At sundown next Friday, April 3, Dan Adler will celebrate the beginning of Passover with family and friends, having prepared his mother’s Passover apple cake recipe with his granddaughter, 9-year-old Marissa McLain.
What does the feast of Passover mean to you? Passover is about a journey and marking the renewal of life. It celebrates the ancient Jews’ liberation from Egyptian slavery.
As Jews, we must never forget what happened when our ancestors left Egypt in haste after being freed from slavery. That is why we do not eat any food with flour or leavening during Passover, because when the Jews left in a hurry, they didn’t have time to allow their bread to rise.
As three generations in our family gather to celebrate Passover, we are reminded that we would not be here without our ancestors.
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Is that why you continue the tradition of making your mother, Lois Adler’s, Passover Apple Cake recipe with your granddaughter, Marissa? It wouldn’t be Passover without my mother’s apple cake, which resembles a sponge cake. Instead of using flour, it requires potato starch and cake meal, which is very finely ground matzo meal.
My mother would bake this cake with my daughter, Michelle (Wexler), who is Marissa’s mother. It’s important that I now make this with my granddaughter, Marissa, to keep the tradition and the memory of my mother alive. We even bake the cake in the pan my mother used.
What is the significance of the Seder plate during the first night of Passover? The Seder plate contains all the symbols of the Passover Seder and aids the retelling of the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt.
The Passover Seder plate usually has Charoset, a mixture of apples, walnuts and sweet wine representing the mortar the enslaved Jews used to assemble the pyramids; Karpas, parsley representing spring; Beitzah, a roasted, hard-boiled egg symbolizing the temple sacrifice and the continuing cycle of life; Maror, bitter herbs and horseradish representing the bitterness of slavery; and Zeroah, a lamb’s shankbone symbolizing the ancient Passover sacrifice.
When it comes to Jewish traditions, can you attempt to explain the food-family connection? Preparing family recipes is a tangible way to continue family traditions and, literally, a wonderful taste of your heritage. Making this family recipe with Marissa is the ultimate in comfort food.
My mother, who passed away when Marissa was a year old in 2006, found joy in watching the people she loved enjoy the food she prepared for them. Preparing recipes from the generation that has come before me is a way of keeping the memories of them alive. The Jews have an expression: “L’dor va’dor,” which literally means, “from generation to generation.”
Mary G. Pepitone is a nationally syndicated freelance writer who lives in Leawood. E-mail her firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate a cook.
Occupation: Owner of a digital printing consulting company.
Special cooking interest: Passing down food traditions to future generations.
Family: Adler and his wife, Jeannie, have a blended family of four children and three grandchildren, including Marissa McLain. “I love to bake with my Papa (Dan Adler),” she says. “I think it’s cool that this recipe has been passed down from my great-grandmother to me.”
Interesting fact: Also known as Pesach, Passover is an eight-day Jewish festival of freedom (seven days in Israel) remembering when Moses led ancient Jews out of slavery in Egypt. Passover refers to death “passing over” Jewish households when the firstborns in Egypt were struck dead, as described in Exodus, the second book of the Torah or Bible.
Lois Adler’s Passover Apple Cake
Makes 8 to 10 servings
Passover ingredients can be found in most kosher sections of local grocery stores.
1/2 cup kosher for Passover cake meal
1/2 cup kosher for Passover potato starch
9 eggs, separated
1 1/3 cup sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Jonathan apple, peeled, cored and grated
1 orange, zested
1/4 cup kosher for Passover wine
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 (16-ounce) package frozen sweetened strawberries, defrosted
1 (16-ounce) package fresh strawberries, cleaned and macerated with 1/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Sift cake meal and potato starch together 3 times in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whip egg whites until frothy, using a stand electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Add 2/3 cup sugar and salt to egg whites and continue to whip until stiff peaks form.
Carefully transfer whipped egg whites to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
In the original bowl used to beat egg whites, whisk egg yolks, using the stand mixer, with remaining 2/3 cup sugar until dissolved.
Slowly incorporate sifted ingredients, apple, orange zest and wine into egg yolk mixture. After ingredients are well combined, stir in walnuts.
Slowly incorporate whipped egg whites into egg yolk mixture by hand using a balloon whisk. Transfer batter to a round, angel food tube pan.
Bake for about 11/2 hours, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Remove from oven and immediately invert pan until cake has completely cooled. Loosen edges of cake from pan using a knife and turn out onto serving plate.
Using a serrated knife, cut cake and place on dessert plates. Garnish with sweetened strawberries and serve immediately.
Per serving, based on 8: 358 calories (25 percent from fat), 10 grams total fat (2 grams saturated), 239 milligrams cholesterol, 58 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams protein, 117 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.