This is my signature Passover dessert, given to me by a friend's mother more than 30 years ago. Many students have since told me that their families love this so much they make it year-round.
Spanish Jews were the first to use ground nuts in place of some or all of the flour to make their tortes, especially for Passover, when flour was prohibited.
1/2 cup cake meal
1/2 cup potato starch
1 cup unsalted pareve kosher for Passover margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup unpeeled, finely ground hazelnuts, almonds, or a combination
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup kosher for Passover raspberry, strawberry or cherry jam, preferably seedless (or any preserve without corn products that is pure fruit and sugar)
- Combine the cake meal and the potato starch in a processor work bowl.
- Using the cutting blade, add the margarine and pulse on and off until the mixture is well combined.
- Add the sugar, hazelnuts or nut mixture, cinnamon, and egg yolks, and mix until smooth and well blended.
- Take 2/3 of the dough and press it over the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of an ungreased 9-inch springform pan. Leave a 1-inch-wide rim of dough around the top.
- Spread with 1/2 cup or more of raspberry jam.
- Gently squeeze egg-sized balls of remaining dough between your fingertips over the top of the jam to simulate weaving ropes for the lattice top. This dough cannot easily be handled, but don't worry because the ropes don't have to be perfect, as they become smooth during baking.
- Fasten the dough rope to the rim of dough, and smooth it out with your fingertip, pressing lightly.
- Beat the egg whites slightly and brush over the top of the lattice. As you brush, the ropes will get smoother and more uniform.
- Place the springform pan on a cookie sheet that has very low sides and bake at 325°F for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Partly cool before removing the rim of the pan. Do not attempt to remove the base of the pan. Serve the cake from the base.
- Springform pans often leak butter during baking, so always place the filled pan on a rimmed cookie sheet to avoid burnt oil spills on the bottom of your oven.
- When grinding nuts in a food processor, always pulse the mixture on and off rather than just turning the machine on. This will prevent nut butter from forming on the bottom of the bowl and your nuts will be more uniform in size.
- This recipe should be made with preserves or jams, not jelly, so that its volume will remain intact after baking.
- Nuts do not have to be pre-roasted if they are contained in pastry that is baked for over 40 minutes.
- The recipe can be increased 1 1/2 times to cover a 13 × 9-inch pan, which can be cut into 2-inch squares.
- If you are planning to make more than one torte and/or want to freeze it after baking, tightly line the base of the springform pan with aluminum foil. Freeze the torte in the pan, remove the cake with the foil attached, and put it back in the freezer in a freezer bag. You must place the frozen cake back on the springform base or directly on the serving plate while still frozen. This cake is delicate.