Let Them Eat Cake (But Never Mine!)

A few weeks before Passover, I found myself in the grocery store ogling the enormous display of foods marked ‘Kosher for Passover’. I couldn't believe it! There were noodles and pie crust shells, candies and cookies of all sorts as well as a variety of cake mixes, all perfectly legitimate for use during the holiday.

I couldn’t help thinking back to what we were forced to eat during Pesach when I was growing up. Matzo, matzo and more matzo To break the monotony, my bubbie baked a mile high sponge cake every other day of the holiday. Light and fluffy, I can still taste how moist and delicious they were. Never do I remember a failure coming from her ancient oven.

From my own modern one some 25 years later, however, I was to extract one failure after another. A sponge cake which was 5 or 6 inches high when taken from the oven, resembled a medium high pancake within 5 minutes. Occasionally, the outside edge remained a few inches higher than the inside which caused some insensitive members of my family to giggle. They didn’t mind eating it, however, as long as I covered it with strawberries and whipped cream. I guess to them, any cake was better than no cake at all.

Through the years, many people told me their secrets of how to make the perfect cake. "Eggs at room temperature." " Beat the whites until you could turn the bowl upside down and they wouldn’t budge." "Cut down on the baking time." "Add baking time." Some even gave me their secret family recipes. But alas, nothing worked! After 13 years of failures, I finally gave up. Never again, I vowed, would I attempt to make another Passover sponge cake. Not even from a cake mix.

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