This is not a classic Passover Almond cake with whipped up egg whites for leavening and ground nuts in place of flour. This recipe is a Passover version of a Sephardic, Turkish dessert. The cake is very dense and moist because after you bake it you pour honey lemon syrup over the whole cake. The syrup soon sinks into the pre cut diamond shaped pieces leaving the cake moist. It s best served with coffee or tea. There are many versions of this cake and for this one I was inspired by a recipe published in Cooking the Sephardic Way, published in 1971 by the sisterhood of Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel, in Los Angeles. My copy is so old, the pages are yellowed and have many food spots on them. Most of the recipes are from my Nona’s generation from the women who came to the United States in the early 1900’s from Turkey and Rhodes. Thank god someone had the vision to record all of them.
1 cup matzo meal
1 cup matzo cake meal
1 cup finely chopped almonds, blanched or regular
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
about 20-25 whole almonds for decoration
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup water
Preheat the oven to 375°. Mix all the cake ingredients in a bowl. Pat the dough into a 9-10 inch round baking dish or an 8 X 8 baking dish. Using a sharp knife, cut diamond shaped serving size pieces into the cake. Place a whole almond on to each piece. Place the cake in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden in color.
While the cake is baking, combine all the syrup ingredients in a saucepan. Bring the syrup to a boil and let it boil on low heat until it reaches 210°. Check the syrup temperature with a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer just look for the syrup to start thickening. The boiling syrup bubbles will still be large and if you take a tiny bit with a spoon the syrup will be thready in a glass of water.
When the cake is done baking, remove it from the oven. Go over your cuts with a sharp knife being sure to cut all the way through this time and then pour the syrup over the warm cake. The cake may take a couple of hours to absorb the syrup.