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Vanilla Cake

Mina Pachter's Cookbook
"In Memory's Kitchen: A Legacy from the Women of Terezin"
(reprinted with permission of the publisher)


Food Editor's Notes:  Please read the notes for Omelet with Apples, the other recipe that is published with permission on this web site from In Memory's Kitchen: A Legacy from the Women of Terezin.  I would describe this cake as a hazelnut torte.  It is light and nutty, delicious plain with a cup of tea or coffee, and a wonderful treat as a full-fledged "company" dessert filled with apricot preserves and topped with whipped cream.  And, as there is no flour or other leaven in this recipe, it is perfect for a Passover dessert.  As with the Omelet with Apples, the original recipe from the book appears immediately below, followed by my interpretation with comments, so that you can recreate this cake in your own kitchen.  It is easy to make and well worth the effort – a wonderful example of a "fancy" recipe from this sad, but somehow inspiring, cookbook.

Vanilla Cake

Stir well 5 egg yolks, 20 decagrams sugar.  Grate in 1/2 vanilla bean.  Add 20 decagrams ground hazelnuts and 5 egg whites [stiffly beaten] snow.  When cool, cut cake through once or twice.  Fill with apricot jam and on top whipped cream.
My interpretation:


5 egg yolks
7 ounces sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla (I was out of whole vanilla beans)
7 ounces ground hazelnuts
5 egg whites
Apricot jam and heavy cream to whip, if desired 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 or 10-inch springform pan.  In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar.  Add the vanilla and ground hazelnuts and mix well.  In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff and then fold into the nut mixture.  Spoon the batter into the pan and bake for 30-40 minutes until browned on top and just firm to the touch.

More Notes:  I made the mistake of using a regular 10-inch round pan and found that it was difficult to remove the cake in one piece, even with the greasing.  I cooked the cake in this pan for 30 minutes and it was perfectly done.  I would suggest using a 9-inch springform pan, for easy removal, and bake the cake for a few minutes longer.  The greater height of this cake will lend itself more readily to slicing horizontally into two layers.  Then just spread the apricot jam or preserves over one cut side and place the other half on top.  When ready to serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar or top with heavy cream whipped with a tablespoon or two of sugar.  This is really delicious!

In Memory's Kitchen: A Legacy from the Women of Terezin was published by Jason Aronson Inc (New Jersey and London) in 1996.  It was edited by Cara De Silva and translated by Bianca Steiner Brown, with a foreword by Michael Berenbaum.  The book contains the relevant history of Terezin, Mina's Cookbook of dozens of recipes plain and fancy, practical notes on ingredients and amounts, and poems and letters written by Mina Pachter, along with a short biography of her life.  Click here to read more about the book and to purchase it.

Vanilla Cake


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