My paternal grandmother has been gone now for many years and we were very close. I think of her often, but more now than ever as Passover is nearing.

I loved watching her cook or bake because she was such a natural at it. A little of this and a lot of that was the way she put her delicious dishes together. I remember following her around the kitchen with a notepad, writing down what I thought were the approximate amounts of ingredients that she used. She would always yell at me, in a loving way, stating that I was too attached to EXACT amounts, and yet I always strove for the results that she created.

As Passover approaches, I recall her showing me how to gently fold the dry ingredients into an egg foam to make a mile high sponge cake. When I was old enough, I made my own sponge cake and, well…it wasn’t quite the fine baked good that grandma would have produced. Now, my grandma was always one to speak her mind and not hold back on whatever she was thinking. To be blunt, she had absolutely NO TACT!! When she saw my attempt at a sponge cake, she said, “You call THAT a sponge cake?”

(We’ll save her colorful comments about my potato kugel for another day…)

Although it was painful to hear the negative critique of my first solo-made sponge cake, I took it well knowing she was saying it with love. Because of this, I kept making sponge cakes to ensure that they got closer to hers. My future attempts got rave reviews from her, so practice makes perfect.

After making another annual sponge cake, a new tradition has started. After the cake is baked and taken out of the pan, I proudly hold it up for grandma to see (wherever she may be) and state proudly,” Yes, grandma, I call THIS a sponge cake!”

Happy Baking and Happy Passover to all who celebrate it!

Chef Gail