Tips: I thought it might be nice
to include a wheat-free cake that would be suitable for my readers
who celebrate Passover; that was before I spent several frustrating
hours online trying to determine what was kosher for Passover and
what wasn’t. Apparently, it depends upon the precise sect
of Judaism to which one belongs and/or which rabbi one follows.
The nice people who manufacture the rice flour I used in two variations
of this recipe (Ener-G Foods, Inc. of Seattle) told me their product
is kosher for Passover, but a couple of websites claimed that no
rice flour was acceptable for this holiday. Hershey told me that
only their nonalkalized cocoa powder, not the Dutch process, was
kosher for Passover, but I found a website stating that alkalized
(Dutch process) cocoa powder was fine for the holiday. What I ended
up with was four spongecakes, but you’ll have to decide what
works best for you.
I believe that the best version of this cake is made with rice
flour and alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa powder. It has the highest
volume and the best texture. The worst version of this cake, as
far as appearances go, was made with rice flour and nonalkalized
cocoa powder. That cake developed such deep cracks I feared it would
fall out of the pan while cooling. It didn’t, but the cracks
were so deep you’d be forced to serve the cake upside down
to hide them.
You’ll need a 10 by 4 inch, two-piece tube pan to make this
cake. You’ll also need an electric stand mixer with a whisk
beater, a handheld mixer, a large whisk, a large rubber spatula,
and a bottle or funnel over which you can hang the cake upside down
to cool. This cake will keep for a few days at room temperature,
if stored airtight, but I don’t think it freezes well. Nice,
too, if you’re on a gluten-free diet.
Yield: 12-16 Servings
- 10 eggs, graded “large”, separated
- 1 cup sifted potato starch (also called potato flour) (see
- 1/2 cup nonalkalized unsweetened cocoa powder (see Notes)
- Pinch of salt
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar, preferably superfine, divided
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- Finely grated zest of 1/2 orange (no white pith, please)
- 3/4 tsp. cream of tartar
Lightly sweetened whipped cream
Fruit (especially berries)
Place egg whites in a very clean, non-plastic bowl of about 3-quart
capacity. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a slightly warm
place to allow to come to room temperature. Place egg yolks in a
mixer bowl of about 4-1/2-quart capacity. Cover with plastic wrap
and set aside to allow to come to room temperature.
Assemble tube pan. Do not grease or line. Set aside.
Adjust rack to center of oven. Have ready a metal funnel or clean,
empty bottle (an empty “fifth”, or 750 ml, bottle of
alcohol works well) upon which you can hang the cake to cool after
it bakes. The funnel/bottle should be able to suspend the cake pan
at least one foot above your tabletop.
Into small bowl, sift potato flour, cocoa powder,
and salt. With spoon, blend until mixture is an even color. Set
aside. Divide equal amounts of sugar into two bowls, using 3/4 cup
for each. Set aside.
Just before you start making the batter, check
the temperature of the egg whites. They should be almost, if not
quite, at room temperature (cold egg whites don’t achieve
nearly as great a volume when they’re beaten). Preheat oven
to 350 degrees F.
Attach whisk beater to electric stand mixer. Start
beating egg yolks at a low speed, then increase speed to highest.
Beat 2 full minutes. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with rubber
spatula. Add one bowl of sugar (3/4 cup) in three additions. Beat
at low speed to incorporate each addition, then beat at highest
speed for 30 seconds before adding next addition. When all the sugar
has been beaten in, scrape bowl bottom and sides. Beat yolk mixture
at highest speed for 1 minute. Add water and vanilla; beat at a
low speed to incorporate. Remove from mixer.
Using a large whisk, fold in about half of sifted
dry ingredients as well as orange zest. Set all aside.
Sift cream of tartar into egg whites. With handheld
mixer, beat at highest speed until very foamy and increased in volume.
Gradually add second bowl of sugar (the remaining 3/4 cup) in six
additions, beating after each addition until incorporated before
adding the next. Beat until mixture is just before stiff peak stage.
Work quickly from here on until you get the batter into the oven.
Add a large spoonful of beaten whites to egg yolk
mixture; fold in partially with large whisk. Repeat. Add remaining
sifted dry ingredients in three additions alternately with remaining
beaten whites in three additions, beginning with dry ingredients
and ending with whites. Don’t fold in any one addition too
thoroughly until all ingredients have been added, then fold everything
together just until batter is an even color, scraping bowl bottom
and sides with large spatula (depending upon the type of flour and
cocoa you use, the batter might almost fill this bowl).
Pour batter into tube pan, which will be about
2/3 full. Using a flat (table) knife, cut through the batter in
a spiral, starting at the outer edge and working inward until the
knife touches the center tube (this helps to eliminate large air
pockets in the baked cake). Place filled pan in oven and close door.
Do not open oven door to check cake for at least
25 minutes! After 30 minutes, open oven door; quickly but gently
rotate pan back-to-front. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick
into the highest part of the cake; if it emerges with only a few
moist crumbs clinging to it, the cake is done. Depending upon the
types of flour and cocoa powder used, this cake takes 30 to 45 minutes
to bake. Don’t overbake it!
When cake is done, remove to cooling rack. Quickly
but carefully insert the funnel or bottle neck into the center tube,
then invert the cake so it hangs upside down. Allow to cool undisturbed
(no drafts, no cats jumping onto the table or kids bumping it);
this will probably take at least two hours. When the cake has cooled
completely, decide if you’ll be serving it right side up or
upside down. If the former, run a thin, flat or plastic knife around
the edge of the cake to separate it from the sides of the pan. Gently
push the cake up from the bottom so that it releases from the sides
of the pan. I recommend that you keep the cake on the pan bottom,
complete with center tube. (You can run a thin, flat or plastic
knife between the bottom of the cake and the pan bottom, then run
the same knife around the tube to separate the cake from that, invert
the cake onto another cooling rack, then re-invert it onto a serving
plate, but the top of this gets sticky quite quickly, and you’ll
likely leave some of the handsome top on the cooling rack (remember,
confectioners’ sugar isn’t kosher for Passover in many
circles).) If you’ll be serving the cake upside down, separate
it from the pan sides, bottom, and tube as above, then carefully
invert onto the serving plate.
I like to serve this with very lightly sweetened
whipped cream and/or fruit. To cut, use a very sharp, serrated knife,
and a gentle sawing motion. Store aitight at room temperature for
up to a few days.
If desired, substitute rice flour for the potato flour,
using an equal amount.
If desired, substitute alkalized (Dutch process) unsweetened cocoa
powder for nonalkalized, using an equal amount.
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