Millions of Jews around the world start celebrating Passover or Pesach at sunset on Saturday – a tradition that remembers the Exodus, or how Moses led the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt more than 3 000 years ago.
According to the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament, Moses warned the pharaoh that if he did not free the Israelites, Egypt would be hit by plagues including blood, frogs, darkness, and the death of every first-born male in Egypt.
Eventually, as the story goes in the Old Testament, the pharaoh gave in and told Moses and the Israelites to leave Egypt.
Jews believe that when the pharaoh refused to free the slaves and ignored the other plagues, God set about killing every first-born male in Egypt.
God warned Moses that to protect their first-born sons, the Israelites should mark their doors with lamb’s blood so God would know to “pass over” their houses and spare them from the plague.
According to the Book of Exodus, the Israelites left in such a rush that their bread did not have time to rise; so that during Passover, Jews eat unleavened bread, or matzoh.
Prior to Passover, observant Jews have to ensure that there are not even crumbs of bread known as chametz or any leavened foods, including crackers, cakes and muffins in their homes. Chametz means “leaven” — any food that’s made of grain and water that has been allowed to ferment and “rise.”
Cereal, cookies, pizza, pasta, and beer are blatant examples of chametz; but any food that contains grain or grain derivatives can be, and often is, chametz.
So even alcoholic drinks made from grain are considered “chametz”.
As a result, over the centuries there have been hundreds of creative ideas in the kitchen to devise ways to ensure there’s tasty food on the table during the seven day Passover period, this year from Saturday April 23 until Saturday April 30.
For example some people make lasagne using the large sheets of matzoh instead of pasta; and as far as baked goodies go, there are dozens of delicious ideas.
I made this cake on the weekend after some experimentation.
Flourless chocolate and nut torte
200g good quality dark chocolate
200g chopped almonds and walnuts or pecans
150 caster sugar
Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the whites until peaks form and slowly add in the sugar. Fold in the egg yolks.
Chop the chocolate into small 1cm pieces and gently fold into the mixture and then the chopped nuts.
Butter an 8cm round baking tin and gently pour in the mixture. Bake in a 180 deg C oven for about 40 minutes until a knife comes out clean.
Serve with whipped cream.