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.”
Recipe: CARROT ALMOND CAKE
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
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Put the almonds and the sugar in a food processor and chop as finely as possible. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the baking powder, salt, and Amaretto liqueur, and mix well.
- Add the egg yolks, mixing them in until they are well distributed with the other ingredients.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- When the cake is cool, cut it into 8-12 pieces and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
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