Passover, or Pesach, is an important Jewish holiday celebrated on the 15th day of Nisan on the Jewish calendar. Working with kosher-for-Pesach ingredients can be a challenge even for seasoned cooks who grew up observing the holiday. For example, matzo meal is a major component of many Passover recipes, but it behaves quite differently in recipes than the flour it's typically meant to replace. That's where matzo cake meal comes in handy.
Matzo Meal vs. Cake Meal
Nearing the holiday, you will find containers of both matzo meal and cake meal in the Passover section of the grocery store. Matzo meal is simply ground matzo. It is used as a substitute for flour or breadcrumbs during Passover, but it has a coarser texture, in part due to the fact it is made from a product that has already been baked. Matzo meal works well as a breading or binder, and its texture is perfectly suited for making matzo balls, rather than cakes and cookies.
Matzo cake meal is ground matzo, but the texture is much finer and akin more to flour than breadcrumbs. However, it does not behave like all-purpose flour. Since cake meal is also made from already-baked matzo, it doesn't absorb liquid or develop structure in the same way flour does. Its fine texture works better for recipes, and especially desserts, that are meant to have a more delicate crumb.
Substituting One for the Other
Given that matzo meal and matzo cake meal are similar products, people often wonder if they need to buy both. Depending on what you're making, you can substitute one for the other, but you do need to keep a few things in mind. You want to consider what you are making before substitution one for the other. Matzo meal is best in recipes for matzo balls, kugel, or Pesach rolls, so it's a good idea to stick to the original recipe. Matzo cake meal, on the other hand, generally works well in cake and cookie recipes; substituting matzo meal can result in denser or clumpier baked goods.
If you do need to substitute in a baking recipe, you should not use the same amount of cake meal as matzo meal; cake meal has a finer and powder-like consistency that takes up less space in a measuring cup than matzo meal, so substituting 1:1 can throw off the recipe. If your recipe calls for 3/4 cup of matzo meal, try using 3/4 cup plus 4 1/2 teaspoons of cake meal.
Making Your Own Matzo Cake Meal
If you find you need cake meal for a recipe, but only have matzo meal, it is easy to make your own. Simply grind matzoh meal in a blender or food processor until it reaches a fine and even consistency. Use about 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of matzoh meal to yield 1 cup of cake meal.