponge cake for Passover like my mother used to make...I want to try again, and any tips are appreciated!
 
Author Comment
dinner A. April 1, 2020
Sorry this response is so late, but I just came across your comment. A few thoughts on why your cake fell apart. It is possible the egg whites were not beaten to the right consistency ( you don’t want to see any liquid in the bottom of the bowl after whipping them). Also be certain to fold them into your batter gently but thoroughly. Lastly make sure the cake is fully baked before letting it cool, and cool completely. I hope you can try it this Passover with better luck! Hope this helps.
 
Marlene J. April 13, 2019
Wonderful lemon flavor
 
Rosa April 2, 2019
Can I use a disposable bundt pan?
 
Author Comment
dinner A. April 12, 2019
I have only baked it in a
10-inch tube pan so that is what I recommend. Hope that helps.
 
Benita H. March 31, 2018
I have been making sponge cake for Passover for over 30 years...this one was perfection. I do not know if it was the extra fine sugar or the sitting of the potato starch and the sugar or the beating in lots of air in both the yolk stage and the white stage...all I know is it was high, it was light, it did not say, there were no pockets of egg white in the finished cake And most importantly, it was delicious. Thank you!
 
Author Comment
dinner A. January 31, 2019
So happy to see your comment. Sounds like you did everything right.
You are most welcome!
 
Author Comment
dinner A. April 6, 2015
So happy to hear that, Heidi ! Thanks for letting me know!!!
 
Heidi S. April 4, 2015
How high does this cake rise. I have a springform pan with a tube insert but it sides are not as high as a traditional angel food cake pan. . .
 
Author Comment
dinner A. April 6, 2015
I always make is in a 10-inch tube pan with sides that measure about 5-inches tall. The cake should rise to the top of the pan provided the egg whites are folded in correctly. Hope this helps.
 
Heidi S. April 6, 2015
I bought a new pan with higher side and made the cake this weekend. It was delicious and an absolute hit!!! It will become a regular in my repertoire! Thanks!
 
Author Comment
dinner A. April 5, 2020
Thank you!
 
Heidi S. April 5, 2020
Made sure I have enough eggs earmarked for this year's cake. Even though there will only be 3 around our table, this cake has become a tradition!