I am most decidedly not the type of girl that denies herself anything. Be it clothes, food, kitchen gear, or, ahem, a nice bottle of wine. I am the type of girl that likes to stick to a routine, and most especially at breakfast. I am at my most, let’s just call it demanding, first thing in the morning. Some may call it cranky, but not too near to me, or they’ll see just how cranky I can be before 10 am!
For breakfast, I have always been, and will always be, a toast person. Sometimes with avocado, sometimes with smoked salmon. An occasional tomato or cheese. Must be thinly sliced, have lots of butter, and come from a well made loaf.
And so on to the denial of my favourite breakfast. Sigh. No bread. Or pasta or cakes etc….but it is the bread that really makes me suffer. I find it rather annoying how many people tell me they like matza. I think if you could only have matza, you would rapidly come to a different conclusion. (Oh, and it is terrible on the guts) The only saving grace is that potatoes are still on the menu, otherwise their may just be a mutiny here!
There is a positive aspect to Passover cooking. Firstly, the Seder meal is a wonderful experience, and such a marker of how time flies. I have watched all the youngers at the table grow and change, including my own little ratbags. My contribution, year on year, is pudding. For the last few years I have made a divine matza fritter, but the rellies are all a bit sick of them, so I delved into the books….first stop, the goddess herself, Nigella.
I really do pimp every recipe I go near, but Nigella is the exception. I have only very slightly changed her Pomegranate Jewel Cake, substituting pomegranate molasses for juice and adding in a bit more zest. I am a zesty kind of girl.
Pomegranate Jewel Cake – ‘Feast’ Nigella Lawson (Rosh Hashanah section)
300g caster sugar
300g ground almonds
zest of 2 lemons
zest of 2 oranges
Pomegranate and pomegranate molasses to serve
Grease and line a 23cm springform pan and pop the oven onto 180.
Separate the eggs, putting the whites into a good size bowl, and the yolks in another biggish bowl as this is where the folding and mixing will happen.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they are stiff, but not totally dry. It takes me about 10 minutes with my little hand held electric number. Whisk in 100g of the sugar and then pop then off to the side.
Add the rest of the sugar, and the zests to the yolks and then beat until light and airy. I used a balloon whisk for about 5 minutes. It’s thick and rather gloopy, and folding in a good dollop of the whites makes it easier to manage. Now start folding the whites into the yolk mixture, about a third at a time. Be light handed so as not to knock the air out of the batter, but don’t be a wimp about it either.
Pour into the tin and pop into the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, checking it regularly after 25 as it burns quickly because of the high sugar content. If the cake is browning nicely, but still wobbly in the middle, pop a bit of foil on top.
As soon as you take the cake out of the oven, pour over some slightly watered down pomegranate molasses so it seeps down into the cake. You can also use the juice of one pomegranate, but I prefer the molasses as it adds a slightly smokey flavour to the cake.
Cool totally before removing from the tin, and then cover with the pomegranate seeds.
Serve with fruit salad and ice cream, a la Shapir Seder.
(A LITTLE NOTE: after posting this, and tweeting the picture, “Star of our Seder”, The Goddess herself, Ms. Lawson sent me a PM: ‘So pleased.’ TRUE FREAKING STORY!)
I did not, however, stop with the above (post mauling). I have a terrible tendency to go a smidge overboard. So, I also brought some Matza ‘Crack’ along. I make a double batch at the beginning of Passover partially to use up some matza, and partially to try and convince myself that it is not one of the most foul foodstuffs available.
The recipe comes from David Lebovitz, who is a god of the kitchen.
4 to 6 sheets matza
1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup (215g) firmly-packed light brown sugar
big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (160g) plain chocolate chips
Line a rimmed baking tray with foil, making sure the foil goes up and over the edges. Cover the foil with a sheet of baking parchment.
Preheat the oven to 190.
Line the bottom of the sheet with matza, breaking extra pieces as necessary to fill in any spaces.
In a good sized, heavy duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the mixture is beginning to boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the salt and vanilla, and pour over matza, spread evenly.
Put the pan in the tray and reduce the heat to 175. Bake for 15 minutes. As it bakes, it will bubble up but keep an eyeball on it to make sure it’s not burning. If it starts to get too dark in places, remove from oven and reduce the heat to 160C before popping back in to finish off.
Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with an offset spatula. I love this bit as it is terribly cathartic. Love that spreading!
Top off with a liberal sprinkling of Maldon salt flakes.
Cool it completely and break up it up to whatever size you fancy. We are greedy, so they are big chunks in our house! Keep in a container for up to a week, so really most of the torturous bread-less event.
Enjoy….the countdown is on! I am already looking forward to making a divine potato and asparagus pie next week 😉
(Note: I love the story of the Exodus, the remembrance of our time as slaves, and the appreciation of our freedom. It’s just the matza I hate! )