The never ending search for the perfect Seder dessert continues. This one’s coming close.
Of course, my family would probably say the prefect Passover dessert has already been found in my mother in law Irene’s hazelnut strawberry shortcake. Problem is, delicious as it is, I couldn’t bring the shortcake to my kosher friends’ seder, since it is served with whipped cream and the Seder is a meat meal.
The fallen middle in this torte is a given. It’s what happens when you depend on eggs alone for your leavening, pouring an air filled light batter into your pan, then holding your breath as you place it into the oven. You have two choices at that point – either bake it till its hard and dry, with a crust sturdy enough to stand up as it cools, or keep it lightly browned and moist and just let it fall as it cools. I chose the latter, testing several times till the tester came out clean to be sure I wasn’t under-baking the center, and taking the cake out before the top started to split or got too brown. I was worried when it fell, till I compared my torte to the picture in Epicurious – their’s fell about the same amount as mine.
Despite the fall, this torte is quite delicious. The cake itself is incredibly moist, not too dense, not too sweet and really just plain lovely. The strawberry sauce, while thin, is not too sweet and a perfect accompaniment. Even better, this dessert can be made a day or two ahead, as I have done.
You know what? I think this may actually be the perfect Seder dessert.
Almond-Lemon Torte with Strawberries
Adapted from a recipe by chef Diane Rossen Worthington on Epicurious. I found using my hand held beater easier than switching and cleaning bowls for the standup mixer. Plus I think it whips things lighter.
- 6 tbsp olive oil (plus a little more to brush the pan)
- 4 tbsp matzo meal (2 tbsp for the pan, 2 tbsp for the torte)
- 2 cups almond flour or almond meal
- 1 cup sugar, divided into thirds
- 6 large eggs (you’ll be separating them)
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp orange juice
- 2 tsp lemon zest, fine (I use this lemon zester)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
Sauce and berries:
- 5 cups sliced and stemmed strawberries (about 2 pounds), 2 cups for sauce, 3 cups to serve
- 2 tbsp sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush 10-inch-diameter springform pan with oil. Line bottom with parchment paper round or wax paper. Brush paper with oil. Place 2 tbsp matzo meal in pan and shake to coat; tap out excess.
Combine remaining 2 tbsp matzo meal, almond flour, and 1/3 cup sugar in medium bowl; whisk to blend.
Separate eggs – yolks to a largish bowl, whites to a medium bowl.
Add 1/3 cup sugar to egg yolks and beat until thick and fluffy. Beat in 6 tbsp olive oil, then lemon juice, orange juice, and lemon zest. Mix in dry ingredients. Clean your beaters and wipe them dry.
In the other bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon salt to egg whites; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry.
Fold whites into yolk mixture in 3 additions. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Sprinkle almonds over top.
Bake cake until golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 – 50 minutes. (It took me 50 mins) Remove to rack and cool cake completely in pan.
Can be made 2 days ahead. Store in pan, covered with foil at room temp.
For sauce and berries:
Combine 2 cups sliced strawberries and 2 tbsp sugar in blender or food processor; blend until smooth. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
Cut around cake; release pan sides. Cut cake into wedges. Serve with sauce and remaining sliced strawberries.