A New, Improved Sponge Cake For Passover

Custardy zabaglione and roasted orange slices modernize the once-passe dessert.

Jewish Week Online Columnist
Total time: 
60
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Sponge cake is the new flourless chocolate cake.

Yes, that’s what I said.

After all this time, it’s fair to say that flourless chocolate cake is so 1980s. Back then, and for years after, its rich and fudgy fabulousness usurped the place sponge cake had held in the pantheon of Passover desserts. But that was a long time ago,  and I’m here to tell you that one generation’s flourless chocolate cake is the next generation’s sponge cake.

So this year I’m going back to the future. Because when you make it right, and serve it with a rich, creamy sauce (like zabaglione) and some sweet fruit  (like roasted, cinnamon-scented oranges) Passover dessert doesn’t get any better.

Ronnie Fein is a cookbook author and cooking teacher in Stamford. Her latest book is Hip Kosher. Visit her food blog, Kitchen Vignettes, at www.ronniefein.com, and follow her on Twitter at @RonnieVFein.

Ingredients: 
For the sponge cake:
12 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1 ¾ cups sugar
6 tablespoons orange juice
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons orange zest, from oranges used to make roasted orange slices (recipe below)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup matzo cake meal, sifted
1/3 cup potato starch
Passover zabaglione (recipe below)
Roasted orange slices (recipe below)
For the roasted orange slices:
6 navel oranges
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
For the zabaglione:
8 large egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh orange peel, from oranges used to make roasted orange slices
½ cup sweet white Passover wine
Fresh mint leaves, for garnish
Recipe Steps: 
For the sponge cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 10-inch tube pan or 11-inch spring-form pan. Line the bottom with greased parchment paper.
Beat the egg yolks and 1 cup of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer set on medium-high for 3-4 minutes or until mixture is thick and pale yellow. Stir in the orange juice, lemon juice, orange zest and lemon zest. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Continue beating, gradually adding remaining ¾ cup sugar. Beat until whites are glossy and stand in peaks. Stir about ¼ of the beaten whites into the yolk mixture. Gently fold the remaining whites into the yolk mixture.
In a small bowl, whisk together matzo cake meal and potato starch. Gently fold the mixture into the egg batter in small amounts, about ¼ of the mixture at a time. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. If using an tube pan, invert the cake to cool. If using a spring-form pan, cool the cake on a rack.
When ready to serve, spoon some of the zabaglione onto serving dishes, place a slice of cake on top and surround with roasted orange slices. Makes 12 servings
For the roasted orange slices: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. After zesting the oranges (see other recipes), peel them, removing as much of the white pith as possible. Cut each orange crosswise into 4 even slices. Place slices on a baking sheet and brush tops with coconut oil and sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and mint. Roast for about 4 minutes, then turn slices over and roast for another 4-6 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside. Makes 12 servings
For the zabaglione: Place the egg yolks, ¾ cup sugar and orange zest in the top part of a double boiler over barely simmering water. Beat with a handheld mixer on medium speed for about 3 minutes or until mixture has thickened slightly and is pale in color. While continuing to beat constantly, gradually going from medium to high speed, gradually add the wine. Beat for 8-10 minutes or until mixture is thick and fluffy. The zabaglione can be served warm or at room temperature. Makes about 3 cups