Food for thought

It tastes just like Manischewitz

The essence of oranges and nuts in an airy, spice-filled torte

Shira Buzelan, an olah from Montreal, lives in Maale Adumim with her husband and five children. Combining her love of Israel and passion for food, Shira strives to incorporate locally grown and produced foods in her cooking style, highlighting the bounty of the land.

A slice of orange and nut torte; it's got the feel of Manischewitz (photo credit: Andrea Brownstein/Photoli Photography)
A slice of orange and nut torte; it's got the feel of Manischewitz (photo credit: Andrea Brownstein/Photoli Photography)

My Bubbie, may she rest in peace, was the Passover cake baker in our family. Each year we would wait for my mom to come home from our grandmother’s apartment with our baked treats: her lemon sponge, wine and nut and chocolate chiffon cakes. My sisters and I usually ended up fighting over these sky-high marvels, measuring out who got more of each cake and lamenting their disappearance as the holiday progressed.

In my young adulthood, I noticed that the chocolate chiffon, a personal favorite, stopped making an appearance. It seemed my grandmother had taken it off the menu. I was determined to have it reinstated. I harassed my mother until she finally told me why the Passover chocolate chiffon cake was no longer gracing our table: Manischewitz had stopped making the mix. Needless to say, I was shocked to my very core.

Now I’m in charge of Passover baking for our seder and holiday get-togethers. As something of a food purist, I tend to shy away from cake meal and potato starch in my Passover cooking, opting to create confections using basics such as eggs, chocolate, spices, nuts and fruits, although I still make Bubbie’s wine and nut cake yearly.

But given that I firmly believe every good meal deserves a great finish, even on Passover, I’ve come with a repertoire of easy, delicious and ingredient-pure desserts that will make everyone happy. This particular orange and nut torte relies on whole fresh oranges and ground nuts, as well as warm spices such as cardamom and cinnamon to add depth of flavor. The oils released from the orange peel coupled with the ground nuts eliminate the need for added fats, and they are not missed in this uniquely flavored Passover treat.

Orange and Nut Tort

  • 2 large oranges scrubbed clean
  • ¾ cup brown sugar packed
  • 1¼ cups ground nuts (almonds or walnuts or a combination of the two)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher-for-Passover baking powder
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 4 large eggs
  1. The night before baking, boil the scrubbed oranges in a large pot for 30 minutes. Drain and repeat. Leave to cool overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F/170°C.
  3. Grease a springform pan and set aside.
  4. Cut oranges in segments, remove any blemishes and pits. Put the segments in the bowl of a food processor and blend to a fine purée. Add the nuts, sugar, baking powder, and spices.
  5. Using a mixer, beat the eggs until pale and thick. Using a spatula, gently fold the orange meal into the eggs, being careful not to overmix. Pour into prepared pan and bake 40 minutes.
  6. Let cool 20 minutes with the oven door open. Remove from oven and cool completely before removing springform sides.

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