When I posted my Spiced Apple Cake last year for Passover, I expressed my deepest desire to be invited to a Passover seder. (To get in the right mood, I did write the post while sampling bitter herbs.) The response was overwhelming–I received invites from all over the twitterverse. Though most of them were from far away places, I appreciated each offer.
As this year’s Passover soon approaches, this goy with a yarmulke-to-go still has no local invitation to feast over pot roast, kosher wine, and unleavened desserts. All I want is a little . . . Tradition!. Oy, I’ll probably end up at the half-emptied gym again amongst the goyim and lapsed Jews.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about purchasing extra eggs from the Farmer’s Market. They come in handy on this occasion. Because of the lack of leavening agents in Passover desserts, eggs are the go-to ingredient for my recipes. This year, I decided to add a little bit of my Asian heritage to the dessert — the aroma of ginger and five spice. May this dessert will inspire a new fusion cuisine — HebrAsian.
Maybe if I kvetch a bit more, I’ll be accepted into the home of the chosen people for a nosh. I’m not a schlimazel. Look, I can do it: Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam . . .
Almond Pear-Blueberry Cake
Recipe adapted from Arthur Schwartz
yield: one 8-inch cake
5 medium Anjou pears, about 2-1/4 pounds
1/3 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup crystalized ginger, finely chopped
1/4 cup brandy
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest, about 1 lemon, freshly grated
3/4 cup slivered almonds, chopped and toasted
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup matzo cake meal
1/4 cup almond flour or almond meal
1/4 sliced almonds (topping)
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch-round by 3-inch-high straight-sided cake pans with nonstick cooking spray; line bottom with parchment rounds and spray paper round, set aside
2. Combine blueberries, crystalized ginger and brandy in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave at 50% power for 90 seconds. Remove bowl from microwave and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Drained and set aside.
3. Stir butter, oil and fresh ginger in a separate measuring cup. Set aside.
4. Add sugar and lemon zest to a small bowl, rub with fingers until fully incorporated.
5. Combine 3/4 cup of lemon/sugar mixture, chopped almonds, ground ginger, and five spice in a medium bowl; set aside.
6.. Peeled, cored and halved the pears, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
7. Add eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat on medium-high speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat in remaining 3/4 cup lemon/sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, until mixture is thick and foamy, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, slowly pour in oil mixture until combined. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in matzo cake meal and almond flour with a spatula quickly until fully incorporated.
8. Pour a third of the batter into prepared cake pan. Sprinkle over a third of the almond mixture, then a third of pear slices, and follow by a third of blueberry/ginger mixture. Repeat until you finish all three layers. Sprinkle sliced almonds over top of cake.
9. Transfer cake to oven and bake until the sides of the cake pull away from the baking dish very slightly and topping begins to caramelize, about 75-90 minutes.
10. Remove cake from oven, and rest on rack for 30 minutes. Place a piece of parchment on top and press down lightly to compress the cake. Leave parchment on for 5 minutes, place plate on top of cake and invert to release it from cake pan. Place a serving platter on the bottom of the cake and re-invert, so the cake is right-side-up. Let cool completely, about 1 hour.
1. If your cake pan is 2-inch high, you can make a parchment collar.
2. If you practice a strict Kosher diet. omit butter and increase the canola oil to 2/3 cup.
3. Brandy can be substitute with kosher wine or orange juice.
4. Cake can be covered tightly with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, as the flavor improves with age.