Sponge Cake with Tiger Nut Flour

April  5, 2017
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes one cake
Author Notes

I know it sounds crazy to make such a traditional cake with something as untraditional—even weird sounding—as tiger nut flour. But the results are ethereally light, almost magically moist, fragrant with citrus (and cinnamon if you like) and utterly delicious. Nothing weird about it!

Whipped cream is a great accompaniment if you are allowing dairy, and you might consider sliced ripe strawberries—but the cake doesn’t really need them! I sometimes grate a bit of a cinnamon stick over each serving. Feel free to make the cake a day or two ahead; it stays moist and gains in flavor. This is a great new sponge cake—you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy it. —Alice Medrich

What You'll Need
  • Ingredients
  • 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
  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325° F. If your tube pan does not have feet, locate a bottle or something that will allow you to suspend and cool the cake upside down.
  2. Put 1 cup (200 grams) of the sugar and the salt in a large bowl. Grate the zest of one orange and the lemon over the sugar.
  3. Squeeze, and set aside, enough of the orange to make 6 tablespoons of juice. In a separate cup, squeeze enough of the lemon to make 2 teaspoons of juice.
  4. Add the egg yolks to the sugar and beat with the handheld mixer until very light and thick. (If you have arm strength and stamina, you can do this by hand with a whisk.) Beat in the orange juice, tiger nut flour, and starch. Set aside.
  5. Put the eggs whites and lemon juice in the bowl of the stand mixer. Beat with the whisk attachment on medium–high speed until the whites are creamy white (no longer translucent) and hold a soft shape. Slowly sprinkle in the remaining ¼ cup sugar, beating on high speed until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.
  6. Scrape 1/3 of the egg whites on top of the yolk mixture and fold until almost completely blended. Fold in the remaining egg whites in two additions.
  7. If using cinnamon, scrape about one third of the batter into the pan and sprinkle pinches of half of the cinnamon over it. Cover with half of the remaining batter and sprinkle with the rest of the cinnamon. Top with the remaining batter. If not, scrape all of the batter into the pan. Tilt the pan to level the batter. Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown and springs back when gently pressed (about 30 minutes). A wooden skewer inserted into the cake should come out clean. Invert the pan over a bottle and let it cool for at least two hours before setting right side up.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • K.V.
  • Alice Medrich
    Alice Medrich
  • maggiesara
  • Juan Van SchoorJuan
    Juan Van SchoorJuan
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, 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!).

9 Reviews

maggiesara April 20, 2019
I did indeed add the xantham, split the cake into three layers, and paved each layer with (in order) lemon syrup, lemon marmalade, praline buttercream, and lemon curd (these last two made with Earth Balance, to keep things dairy-free); it was then covered in meringue and torched. It looked gorgeous and, I have to say, tasted incredible. One guest said it was the best Passover dessert she's ever had. It's going to be my go-to for seders from now on. I'm delighted with it.
Carmen October 17, 2020
how much xantham did you use?
K.V. September 19, 2021
1/4 tsp, see her 4/11/19 comment.
maggiesara April 11, 2019
Oh, I am just thrilled. I made this as a tester for Passover seder. When I took it out of the oven, it was so damp and so fragile that I thought there was no way I could use it as I had planned, although it tasted delicious, so I thought well, I could always just serve it plain, with some strawberries -- not as fancy-schmancy as I would like, but certainly tasty.

I did want to see, though, if there was any possibility of using it for the elaborate dessert I had planned -- a take on a recipe from "Tartine" for lemon meringue cake. So I sliced the cake in thirds (that was tricky!), let them dry on racks overnight, and then layers them, in a plastic-lined springform tin, with tart lemon syrup and some plain vanilla buttercream. I'll be damned: After six hours in the fridge, this is terrific. And YES it will hold up perfectly. So I'm going to bake another one, layer it with the syrup, some super-tart lemon curd and some praline-flavored buttercream (both Kosher for Passover), and then cover it with meringue and serve it with strawberries. It will look gorgous and be SO much more delicious than any Passover dessert I've ever had. THANK YOU!!

And a final note....I am thinking about adding 1/4 teaspoon xantham gum to the flour/starch blend, to try to make the cake a little less fragile. Anyone have any thoughts there?
maggiesara April 10, 2019
The cake rose beautifully and tastes very good, but it's just unbelievably fragile and damp. I'm going to try leaving it out on a rack overnight and hope that it dries out some.
Juan V. July 17, 2018
Is there way using a sugar alternate?
Faith B. March 26, 2018
where do you find kosher for passover tiger nuts? and tiger nut flour?
Alice M. March 26, 2018
I use Gemini Organic Tiger Nut Flour. It is marked Kosher Pareve (though not Kosher For Passover). I've written them to ask whether it might also be Kosher for Passover. I'm waiting for their response. I am not as observant as you might be: my idea of a Passover sponge is one that does not include leavenings or regular flour. The tiger nut is a root vegetable and tiger nut flour is a dried and ground up version of same.
Faith B. March 27, 2018
Thank you for checking on this for me. Yes while there is nothing inherently not for passover in this product we are also careful about other products they produce at their plant. looking forward to your reply