Editor's note: This post is part of a series spotlighting different family recipes used by members of the White House staff for Passover.
My Mom, Lois, has prepared every Seder meal (and every other holiday) for our family that I can remember. While my dad was serving in the army and my parents were stationed in Panama, my mom tried to make spongecake. Mom was pregnant with my older sister at the time. The cakes fell out of the pan when she inverted them. Mom’s Panamanian friends told her this was because she was pregnant-Panamanian folklore suggested that a pregnant woman shouldn’t “beat” eggs because this could mean that a mother would beat her child! She never really knew if it was the tropical humidity, the hand-held mixer or the folktale (or all three) that led to the cake failure. Well, the child (my sister, Ariel) was born in April and her birthday often coincided with Passover. A special birthday cake was needed. My mom took her Bubbe’s spongecake recipe, added my sister’s beloved chocolate to the recipe (used the new standing mixmaster that her mom gave to her) and that’s the story of our family chocolate spongecake. It is also my favorite thing to bring back with me after traveling home for Passover. A nice, sweet reminder of home during the holiday. And, I have to admit, even in the absence of tropical humidity, my attempts to replicate this delicious recipe have so far been unsuccessful. Which is part of why I still travel home for Pesach.
“Birthday Worthy” Chocolate Passover Spongecake
10 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup matco cake meal
1/4 cup potato starch
pinch of salt in the egg whites
1/2 cup + 1-2 T. fresh squeezed orange juice (fresh really makes a difference)
1 tsp. lemon rind
8 oz. coarsely chopped quality bittersweet chocolate (please, no chocolate chips)
Separate the eggs. Beat yolks til foamy, add sugar and beat well again. Combine cake meal and potato starch. Add this mixture into the egg mixture alternately with the orange juice. Fold in chopped chocolate.
Beat egg white til they form peaks. Gently fold into the egg/ chocolate mixture. Pour into an ungreased, metal tube pan (with separate tube). *It is important for this pan NOT to be the nonstick variety. Bake in preheated 325’ oven for 1 hr-1 hr. 15 min. until the top is nicely browned. Remove from oven. Immediately place a wine bottle into the tube and carefully invert the pan . Allow to completely cool. To remove from pan, run a knife around edges, take cake out with tube, then run knife around bottom of pan and invert onto a platter.
Delicious with strawberries. If not being served with meat, whipped cream is also great!
“Worth the Potchkey” Passover Kugel
1/2 lb. matzo farfel
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 can peaches (preferably in juice, not syrup), coarsely chopped
1 18 oz. can crushed pineapple in juice
1/2 cup raisins *
1/2 stick pareve margarine, melted (if Kosher and serving with meat), otherwise butter
1 generous teaspoon each-grated orange rind and lemon rind
1/2 teasp. salt
A separate mixture of 1/3 cup sugaar with 1/2 teasp. cinnamon for the topping.
Pour boiling water over farfel, drain, cook and separate piece with fork
Beat eggs until foamy, add both sugars, beat well. Then, add everything else, including canned fruit juices, (except cinnamon sugar mixture). Pour into a 12 x 15 baking pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake at 325” for 50-60 minutes. Enjoy!
*In our family, raisins are only added to 1/2 of the kugel, to please those who don’t like raisins
Jonathan Samuels is Deputy Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs and the House Liaison