Lemon Sponge Cake with Candied Citrus

Passover brings the same challenge each year – especially for the baker. That is, how to make an array of delicious and unique desserts – without the use of flour (or any other leavening ingredients, for that matter). This task is additionally complicated by the fact that dairy is often off-limits too.

So when I find a recipe that works – and that my family agrees is a “keeper” – I tend to bring it back year after year. And this sponge cake is no exception. Moist and deeply flavorful, I am a big fan of this classic Passover dessert. It comes out consistently delicious and keeps for days, too.

citrus sponge cake 1But – aside from the same-old dusting of powdered sugar (the kosher-for-Passover kind, of course!), it lacked that “wow” factor. So a few years ago I candied some orange and lemon slices and placed them on top – for a pretty presentation that looked lovely on our table.

Making candied citrus slices is super easy – and can provide a quick garnish for any dessert!

citrus sponge cake 4Note: The recipe for the sponge cake is inspired by this recipe from Epicurious

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For the cake:

potato starch (for dusting cake pan)

2 tsp vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray

1/2 cup matzah cake meal

3/4 cup potato starch

8 extra-large eggs, separated, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup orange juice

juice of 1 large lemon

1 tsp each freshly grated orange and lemon zest

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)

1/4 tsp salt

For the candied citrus slices:

1 large orange, cut into 1/8” thick slices

1 large lemon (or 2 small), cut into 1/8” thick slices

1-2 cups sugar


Make the cake: Pre-heat oven to 350. Grease a 9” springform pan with the oil or cooking spray; dust with potato starch.

Beat the egg yolks in an electric mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes. Slowly add the sugar and beat for 3 more minutes.

Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the juices and zests, followed by both extracts. With mixer turned off, sift the cake meal and potato starch over the top. Mix till just blended and transfer batter to a large bowl. Clean and dry the mixer bowl.

Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites till foamy. Add the salt and beat till the whites hold glossy peaks. Gently fold into the cake batter and pour into your prepared pan.

Bake till a tester comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack, then loosen the sides to let cool completely.

While cake is baking, prepare the citrus slices: place slices in a saucepan with enough equal parts sugar and water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook till sugar dissolves. Simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes. Turn off heat and let slices cool in the syrup. Transfer to a wire rack set over a baking sheet to dry. Arrange slices atop cake just prior to serving.

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