Lemon Poppy Seed Passover Sponge Cake

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    12

Appears in

Healthy Jewish Cooking

Healthy Jewish Cooking

By Steven Raichlen

Published 2000

  • About

This tangy sponge cake is one of my favorite Passover desserts. At first glance, lemon and poppy seed couldn’t seem like less likely flavoring companions, the former high-pitched and bracingly tart, the latter muted and earthy. But put them together and you get one of the most pleasing contrasts of texture and flavor ever to pep up a sponge cake. The key to making a light sponge cake is to beat as much air as possible into the egg yolks and whites. Don’t overbeat the latter, however, or the cake will collapse.


Ingredients

  • 5 egg yolks
  • cups sugar
  • Grated zest of 2 lemons (about 1 tablespoon)
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup poppy seeds
  • 1 cup matzo meal cake flour
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch
  • 10 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup confectionerssugar or lemon glaze

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  2. Combine the egg yolks and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until thick, moussey, and pale yellow, about 8 minutes. (Start the mixer on low speed and gradually increase it to medium, then high. When the mixture is the proper consistency, it will fall from a raised whisk in a thick ribbon.) Beat in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and poppy seeds.

  3. Sift the matzo meal cake flour and potato starch over the yolk mixture and gently whisk to mix.

  4. Place the egg whites in another clean mixer bowl. Beat at low speed, until frothy, 2 minutes. Add the cream of tartar and salt. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Increase the speed to high and continue beating the whites until firm and glossy, but not dry, about 4 minutes more, 8 minutes in all. Gradually sprinkle the remaining ½ cup sugar into the whites as they stiffen.

  5. Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture and spoon the batter into an ungreased 10-inch angel food cake pan.

  6. Bake the sponge cake until the top is browned and springy and the cake is cooked through (test it by inserting a slender skewer—it should come out clean), 50 to 60 minutes. Invert the pan and let the cake cool completely before unmolding. Unmold the sponge cake onto a round platter. (You may need to loosen the edges of the cake with the tip of a paring knife. Give the mold a firm shake: the cake should slide out.)

  7. Sift the confectioners’ sugar over the cake. Or spoon the lemon glaze over it, if using. Cut the sponge cake into wedges for serving, using a serrated knife.

305 CALORIES PER SERVING; 6 G PROTEIN; 5 G FAT; .9 G SATURATED FAT; 61 G CARBOHYDRATE; 76 MG SODIUM; 88 MG CHOLESTEROL