Basic Passover Sponge Cake

Prep Time
50 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
3 cakes

1 basic sponge cake, 3 amazing variations.  This recipe yields 3 (9-inch) round cakes, so you can make an assortment of cakes for Pesach in one shot. 

Photography by Baila Gluck

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  • 12 eggs, separated
  • 1¾ cups sugar
  • ½ tsp. grated lemon rind (optional)
  • ½ cup Orange Juice
  • 1¼ cup almond meal (ground almonds) or 1 cup matzo cake meal
  • ¾ cup potato starch
  • Pinch of salt

Toasted Almond & Chocolate Ganache Layer Cake Variation

  • 2 Almond Sponge Cakes (use the 3rd for the apple variation)
  • 20 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1½ cups strong, brewed hot coffee
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
  • 6 oz. sliced almonds

Apple Cake Variation

  • 1 Almond Cake (use the other 2 for the ganache variation)
  • 2 apples – cored, peeled and sliced.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 3 (9-inch) round cake pans. Cut 3 (9-inch) circles of parchment paper and line bottoms of pans; set aside.
  2. Place egg yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Using standing mixer or electric beaters, beat on medium-high speed until the mixture becomes thick and pale yellow in color. Add the lemon rind and orange juice, mixing until well blended. Add the almond meal and potato starch to the egg yolk mixture, beating until well blended and mixture is smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a separate, large, dry mixing bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form. Gently fold half of the egg whites into the yolk mixture. When the egg whites are incorporated, repeat with the remaining egg whites.* Pour batter into prepared baking pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when testing.
  4. Toasted Almond & Chocolate Ganache Layer Cake.
    • To prepare Chocolate Ganache: Place hot coffee and chopped chocolate in a medium mixing bowl and set over a saucepan filled halfway with simmering water over medium-low heat. Whisk together until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove bowl from saucepan. Remove 1-2 tablespoons of chocolate mixture and gently mix with yolks in a small bowl to temper; then pour tempered eggs into the chocolate mixture. Add vanilla and use electric beaters to beat until ganache is thick and cool, about 5 minutes.
    • To toast almonds: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until just turning golden color.
    • Assembly: Use a plastic knife to loosen edges of sponge cakes. Carefully remove cakes by inverting over a dinner plate; then gently peel off parchment paper. Using a long serrated knife (like a bread knife) with a sawing motion, carefully start cutting each cake horizontally into 2 even cake layers. The easiest way to do this is evenly is by sawing a little, then rotating the cake, then sawing a little more, continuing until the knife has gone the whole way around and cut through to form 2 layers.
    • Repeat with the second cake.
    • Place 1st layer on a cake platter or round. Pour about ¼ cup ganache over cake layer, using a spatula to spread evenly if needed. Sprinkle with a handful of toasted almonds. Cover with 2nd cake layer. Repeat with ganache and almonds and remaining cake layers. To finish, pour ganache over top and sides of cake (do not frost – let chocolate drip down sides). Sprinkle remaining toasted almonds over top of the cake. Refrigerate and chill until serving time.

Apple Cake Variation

  1. Place half of the cake batter in the cake pan and place a layer of sliced apples over the batter, then cover with remaining batter.
  2. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.