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Passover cake - help requested
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Author:  JS [ 03 Nov 2016, 08:50 ]
Post subject:  Passover cake - help requested

Can anyone help me out here? Re-reading Exile and Herr Goldmann used to send Joey 'Passover cake' every year. It sounds (from the text) as though EBD thought there was 'one' thing that would be understood as Passover cake - a bit like Christmas cake - whereas Prof Google tells me that while there are lots of recipes (and rules) there is no 'one' cake. Is that right?

Also, does anyone know if it would be a usual thing to do to send someone a piece of 'Passover cake' or was EBD conflating it with her own ideas of sending/sharing cake to mark ceremonies, such as weddings and baptisms in the Christian tradition?

Author:  Alison H [ 03 Nov 2016, 09:00 ]
Post subject:  Re: Passover cake - help requested

I'd always wondered about this. However, the mystery was unintentionally solved for me by the Manchester Evening News, which, every Saturday, has a page featuring articles from "this week 100 years ago" :D. In April, there was an article about how Manchester's Jewish community would be marking Passover - in 1916 - and it turned out, from this article, that "Passover cake" was actually an old-fashioned English term for matzah/unleavened bread, eaten at Passover because of the Bible story about slaves fleeing Egypt and not having time to let their bread "rise". I'd never heard the expression, as in meaning something specific rather than just any kosher-for-Passover cake, anywhere before, other than in Exile.

I was rather disappointed. I'd been thinking of it as a nice cake!!

It's like this.

Author:  Miriam [ 03 Nov 2016, 21:40 ]
Post subject:  Re: Passover cake - help requested

That is interesting. I have never heard matzah referred to as cakes before, but it is a literal tranlation of the term used in the Bible. Ugot matzah - cakes of matzah. In modern hebrew, 'ugah' means cake so I suppose one can see how the term would come about.

The actual cakes one bakes on Pasover contain no flour, and are often very airy and baked using potato starch and ground nuts instead of flour. They can be very good but are often delicate and easy to ruin. They also dry out very quickly so they don't last long. (With the entire family gathered togather, this is rarely a problem!)

Author:  JS [ 04 Nov 2016, 14:18 ]
Post subject:  Re: Passover cake - help requested

Thanks both, very kind of you.

Miriam, would it be something you'd share with neighbours and friends like Herr Goldmann apparently sending Passover cake to Joey every year?

Author:  NanaG [ 05 Nov 2016, 10:00 ]
Post subject:  Re: Passover cake - help requested

Not quite the same but a parallel perhaps? My Gran's husband was Polish and every Easter his sister sent him what looked to us like Communion wafers with his Easter card? Is this something other people remember or have seen?

Author:  Victoria [ 05 Nov 2016, 13:31 ]
Post subject:  Re: Passover cake - help requested

I don't know of it as an easter tradition but I do know of the "Christmas Wafer" tradition which is Polish.

"Christmas Wafers" are thin unleavened breads that do look very much like Communion wafers and which often have embossed Christmas themes or symbols. Naturally they are not consecrated!

I would suggest that Herr Goldmann is an Ashkenazi Jew and, as a result, shares many traditions with East Europe. The sending of Passover cake resembles the sharing of unleavened bread at Eastern European major celebrations and festivals plus the equally traditional gift of bread-and-salt given as a symbolic wish of good luck and prosperity.

Author:  Miriam [ 06 Nov 2016, 19:55 ]
Post subject:  Re: Passover cake - help requested

JS wrote:
Thanks both, very kind of you.

Miriam, would it be something you'd share with neighbours and friends like Herr Goldmann apparently sending Passover cake to Joey every year?


Not really. There is no reason why not, but I have never heard of it being done. Matzah is purely a combination of flour and water, mixed, rolled very thin and flat, and then baked, all in less than eighteen minutes. No other ingredients are allowed, so the final product is crispy but often has a rather monotonous taste and texture, and is tedious to eat.

It replaces normal (leavened) bread during the eight days of Passover, and everyone just goes out and buys an adequate amount for their family before the beginning of Passover. The only time I have ever heard of it being shared is when one family underestimates how much they will need, and borrows some of the surplus from a neighbour.

