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Make a Traditional Passover Cake the Modern Way

March 24, 1988|DIANA WILLIAMS HANSEN | Hansen is a Louisville-based cooking consultant specializing in microwaving

This time of year, many Jewish families begin to think of ways to simplify Passover cooking. I have created a traditional Passover cake made with matzo meal for the microwave. I was fascinated with the notion that traditional customs could be modernized by using convenience appliances and cookware.

To adapt the cake from the regular conventional recipe, I used a 9-inch (8-cup) microwave ring pan instead of a springform pan. The tube in the center of the pan helped the cake microwave evenly. The pan was greased with oil to prevent the cake from sticking.

A Few Changes Needed

The original cake recipe used six eggs and just cup matzo meal. In order to microwave the cake quickly and evenly, I reduced the eggs to four and increased the matzo meal to 1/2 cup. This made for a slightly drier but still fluffy batter. The eggs were separated and both the yolks and the whites were beaten well with some of the sugar to stabilize the batter for microwaving.

The microwaved cake with figs was delicious both with and without its special syrup topping, which added a delicious final touch.

For one cup snipped figs, start with seven to eight Calamyrna or 14 to 15 black Mission figs, approximately 5 ounces. If possible, purchase sliced unblanched almonds to grind--the ground skins give an attractive color to the finished torte. To keep the cake moist, cover it well as soon as it is cool.

PASSOVER FIG CAKE

1 cup dried figs, finely snipped

1 cup ground almonds

1/2 cup matzo meal

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 eggs, separated

3/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

Honey-Cognac Syrup, optional

Combine figs, almonds, matzo meal and cinnamon in medium bowl. Set aside.

Beat whites until foamy in large mixer bowl with electric mixer at high speed. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar and salt, beating to form stiff glossy meringue. Beat egg yolks and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in small bowl at high speed until mixture is light yellow and very thick.

Gently pour yolks over meringue, then sprinkle fig mixture over top. Fold in yolks and fig mixture with rubber spatula to make light fluffy batter. Pour into oiled 9-inch ring pan. Microwave at HIGH (100% power) 5 to 8 minutes, rotating pan 1/4 turn every 2 minutes, until cake pulls away from sides of pan and seems firm. (There may be small amount of moist batter on top. This will dry as cake cools.)

Invert cake on cooling rack until cool. Remove cake from pan. Spoon about 6 tablespoons Honey-Cognac Syrup into bottom of pan used to bake cake. Replace cooled cake. Pour remaining syrup over cake. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand 1 hour or more, until syrup is absorbed, before unmolding again. Makes 8 to 12 servings.

Honey-Cognac Syrup

1/3 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons Cognac, optional

Combine water, sugar and honey in 1 1/2-quart microwave casserole. Microwave at HIGH (100% power) 2 1/2 to 4 minutes, until sugar is dissolved and mixture has boiled and thickened. Add Cognac and stir well.

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