I came across this recipe in Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Cake Bible, a book that really deserves that name. I found the short ingredient list really intriguing and decided to give it a try. I first made this cake a few months ago; it had rave reviews from friends, so, I thought in addition to the classic Pesach cake and other treats, I would add this new torte to my Passover recipes archive.
The recipe below is only half the original recipe and it makes enough cake to feed at least 6 people, 6 hungry people with a sweet tooth that is. I bake it in a 7 inch springform but if you are feeding a crowd, then double the recipe and bake it in a 10 inch springform pan, the baking time does not change.
The torte tastes almost like a super rich chocolate mousse when it’s at room temperature but when it’s cold from the fridge it has the texture of really dense and full of chocolate fudge.
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 8 oz. (227 grams) kosher for Passover chocolate
- 4 oz. (1 stick/113 grams) unsalted butter
- Cocoa powder (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425F. Butter a 7 inch springform pan, line the bottom and the sides with parchment paper and wrap it with two pieces of foil (like you would for a cheesecake, the torte is baked in a water bath).
Melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler, set aside.
Crack the eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer or the bowl you will be whipping them in and heat them gently over a double boiler whisking constantly, once the eggs are warm to the touch, remove from the heat and whip on high speed until they have tripled in volume, for about five minutes.
Pour half the whipped eggs into the melted chocolate and butter and fold with a spatula, add the remaining eggs and fold gently into the chocolate mixture, make sure there are no white streaks remaining in the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and place it in a large baking pan, pour hot water to reach about half way up the springform pan bake for 5 minutes, cover with buttered aluminum foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool, for about an hour.
Once the torte has cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours, overnight is best.
About half an hour before serving, remove the torte from the fridge, unmold and let stand at room temperature. Cut thin slices with a knife dipped in hot water and serve with a light dusting of cocoa or raspberry sauce as suggested in the book.
My last post was the leek fritters, a classic for the Passover Seder, this gluten-free, vegetarian spinach gratin is usually made for the desayuno (breakfast), snacks and enjoyed both during Pesach and some families, including mine, make it year round. There are two kinds, one with matzoh and one without. Last year I posted the spinach and matzoh pie but since I make this gluten-free one more often, I thought I would share this one too.
It’s easy to make, tastes great and the best part is that it can be made ahead of time. Either make the gratin and refrigerate it for up to two days before baking or make it a week or two weeks before you are planning on serving, wrap it tightly and freeze. Let the frozen gratin thaw in the fridge overnight before baking, the taste and texture will not be affected by freezing.
- 2 lb. fresh baby spinach
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup fresh ricotta, goat’s cheese or feta
- ¼ grated parmesan cheese
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Oil to grease the baking dish
- Grated cheese such as cheddar, kasseri or gruyere
Preheat the oven to 375F. Wash the spinach and put in a very large pot with a few tablespoons of water, cover with a lid and let it steam, transfer to a colander and let it cool. Once the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze as much liquid as you can.
Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat and sauté the onion until soft and takes on a light colour, turn off the heat and let it cool.
In a large bowl, combine the spinach, eggs and cheeses, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, transfer the mixture to a baking dish and top with the cheese. Bake until the cheese has melted and looks golden. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
Leek fritters, pirasa koftesi, kufte de prasa or fried leek patties are the quintessential Sephardic dish for Passover. To make these fritters, finely sliced leeks get cleaned thoroughly, steamed until softened, drained and mixed with a little ground meat and eggs, they are then dipped in matzoh meal and eggs and finally fried oil until golden. Each family has their unique recipe for it, some use ground meat, some mashed potatoes but the result is always worth the effort.
Like all fried food, the leek fritters are best as soon as they are made but if you are making a very large batch, then transfer them to an oven proof dish and keep them warm at about 170F until ready to serve.
If fried food isn’t your thing or prefer a lighter version of this tasty treat, next week I’ll be posting a baked leek dish.
- 3-4 medium leeks
- 3-4 oz. ground beef, extra lean
- 1 egg
- 1-2 tbsp matzoh meal
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Matzoh meal
- Oil for frying
Cut the leeks into ½ inch slices; wash in lots of cold water, repeat if necessary until the leeks are clean. Transfer to a pot and add about half a cup of water, cover with a lid and cook over medium high heat, until the leeks are soft.
Transfer the cooked leeks to a colander and let them cool, once they are cool enough to handle squeeze as much water as possible from the leeks.
Mix the cooked leeks with ground beef, egg and matzoh meal, season with salt and pepper and shape them into patties of about 3 inches in diameter and about an inch thick, refrigerate the patties if not serving right away.
About half an hour before serving, heat oil in a frying pan, dredge the patties in matzoh meal shaking off the excess and dip into the egg, fry on both sides until golden brown. Put the patties on a plate lined with paper towels to remove the excess oil and serve them hot or warm.
