Carrot Almond Cake Recipe

by Lael Hazan on March 22, 2011

This carrot almond cake, which Giuliano learned from his mother, Marcella Hazan, is sweet without being cloying, essentially butterless and flourless, and light.  It keeps for even a week in the refrigerator. My husband, who enjoys something sweet for breakfast, likes having it in the morning.

Giuliano often teaches how to make this cake in his classes and it is always a hit.  A few well-placed tricks, like chopping the almonds together with the sugar so they don’t become a paste, and gently folding the egg whites into the mixture, make a lot of difference.  We’ve often heard surprise and delight from people who normally don’t like carrot cake.


This cake exemplifies the Italian simple and genuine approach. There are equal amounts carrots and almonds in this cake, with both flavors present and not covered up.  It is neither heavy, oily, or overly sweet.  Rather than a cream cheese topping, a dollop of simple homemade whipped cream is all that’s needed. Of course, I’m not sure that makes it “low cal.”


Summary(Adapted from Marcella’s Italian Kitchen by Marcella Hazan)


  • 9 ounces unblanched almonds
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 9 ounces carrots, peeled
  • 4 ounces dry ladyfingers
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur
  • a pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 10- inch springform pan
  • 2 teaspoons butter for greasing the pan
  • 1 tablespoon flour for dusting the pan
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped with 1 tsp. of sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Put the almonds and the sugar in a food processor and chop as finely as possible. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Break up the ladyfingers into pieces about one inch long, place them in the food processor, and grind to a powder. Add to the almonds and sugar in the mixing bowl.
  4. Cut the carrots into pieces about one inch long and chop in the food processor as finely as possible. Add to the bowl, mixing them in well with the other ingredients.
  5. Add the baking powder, salt, and Amaretto liqueur, and mix well.
  6. Add the egg yolks, mixing them in until they are well distributed with the other ingredients.
  7. Whip the egg whites with an electric mixer or by hand until they form stiff peaks. Take a couple of tablespoons of the beaten egg whites and mix them with the ingredients in the bowl to soften the mixture a bit. Pour the rest of the egg whites onto the mixture and carefully fold them in with a rubber spatula.
  8. Grease the bottom and sides of the springform pan with the butter and dust it with flour. Pour the batter into the pan, then shake the pan a bit until the batter is evenly distributed.
  9. Place the pan in the upper level of the preheated oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out dry when inserted into the cake.
  10. When the cake is cool, cut it into 8-12 pieces and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Quick Notes

Make sure you purchase dry ladyfingers. Leave butter and eggs out until room temperature. Chop the almonds fine, but not until they form a paste.

Cooking time (duration): 15 prep time, 50 minutes cooking time.

Number of servings (yield): 8-12

Meal type: dessert

Culinary tradition: Italian


Comments on this entry are closed.

Jill April 22, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Finally got up the nerve to try this. I couldn’t figure out what dry ladyfingers were so I just bought the ones I found at Publix. They seemed soft so I froze them before putting them in the processor. They made beautiful fine crumbs that way. And the cake is heavenly. I hope I have some left to serve my kids for Easter brunch!! thanx for the recipe!

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen March 28, 2011 at 11:47 pm

I love this Italian version of carrot cake, the almonds and beaten egg whites must make this so moist and light and of course a little bit of Amaretto never hurts either!

Sarah, Maison Cupcake March 28, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I’ve not made a carrot cake for so long and this is the second one I’ve been drooling over today. I can’t believe how much carrot is in it… does this mean it’s really healthy cake? ;-)

Jamie March 26, 2011 at 8:52 am

Amaretto? I’m there! But I also love the almonds and the ladyfingers in this carrot cake, so different from the carrot cakes I am used to. A definite must try. JP also loves a sliced of plain, moist, yummy frostingless cake for breakfast. Looks fabulous!

SMITH BITES March 26, 2011 at 8:34 am

i’m a fan of carrot cake so am quite interested in this recipe because (a) it has ladyfingers in it and (b) Giuliano has given me permission to eat it for BREAKFAST!!! The Professor thanks you!!

El March 24, 2011 at 10:48 pm

I love old family recipes. This looks very different compared o what we’re used to here in the US and very tasty. I like that it’s not to sweet. Bookmarking now- thanks for sharing!

Lora @cakeduchess March 23, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Ciao Lael-If this is your mother-in-law’s recipe…it has to be amazing! I know my husband will love it for it’s simplicity. I adore carrot cakes and will give it a whirl-thank you for sharing!!:)

foodwanderings March 23, 2011 at 9:04 am

This is a real refreshing take on carrot cake. Beautiful and moist looking too. Lael when I came to the States over 20 years ago the idea of what I perceived as savory ingredients in sweet was very foreign to me. Like a carrot cake or a zucchini bread. I do not know when the transformation occured but give me a slice of zucchini bread with my afternoon tea and a carrot cake as a dessert and I will be a happy camper any day of the week!

Meeta March 23, 2011 at 5:39 am

This looks incredibly moist! I love the color the most though. Carrot cakes are huge in my books and I always am ready to try out a new recipe. Thanks for this one!

aqua March 22, 2011 at 11:18 pm

I am recent convert to carrot cake, though this is the first time I am coming across a flourless one. Love how delicate that cake crumb looks and I know this is something I’d like to try!

Heather Atwood March 22, 2011 at 6:41 pm

I love this kind of old fashion surprise of a dessert.

Steff Malik Stephens March 22, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Lael~~I am sitting here a week out from Hip replacement If you were in Atlanta I would beg you to come by !!!

Robert Winegar March 22, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Please send some over to my office!!!

Rosa March 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm

It looks absolutely delicious and so smooth! I love that addition of ladyfingers. It makes me think of the French cake that is made with the Biscuits Roses de Reims….



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