My son, my daughter, my brother-in-law and at least four of our young cousins were born in March or April, so there’s always an excuse for us to have a birthday cake at the seder.
This Passover birthday cake is easy to make, and goes well with chocolate-dipped strawberries. [Frances Kraft photo]
Although I enjoy preparing elaborate desserts once in a while, it makes more sense for me to use easy recipes now that my husband and I have begun hosting our 40-person family seder.A couple of years ago, I found two online recipes – one for a brownie cake, the other for a chocolate glaze – that I adapted slightly and combined to create a Passover birthday cake.
The cake ingredients are mixed in one bowl, a bonus on Passover, when many recipes call for eggs to be separated and beaten in two bowls.
Once the cake is baked and cooled, it should be cut in half into two equal rectangles and frozen until you are ready to assemble it.
Instead of using icing to write “Happy Birthday” on the cake, I inscribe a message with melted white chocolate on an upside-down chocolate bar. Prepare the chocolate bar first, so you can position it before the glaze has set.
I use a piece of wax paper, folded and taped into a cone with a small hole at the bottom, as an “icing bag” for the melted white chocolate. It’s helpful to practise writing on a piece of wax paper before attempting to write on the chocolate bar.
A toothpick is handy to remove tiny bits of extra white chocolate if the writing is not as neat as you would like.
The cake looks small, but it will feed more people than you expect, especially if you are serving other desserts as well. It’s very sweet, so large servings aren’t necessary.
2 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. oil
1 1/4 c. cake meal
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 325. In large bowl, beat eggs and sugar. Add oil. Mix in cake meal and cocoa. Pour batter into greased 9×13-inch pan. Bake at 325 for about 35 minutes. Underbake so it will be moist. Check at about 30 minutes.
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa
3 tbsp. hot water
Combine and stir well. Yield: 1/2 cup.
1 6-oz. Passover chocolate bar, plus four squares of chocolate, divided into two double squares
white chocolate or white chocolate chips
strawberry or raspberry jam or jelly
approximately 3 to 6 oz. chocolate or chocolate chips, or more, for dipping strawberries
TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:
1. Put one cake layer on a serving plate, top side up. The cake should still be frozen or semi-frozen – soft enough to cut when you put the second layer on, but frozen enough that it’s easier to glaze.
2. Place four wide strips of wax paper under each of the four sides of the cake, overlapping the corners and extending each one outward onto the plate. When you glaze the cake, the excess glaze will go onto the wax paper, and the plate will stay clean.
3. Spread cake top with jam or jelly.
4. Top with other half of cake, top side down.
5. Trim sides of cake if not even, using a long serrated knife or a sharp paring knife.
6. Gently brush off excess crumbs. Pour glaze over the cake, and use a spatula or long knife to smooth glaze along top and sides, covering the cake as completely as possible.
7. To position the chocolate bar, decide where you want it, and angle the top (the long side above the writing) upward so it will be easier to see.
8. Position a double square of chocolate under the back of the chocolate bar to support it, and then use a second double square to raise the chocolate bar a little higher. Use the glaze as a “glue” between the pieces of chocolate.
9. Once the glaze has had time to set, use a knife to separate the glaze from the bottom of the cake where it runs onto the wax paper, and carefully remove the wax paper strips.
10. At serving time, arrange chocolate-covered strawberries (prepared in advance) around the cake.