Recipe Box: Devil’s Food Cake that Isn’t a Sin on Passover

This Passover adaptation of my favorite devil's food cake from my book Kitchen Sense is pretty delicious.

When I was a kid there was no such thing as kosher for Passover baking soda and baking powder. Quite the contrary, any leavening beyond the magical power of egg whites was strictly forbidden. But times change. And so do rabbinical proscriptions. Today there are legal leavenings that open a whole new world of pesadich desserts.

Last night, on a whim, I attempted a Passover-approved version of my favorite devil’s food cake, substituting matzo cake meal and potato starch for the flour. It turned out better than fine, it was delicious. Miles away from boxed brownie mixes. Even my underbaking the cake slightly didn’t diminish the results, and instead gave it a pleasant molten quality that some top chefs strive for. Here’s the recipe for all the chocolate cake starved observant Jews out there. My partner, Nate, can’t be the only one!

Pesadich Devil’s Food Cake (with a pareve variation)
Adapted from Kitchen Sense by Mitchell DavisMakes one 9-inch round cake

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons matzo cake meal

1/4 cup potato starch

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon kosher for Passover baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher for Passover baking powder

1 cup sugar

Pinch salt

1 cup buttermilk or vanilla-flavored soy milk (to make the cake pareve)

1/2 cup strong, cold coffee or espresso

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch round pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

In large bowl, combine the cake meal, potato starch, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Whisk to mix. In a small bowl or large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, egg, and vanilla and beat until blended. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until mixed. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the cake has risen, the top has cracked a little, and the center springs back to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack. Run a knife around the pan and invert on a rack to cool complete. Serve as is, with a dollop of whipped cream, or frost, as desired.

Note, to make a double layer cake or a 9-by-13-inch cake, simply double the recipe.


1 Comment

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One response to “Recipe Box: Devil’s Food Cake that Isn’t a Sin on Passover

  1. jennifer

    just to clarify your comment about leavenings on passover. There may not have always been Kosher for Passover certified baking powder and soda when we were kids, but that is not because the Rabbis have “changed” their minds’ in fact, these items are inherently kosher for passover. (baking soda needs no supervision) They just did not have a market if for it years back because our recipes traditionally used egg whites (readily available) as the natural leavening on passover. The prohibition of eating leavened foods on passover has to do with flour and water and /or yeast. the combining of these ingredients coupled with time which allows it to rise, that is the prohibition. Since our passover cakes do not use flour; no matter what leavening agent we add (passover approved) we would never run into the prohibition of passover of eating “leavened bread”. It is interesting to note, that Matza itself is none other that flour and water. (although it is unleavened there is no yeast) however the only real reason it is kosher for passover is that it is speedily made in the prescribed 18 minutes. If it were to rest or take longer than that amt. of time, from start to finish, although it looks and feels and tastes like matza, it would be considered. “leavened bread.”

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