A friend asked about the recipe for the "Ludmilla" cake, the one I mentioned in yesterday's blog. As I said, it's from my friend Anita S. in Brooklyn. If I remember correctly, Anita obtained it from a Russian friend--whose name, I'm guessing, is Ludmilla.
Here's the recipe:
10 eggs, separated
1 1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. potato starch (used on Passover in lieu of flour, which is verbotten), or 1 c. flour*
1/2 c. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla (kosher for Passover vanilla is hard to find; I use vanilla sugar)
a pinch of baking soda
1/4 c. water
You need two bowls for this recipe--one for the egg whites, another for the yolks.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Separate the eggs as soon as you take them out of the fridge (when separating a cold egg, there's less chance that a yolk will invade the white; even a speck of yolk will render a white meringue-dead), but let the whites reach room temperature (or close to it, if you're rushed) before you beat them.
In a clean, dry bowl beat the egg whites. When they begin to stiffen, add 3/4 c. sugar and the vanilla (or vanilla sugar). Continue to beat the whites until they're stiff but not dry. (They should glisten.) Set the bowl aside.
In the second bowl beat the yolks with the remaining 3/4 c. sugar until the batter is a thick, smooth pale yellow. Add the oil, baking soda, potato starch, cocoa, and water.
IN THAT ORDER. That's what Anita says, and I take her at her word.
Fold the yolk batter into the egg whites. Do this slowly and calmly, probably not while listening to a talk radio host who annoys or enrages you with his politics.
Pour the batter into an ungreased ten-inch tube pan.** Raise the pan an inch or two off the counter and let it drop onto the counter. (This move, which I learned from a friend, is supposed to eliminate air bubbles. Does it? I don't know. But what can you lose?)
Place the tube pan into the oven. Bake for one hour. Do not, under any circumstance, open the oven door before the cake is done. Do not bang cabinet doors or stomp on the floor in glee or frustration or slam a nearby door.
When the cake is done, remove the pan, invert it quickly, and set it on a cooling rack.
This is when you pray that the cake won't slide out of the pan. Worrying won't help. You'll know within a few minutes.
Let the cake cool for an hour. Turn the pan right side up. Cool another hour. To loosen the cake, run a knife around the edges of the pan and around the center tube. Lift the cake out of the pan. Run the knife under the cake to loosen it from the bottom of the tube pan.
*About the potato starch. You can substitute flour for the starch. I'm not sure about the quantity, but my daughter's mother-in-law, Edith, suggested using 1 cup of flour instead of the 3/4 cup potato starch.
**About the tube pan: My daughter-in-law bought one with a Teflon coating at Target two weeks ago. I advised her to return it. Because the point of Teflon is to prevent food from sticking to a surface, right? I was worried that the cake would slide right out of the pan. Like it doesn't have enough problems hanging in there...
Then I thought, what if I'm wrong? So I phoned William Sonoma and spoke to a pleasant young man who assured me that a Teflon-coated tube pan would work fine for an angel-type cake.
But my friend Liz says otherwise.
And I trust Liz.
You should, too.