My Family’s Passover Walnut Cake

Author: Arthur Schwartz

Do you know the old joke about Jewish holidays? They are always late or early, never on time.

Well, it’s not exactly a joke. Because Jewish holidays occur according to the Jewish lunar calendar, which does not coincide with the internationally accepted Gregorian solar calendar, or even with the Chinese lunar calendar, they do not happen on the same dates every year.

Elsie Sonkin (that’s my grandmother) always made us tip-toe around when one of these cakes was in the oven. Slamming a door or stomping around, she thought, made her cake fall. It was such an unpredictable recipe. It was rare for it to be a complete disaster, a pancake, but it often fell somewhat. Not that that stopped us from enjoying its marvelously nutty flavor.  – AS


9 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons matzoh cake meal, plus some extra for the pan
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups shelled walnuts, finely ground, preferably in a rotary nut grater

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

 With matzoh cake meal, dust a 10 inch tube pan with a removable bottom.

 Beat the egg yolks until foamy.

 Beat in the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. 

Beat in the cake meal, and stir in the vanilla and salt. Blend thoroughly.

 Stir in the walnuts. 

Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry and fold them gently into the batter.

 Turn the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top.

 Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes, or until the cake shrinks away from the sides of the pan.

Turn pan upside down and, if it does not have legs to stand on, place it over the neck of a bottle to cool. When cool, run a knife around the edges of the cake and around the tube, and turn the cake onto a cake platter.