Book Reviews

Perfection Only Takes 12 Eggs

If you know anyone with a Passover birthday, the Vilna Vegetarian cookbook has a recipe for the perfect cake. I don’t know if the Passover Torte can be frosted with buttercream, but the cake is still so good, that following the suggestion to fill it with chocolate cream is hardly a disappointment.

I say “suggestion”, because using the Vilna Vegetarian in a modern American kitchen is something of an intuitive process. Reading through a recipe several times will only get you so far. In the case of the Passover Torte, following the instructions as written inspired questions like “what size cake pan would have been standard in a late 1930s Lithuanian kitchen”. Also “how many layers are in a torte”, and “how much cream do you need to make to fill them”. If you don’t mind experimenting and are confident enough to go with the flow a little bit, you will be rewarded with a light and fluffy Passover cake that actually tastes like (good!) cake. Oh, and owning some laying hens might also be helpful, since it only needs a dozen eggs.

While not as user-friendly as other cookbooks, the results are worth the extra effort. The Passover Torte was the perfect introduction, and now  I’m looking forward to being creative with some kugels.

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