Joey would have seen it as an unusual delicacy, and would probably have enjoyed eating a small amount of an unusual food, but by the end of eight days, you are normally very happy to get back to eating normal bread again. I've wondered if Herr Goldman sent Joey matzah as a way of disposing of his surplus!

Author:  Pado [ 28 Dec 2016, 04:52 ]
Post subject:  Re: Passover cake - help requested

I can easily imagine Joey having a conversation with him, and he responding by sending her some matzah. And her breaking her watch again and thanking him, and it becoming a tradition.

But there's no such thing as "Passover cake." Sounds like EBD had read something and was trying her best to be ecumenical.

Author:  Victoria [ 15 May 2018, 14:13 ]
Post subject:  Re: Passover cake - help requested

I came across a mention of "singing cake" which can be either a communion host made from a "fine bread" recipe or the larger communion wafer used specifically the priest in a communion subject.

That led me to investigating "cake" and what I found was that "cake" originally seems to have referred to bread-like confections, often unleavened. The original "cakes" were not necessarily sweetened and "bread-like" simply seems to have meant that one of the ingredients was flour. The bread/cake connection still exists in Sheffield and other areas that refer to a bread roll as a "bread-cake".

It would seem, therefore, that it is feasible that matzo could have been referred to as "passover cake" either from its resemblance to the more familiar communion wafer or simply as an old description that survived in dialect form.

Author:  Noreen [ 15 May 2018, 15:39 ]
Post subject:  Re: Passover cake - help requested

Interesting! Thank you, Victoria - I'm particularly interested in surnames at the moment, and recently met some people whose family name was Cakebread, which I've only come across once before, at school. As you probably know, the OED has the noun cake-bread "Bread made in flattened cakes; or of the finer and more dainty quality of cake", so my Cakebreads' ancestors were probably purveyors of same.

Author:  Alison H [ 15 May 2018, 20:31 ]
Post subject:  Re: Passover cake - help requested

What a lovely surname to have! I've known plenty of people called Baker - possibly related to Joan :D - but I've never come across Cakebread before!

Author:  Elder in Ontario [ 15 May 2018, 20:48 ]
Post subject:  Re: Passover cake - help requested

Alison H wrote:
What a lovely surname to have! I've known plenty of people called Baker - possibly related to Joan :D - but I've never come across Cakebread before!


There used to be a firm called Cakebread, Robey & Co., and the name always intrigued me. Not sure if it's still in existence.

Author:  Noreen [ 15 May 2018, 20:57 ]
Post subject:  Re: Passover cake - help requested

Alison H wrote:
What a lovely surname to have! I've known plenty of people called Baker - possibly related to Joan :D - but I've never come across Cakebread before!
Isn't it? It's the only product specific one I can think of in the 'Baker' range, off the top of my head (and we seem to have more Baxters than Bakers in East Anglia anyway).

We did have some cracking surnames at that school: Isotta, Petitdemange, Azancot, Anguish, Secret...as well as all the Doys, Catchpoles and Uttings you'd expect in that part of the country.

Author:  Jennie [ 17 May 2018, 17:08 ]
Post subject:  Re: Passover cake - help requested

'Baker' is the masculine form of the name in Middle English, so 'John Baker', whilst 'Baxter' is the female form, so, 'Joan Baxter'.

This of course indicates that Joan derives her surname fro a male ancestor. Typical!

Author:  bythebrook [ 18 May 2018, 06:49 ]
Post subject:  Re: Passover cake - help requested

Jennie wrote:
'Baker' is the masculine form of the name in Middle English, so 'John Baker', whilst 'Baxter' is the female form, so, 'Joan Baxter'.

This of course indicates that Joan derives her surname fro a male ancestor. Typical!


And Brewer/Brewster, Spinner/Spinster, Weaver/Webster etc. Some tasks, such as brewing were commonly done by women e.g. Alewife as a occupation name instead of Brewster.

in the example of Joan Baxter, it could mean that Joan's mother was the baker - so Joan of the baxter's family, in contrast to Joan from the butcher's family (they didn't seem to have a wide variety of names in a village). There would have been many widows, so having a female head of family wouldn't be too unusual.

Edit: re. Passover cake I have a recipe for a Jewish festival cake made with almond flour instead of wheat flour. It involves boiling two oranges for 1.5 hours, then blending them - skin, pith and all. It's delicious, and gluten-free.

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