Tuesday, March 31, 2009

To-Die-For Passover Banana Nut Cake, and a Review of A Kosher Gluten-Free Passover Cookbook

I couldn't have been more excited when I received a copy of Tamar Ansh's new cookbook from Targum Press. They were kind enough to ship me Pesach - Anything's Possible: Over 450 Non-Gebrochts, Gluten-Free & Wheat Free Recipes because they know this blog focuses on cuisine that is both kosher and gluten-free. This big, thick, hardcover book is the first widely distributed cookbook that I've seen that has advertised itself directly to the gluten-free community as well as to any Jewish cook looking for Passover fare. Unlike much Passover cooking, all of the recipes are gluten-free and non-gebrokts, meaning the book does not include recipes such as matzo balls or matzo meal cakes which involve exposing matzo to water. Some Ashkenazi Jews, mostly Hasidim, observe a tradition of only eating dry matzo during Pesach so their other Pesach food is all gluten-free.

Pesach - Anything's Possible is a kosher gluten-free cookbook full of beautiful, glossy full-color photographs. One of my pet peeves is cookbooks without photographs - And this cookbook does not disappoint in that department! It even has step-by-step instructional photos for some of the recipes. I don't like reviewing cookbooks without trying a recipe. I never give positive reviews to books or products unless I feel like they deserve it. So I chose a recipe to make for last shabbos: Banana Nut Cake.

Those who tried the cake could not believe what they were tasting - It was perfectly moist, even the next day. It was golden brown on top, with no burned spots. It had a tender, fine crumb. It wasn't crumbly, but instead held together quite well. It had just the right amount of sweetness, just the right amount of banana flavor, and the perfect amount of nuttiness. It had a consistency more like a rich, moist, fluffy cake than the wetter, more dense traditional banana bread. I am not exaggerating when I say this was one of the best gluten-free cakes I have ever eaten! Not the best Passover cake, or the best pareve cake, or the best banana bread... But one of the best cakes, period. If you make this for friends or family they won't believe it's gluten-free, let alone a pareve Pesach cake. Pareve (dairy-free) Pesach cakes are notorious for being dry. This cake puts them all to shame.

Other recipes in the book include Orange Sponge Cake, "Breaded" Cutlets, Chicken Blintzes, Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, Mexican Pepper Bake, Creamsicle Roll, Best Gefilte Fish Ever, Crepes, Butternut Squash Kugel, Sweet Potato Puffs, Shepherd's Pie, Zucchini Cheese Potato Latkes, Kneidlach, Lukshen (noodles) and more... 350 recipes in total.

Targum Press has been kind enough to give me permission to post the fabulous Banana Cake recipe here on my blog, so that my readers can enjoy this recipe for Passover ... or any time. To order the cookbook click here.


from "Pesach - Anything's Possible" by Tamar Ansh
Posted with permission from Targum Press.

[Gluten-Free / Pareve / Dairy-Free / Soy-Free ]

10 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups sugar
3-4 ripe bananas*
3/4 cup coarsely ground walnuts or pecans**
3/4 cup potato starch

Preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C.

Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. In a bowl, beat the yolks together with the sugar, bananas, nuts and potato starch. Carefully fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture until it is well blended. Pour the batter into a greased tube pan***. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the edges start to spring away slightly from the side of the pan. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cook completely. Remove the cake from the pan. If it seems moist to you, let it sit uncovered for an hour or so before you wrap it up.

*I used 4 ripe bananas that had been frozen in their skins. I defrosted them and then they slid right out of their skins, already soft enough to blended in with the batter.

**I actually used 1/2 cup walnut meal (finely ground walnuts) and about 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts, and I'll probably do that again next time I make this recipe

***I recommend using a silicone pan if you have one. I didn't have a tube pan so I used an 8x8 silicone brownie pan and a standard-sized tin bread ban.

