This beautiful, moist, dairy-free cake dates back to the Golden Age in Spain and is probably of Moorish origins. It’s known as a plava by Ashkenazim, pan d’España by Moroccan Jews, and pan di Spagna by Italian ones. All the recipes are virtually identical. This particular recipe was given to me by Natanya Eskin, a member of the Monday Morning Cooking Club. It is her grandmother’s and is an absolutely wonderful cake... proving that good baking is timeless.
- light olive oil, to grease
- 75 g potato flour
- 65 g matzo superfine flour (see Baker’s tips)
- 150 g caster sugar, plus 50 g extra
- 5 eggs, at room temperature, separated
- 50 ml extra light olive oil
- 50 ml strained fresh orange juice
- 1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
- 1 tsp finely grated orange rind
- pinch of salt
- icing sugar, to dust
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat oven to 160°C. Grease a 2-litre (8 cup) capacity fluted ring tin with olive oil.
Sieve the potato flour, matzo flour and caster sugar into a large bowl and mix well. Make a well in the center. In a large bowl, mix together the egg yolks, oil, orange juice and the lemon and orange rind. Add to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just smooth and a thick paste forms.
Use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk the egg whites and salt in a large clean dry bowl on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the extra caster sugar a tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition until thick and glossy. Add a third of the egg white mixture to the egg yolk mixture and use a large metal spoon or spatula to fold together until just combined. Add the remaining egg white mixture and fold until just combined.
Spoon the mixture into the greased tin and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface. Gently tap the tin on the bench three times to get rid of any large air bubbles. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until firm to a gentle touch and a skewer comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and stand for 3 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool. Serve dusted with icing sugar.
• Matzo Superfine flour is Kosher flour made from Matzo meal. It is sometimes referred to in recipes as cake meal or fine matzo meal and has a similar consistency to wheat flour. It is available from specialty Jewish food stores and selected delicatessens and supermarkets in the Kosher food section.
• This sponge will keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Recipe from Monday Morning Cooking Club. Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Kristine Duran-Thiessen. Food preparation by Tina McLeish.
For more recipes, view our online column, Bakeproof: Sponge cake.