One of the traditions surrounding the celebration of the Jewish holiday of Passover involves refraining from eating leavened products, in memory of the expeditious, unleavened flat-bread the Jews baked when they were fleeing slavery in ancient Egypt. The rest of the year, puffy, risen, yeasted loaves reign, but during the week of passover, matzah gets to incandesce. Baking unleavened desserts is always a diverting challenge, and, while one can use ground matzah as a flour-substitute, this year I decided that Passover would be the perfect opportunity to learn more about gluten -free baking, in special honor of my wonderful gluten-free readers.
(Super-fluffy cake batter...)
(with the magic of egg white peaks...)
Almonds, already a traditional base for middle-eastern desserts, seemed a natural theme for our Passover dessert this year... An almond citrus cake emerged, topped with a lusciously smooth buttercream. I don't fix buttercreamfrostings too often, as they are a rather immoderate dessert, but, with the aid of some lovely whipped low-fat cream cheese, Zach managed to brilliantly create an almost sensible buttercream...
Since it was a holiday, though, and cause for celebration, we were much more concerned with the fact that the cake was dense, moist, and abounding with deep almond and orange flavors, and the frosting was buoyant, silky, and just a wee bit tangy...
Complete with buttercream luxury, we declared our Passover seder menu a culinary success:
Vegetable Soup with Our Favorite Saffron Matzah Balls Yemenite Charoset with Apples and Cumin Zach's Masterful Roast with a Lemon Herb Glaze and Garlic Cream Broccoli Kugel Roasted Asparagus and Potatoes with Rosemary Almond-Citrus Cake with Lemon Buttercream
and, of course, "four cups" of wine (more like a glass or two of vigionier:-), the company of good friends, and plenty of matzah... :-)
Almond-Citrus Cake with Lemon Buttercream
4 eggs, separated 1/2 cup raw sugar 1 tsp orange zest 1 tsp cinnamon 4 oz raw almonds
2 T light vegan margarine 1 T lemon juice 1 tsp vanilla 8 oz low-fat cream cheese 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
~ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a bundt pan with cooking spray. ~ Whisk together the egg yolks, raw sugar, orange zest, and cinnamon to make a thick paste. ~ Whir the almonds in a food processor until a coarse meal is formed. ~ Stir the almond meal into the egg yolk mixture until an even thicker paste is formed. ~ Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. ~ Gently fold the egg whites into the almond mixture - it will take a bit of very careful folding, but gradually the paste will thin out into a light batter as the egg whites are incorporated. ~ Pour the batter into the bundt pan, and bake for 35 minutes - until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. ~ Allow the cake to cool in the pan. It will deflate quite a bit, rather like a souffle, but don't worry - it won't collapse all the way. ~ Meanwhile, make the lemon buttercream: Beat the vegan marg, lemon juce, vanilla, and cream cheese until smooth. Whip in the powdered sugar just until smooth. Chill until you're ready to frost the cake. ~ When the cake is cooled, invert the pan to remove the cake. Frost with the lemon buttercream, and garnish with a few whole almonds!
*Note: This makes a rather diminutive cake that serves around 5 people - double the recipe for a larger gathering... or more leftovers... :-)