Other books by Targum Press include:

The Kids Kosher Cookbook

Classic Kosher Cooking: Simply Delicious

Guidelines to Candlelighting and Separating Challah

Guidelines to Pesach


Recipe man said...

great post! looks yum
happy passover


Anonymous said...

Confession: I was so excited, I went and ordered the book before I finished reading your post. :-)

Chag Sameach!


Anonymous said...

I'm going to try that recipe next week.The only thing is that it seems like alot of sugar!Do you think I could reduce the amount to one cup or 3/4 cup of sugar?I was also thinking of honey,but that has a tendency to burn,as you probably know.Hope to hear back.
Thanks for the post,
Chag Sameach!

ByTheBay said...

Anonymous: I usually try to avoid using refined sugar in my baking, but Pesach is an exception because it is very hard to make a kosher l'pesach, moist, pareve cake without white sugar. I would not mess with this recipe - Of course you can try if you like, but sugar is part of how it gets and keeps its structure, its fluffiness and its moisture. Avoid honey as it will make this cake burn quite badly. If you reduce sugar you may need to increase potato starch and/or add some kosher l'pesach baking powder. If you try it, let me know how it turns out! Chag sameach!

Anonymous said...

I was able to find organic evaporated cane juice (kosher for Passover) so I'm going to try that-still "sugar" (though there are disagreements about that) but much less refined than white,which I feel better about.I will definitely let you know how it turns out.I really enjoy reading your blog by the way.I stumbled across it when I was looking for gluten free hamentashen recipes.I did try the one you have posted-with modifications.They turned out really well!I was satisfied with the results,but know how I would change it next time.One is just constantly learning from one cooking/baking experiment to the next,no? ;)
Have a great holiday

Penny said...

thanks so much for posting a great review. i liked her first non-gebrochts cookbook and have been eying this one. now I'm hungry for some banana nut cake. ;)

guitarizma said...

The Banana nut cake sounds delicious, YUMMY!

Just wanted to congratulate you on setting up such a wonderful blog. Was wondering if you'd like your readers to know about Celiac disease - the very very reason behind a gluten free diet.

Check out a great post on Celiac disease and maybe we can share links. The link to the article is as follows.

Pinaki Kar

Shoshana said...

Thank you for posting this recipe! I am always on the lookout for good pesach recipes, and I love banana cake. I will be making this soon for sure. (I test all pesach recipes in the "off season" to make sure they are good, not just good for pesach). I just found your blog and I love it!

Dena Page, M.Ed., CBA said...

Bought this cookbook last year. Haven't made the banana nut cake yet (not a big nut fan) but I've made amazing brownies and cookies and all cakes from there and everything has been wonderful! My daughter discovered the book the other day and decided we should cook something from it every single Shabbat (if not every single day!).

Robin said...

This sounds perfect for our seder, i've been wracking my brain trying to think of a non-chocolate, non-sponge cake pesach dessert.

Do you think that demarara sugar would work for this? I happen to have a LOT of that on hand already and would love to use it instead of going out and buying white sugar.

ByTheBay said...

Because of the delicate nature of a lot of Pesach baked goods, I would not use demerara sugar in this. You can give it a shot but I'm worried it will make the cake to heavy and it won't rise as well. Let me know how it turns out for you.

wendy said...

This cake sounds so good and I might have to make it before Passover.
I have to make a sugar free Passover cake and was wondering if I could use splanda.

Cathy said...

Have any of you actually made this recipe? I hope it's good... it filled a 9 x 12 baking pan plus 6 cupcake cups! It doesn't look like the picture at all--looks like an angel food cake.

ByTheBay said...

Cathy - Did you incorporate the banana and nuts fully with the egg whites? Probably yours looks fluffier because mine fell... and the photo isn't the greatest, it makes it look more yellow than it is. How did the recipe turn out for you? I made this again last week with fresh cranberries in it and it was awesome. Hope you liked it.

Geraldine said...

just found your post.. looks delicious.. i think I'll try the recipe later. thanks