Most bakeries in Istanbul display these pretty loaves at their windows and they are available not just for Easter but year round! Fragrant with mastic and mahlepi, enriched with butter, eggs and milk, the breads have a brioche like texture and are commonly enjoyed in the afternoon with tea or coffee.
Mahlepi or mahlab is usually added to savoury cookies, pastries, buttery turnovers while mastic is generally used for desserts, especially dairy based ones such as this mastic pudding, Turkish coffee or jams but the combination of these two flavours is a match made in heaven. If you are after the same combination but don’t want to fuss with yeast, this mahlepi and mastic cookies or cake is a great alternative.
I adapted this recipe from my favourite Turkish cookbook, Classical Turkish Cooking by Ayla Algar. Out of all the recipes I tried for this special bread Ms. Algar’s is by far the closest to the ones from my childhood.
I am sending this to Yeastspotting.
- 3 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 ½ tsp instant yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground mahlepi
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp mastic
- 2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 stick butter, melted
- ½ cup whole milk, lukewarm
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp heavy cream
- Chopped or sliced raw hazelnuts (almonds can be substituted)
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, salt and mahlepi. Crush the mastic with sugar using a mortar and pestle and add it to the flour mixture, mix for a few seconds, then add the eggs, egg yolks, melted butter and warm milk, mix until a ball of dough forms, continue mixing until the dough looks smooth, you can also knead it on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, let it ferment until doubled in volume, this should take about 3 hours, depending on the room temperature and the temperature of the ingredients used.
Divide the dough into six equal pieces and shape two 3 stranded loaves, transfer them to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper leaving at least 3 inches space between the loaves. Let them proof for 1-3 hours, until almost doubled.
Preheat the oven to 350F, prepare the glaze by lightly beating the egg yolk with the cream and brush all over the breads, wait for 5 minutes and brush again with the glaze and top with nuts, if using.
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown, the breads have a tendency to get dark very quickly, if that happens, tent with a piece of aluminum foil.
Once the breads are done, remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack, serve with the jam of choice or honey.
I bought my first bread book about 11 years ago thinking that it would be fun to try out a few recipes, before the end of that year, I had made more than half of the recipes in that book, using mostly white flour. Most of the breads were enriched with eggs, milk, pureed vegetables, cheese or olives. Then I slowly moved on to recipes using less yeast and more whole grain flours. And about five years ago, my dear friend K. gave me a jar of her sourdough, I started experimenting the next day and I fell in love with it. I then bought countless bread books and studied them; I got to learn some the science behind it.
The recipe below is made with wild yeast and is enriched with milk, oil and eggs. It’s soft but not sticky and very easy to handle, similar to challah in a lot ways but includes milk.
I adapted the recipe from Peter Reinhart’s Bread Bakers Apprentice, he explains that Artos refers to all the Greek celebration breads and the dough is shaped depending on the celebration and certain ingredients are added for specific holidays. For Easter, mastic and mahlepi are added to the dough and it’s braided.
This bread is also known as or tsureki, it is a leaner dough than the Turkish one, which I’ll be posting next. The recipe below makes one massive loaf or two more manageable ones. I am sending this to yeastspotting.
- 1 cup liquid sourdough starter, 100% hydration
- 3 ½ cup unbleached flour
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp instant yeast (I usually don’t add commercial yeast)
- ½ -1 tbsp ground mahlepi
- 1 tsp finely mastic
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- ¼ cup sunflower seed oil or olive oil
- ¼ cup honey
- ¾ cup whole milk, lukewarm
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp water
Feed the sourdough starter about 12 hours before you mix the bread. Remove 1 cup of the starter and let it come to room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor (it’s also easy to make by hand), combine the flour, salt and yeast, if using. Using a mortar and pestle, finely grind a piece of mastic with sugar. Mastic tends to stick, so using a little bit of sugar makes it easier to grind. Add it to the flour mixture, mix for a second to combine. Add the eggs, oil, honey and the milk, mix until the dough forms.
Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth, the dough should not be sticky at this point, it should be soft but should not stick to your hands, if it’s still sticky, add a tablespoon of flour at a time.
Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel, ferment the dough until it doubles in volume, this should take about an hour and a half, or more if you used less yeast or omitted it completely.
Once the dough has risen, gently degas it and divide into 3 if making one large loaf and 6 if making 2 smaller loaves.
Shape each piece into about 12 inches ropes, braid and transfer to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Cover the shaped bread(s) with lightly oiled plastic wrap or a tea towel and let them proof until almost doubled, this will take about an hour or more if you didn’t include the commercial yeast.
Preheat the oven the 350F and prepare the egg wash by lightly beating the egg with water, brush all over the loaf making sure not to miss a spot, let it stand for 5 minutes and brush again with the egg wash, sprinkle with sliced almonds, if using and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown, has a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom and a thermometer inserted in the middle of loaf registers 210F.
Once baked, transfer the bread(s) to a wire rack and let them cool. Serve with fresh butter and jam, or a little honey.