Passover, or Pesach, is an important Jewish holiday celebrated on the 15th day of Nisan. Working with kosher-for-Pesach ingredients can be a challenge for even 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.
Passover ingredients are often expensive and tend to come in smaller containers than their year-round counterparts. They often sell out during the holiday as well. Additionally, time is at a premium given all of the from-scratch cooking Passover requires. During the year, a failed recipe experiment may not be a big deal, but during Pesach, it can feel like a catastrophe. Fortunately, the more you know about the holiday ingredients, the more confidently you can play around with them—even if you run out of essentials like matzo meal.
Substituting Passover Cake Meal for Matzo Meal
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, it can work. However, do not double the cake meal due to the volume and weight when baking. Cake meal is 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.
To make your own cake meal at home, simply grind matzoh meal in a blender or food processor. Use about 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of matzoh meal to yield 1 cup of cake meal. For example, if your recipe calls for 3/4 cup of matzo meal, try using 3/4 cup plus 4.5 teaspoons of cake meal.
While matzo cake meal generally works well in cake and cookie recipes, it can turn out denser or clumpier if you substitute cake meal for matzoh meal. So when you're making something like matzo balls, kugel, or Pesach rolls, it's a good idea to stick to the original recipe.
The Difference Between Matzo and Cake Meal
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 of it being 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 an 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. However, its fine texture works better for recipes, and especially desserts, that are meant to have a more delicate crumb.
Whether you need to replace graham cracker crumbs, matzo farfel, or corn syrup, there's plenty of Passover cooking substitutions you can use for swapping out ingredients in your favorite recipes.