Easter in the Hebrew tradition

The holiday commonly known as Easter, in spite of obvious differences, derives from the Jewish festivity the Torah calls  “Pesach”, also known as “Passover”, an eight days-long celebration of the ancient Israelites liberation from Egyptian bondage and their subsequent exodus.

The Christian tradition of Easter ties this period to the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, while Jewish tradition commemorates the Biblical period of the Exodus, during which the Jews marked their doors so the spirit of God would pass over their homes (hence the name “Passover”) and spare their first born during the last of the ten plagues inflicted upon the Egyptians.

Yiddish tradition requires food to be stored and prepared according to very strict dietary laws. Have you ever heard of kosher food or kosher cuisine? The word kosher literally means “fitting” or, “appropriate”, meaning they conform and abide by the rigid food handling and preparation laws of the ancient Israelites and are hence  “fit for consumption”.  Jewish people consider meals sacred rituals that must be prepared and consumed according to the specific sanitation and behavioural  rules of hebraic tradition, such as the one by which meat and dairy products should not be served at the same meal, cooked or served with the same utensils, or even stored together.

Since during Pesach  foods containing yeast are forbidden,  a brittle, unlevened bread known as matzo is served in Jewish homes instead. Moreover, bitter vegetables and herbs, hard boiled eggs (which symbolize life’s continuity) and wine should take precedence over any other food and beverage. This ancient religious holiday also foresees a very thorough cleaning of one’s home: it truly covers all basis.  Kosher cuisine is renown for its excellent pastries,  and during Passover yeast-free almond cake is an all-time favourite.

Bring a taste of Passover to your table with this scrumptious, yet simple, almond cake recipie. Beg your pardon? Yes, of course it’s yeast-free!

Easter Pesah Cake – Jewish Passover Almond Cake

Ingredients

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup shelled almonds
  • 8 tbs cane sugar
  • 1 lemon (3 Tbs Limmi lemon juice)
  • 2 Tbs matzo flour (a.k.a. white kosher flour)
  • salt to taste

Preparation

Pre-heat the oven at 180°F. Finely chop the almonds and mix them with a little bit of sugar. Separate the eggs into two different bows, beat the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar, grated lemon peel and its juice (or 3 Tbs Limmi lemon juice) and set aside.  Whip the egg whites till stiff, then place in the refrigerator so they don’t deflate.  Add the flour, and almonds to the egg yolks and gently fold in the egg whites with a spatula (use a top to bottom motion center to side folding motion, turning the bowl after each stroke) till everything is well blended. Place the cream in a cake pan and bake for 40/45 minutes. Garnish with chopped almonds, cool and enjoy!

And for a Christian Easter treat….check out this classic colomba pasquale.

Happy Easter!!!