Translated by Jan Lee
A published author and chef, Antoní Pinya is one of Mallorca’s foremost authorities on Balearic Island cuisine. He has devoted much of his career to discovering and perfecting subtleties of Mallorca’s many famous dishes, as this delicate Sephardic Passover torte demonstrates. Chef Pinya’s baking notes are included at the end of the recipe.
You can either grind the blanched almonds yourself, or purchase almond flour, which is sold in most natural foods stores.
2 cups 1 teaspoon almond flour (finely ground raw almonds)
1 1/4 cups sugar
The grated peel of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon ground coffee (not instant)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
A pinch or so of matzah flour
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 F*
Butter a tart mold with butter or margarine.
Sprinkle it with the matzah flour.
Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
Beat the yolks, blending with the sugar until the mix has doubled its initial volume.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff.
Fold the yolk mixture into the whites.
Add the ground almonds with the coffee, cinnamon and the lemon peel, and combine into the mixture
Pour the mixture into the buttered mold.
*Bake at 350˚F for the first 15 minutes, and then reduce heat to 320˚F for the remaining 25 minutes.
Remove mold from oven and let it rest for five minutes.
Carefully remove the torte from the mold.
Sprinkle the torte with a bit of confectioner’s sugar.
This is a cherished delicacy on the island of Mallorca, and especially among chueta families. Its ingredients, the manner of preparation and its qualities reflect its Jewish culinary heritage. Today, we can find its origins reflected in other Sephardic communities.
In Italy, it is known by the name of Bocca di Dama, although the latter version is made with flour and is served during the break-the-fast that follows Yom Kippur. In Turkey, surprisingly, it goes by the same name as in Mallorca, but has a distinction: Turkish Jewish cooks use walnuts in place of almonds, and call it Gato de Muez de Pesah. In Morocco it is known by the name of Pallebe aux Amandes, and like in Italy, is made with flour. These examples confirm that Jews throughout the Diaspora have adapted to the places in which they have settled, changing the aromas, but staying faithful to the same traditional conventions.
Antoní Pinya holds a shechita knife, used in the kosher slaughtering of
animals, reportedly passed down
by his ancestors. Pinya is a master
chef in Mallorcan cuisine.
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