Passover Hazelnut Sponge Cake

This is the final part of a series of recipes from our forthcoming cookbook The New Mediterranean Jewish Table by Joyce Goldstein. Check out the other recipes here.




Passover Hazelnut Sponge Cake

Pan di Spagna alle Nocciole

A family favorite, this light, flourless Italian Passover cake is fragrant with sweet toasted hazelnuts—a specialty of the Piedmont region—and with subtle hints of citrus.

Serves 10 to 12



10 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange (3 to 4 tablespoons juice)

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (2 to 3 tablespoons juice)

11/2 cups finely ground toasted and peeled hazelnuts

6 tablespoons matzo cake meal, sifted

2 tablespoons potato starch

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract



Preheat the oven to 350°F. Have ready a 10-inch tube pan.

In a bowl, combine the egg yolks, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the citrus zests and juices. Using an electric mixer, beat on high speeduntil the mixture is thick and pale and holds a 3-second slowly dissolving ribbon when the beaters are lifted.

In a second bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. On medium-high speed, gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the egg mixture just until combined, then fold in the hazelnuts, the matzo cake meal, potato starch, salt, and vanilla.

Pour the batter into the tube pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Invert the cake still in the pan onto a wire rack and let cool completely. To serve, lift off the pan and transfer the cake to a serving plate. Cut into slices and serve.


Joyce Goldstein was chef and owner of the groundbreaking Mediterranean restaurant Square One in San Francisco. Prior to opening Square One, she was chef at the Chez Panisse Café and visiting executive chef at the Wine Spectator Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. Today she is a cooking teacher, consultant to the restaurant and food industries, and prolific cookbook author.