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Related Links:
  • Passover Recipes from Capsouto Freres in NYC
  • NYC Restaurants Serving Special Passover Menus
  • Wheat-Free Chocolate Spongecake

    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.

    12-16 Servings


    • 10 eggs, graded “large”, separated
    • 1 cup sifted potato starch (also called potato flour) (see Notes)
    • 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

    For Serving:
    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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    ...Published: April 2005