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Light Carrot Almond Cake

Monday, August 3, 2009
Light Almond Carrot Cake

Like everyone's Grandma, mine also is the best cook ever, with her simple yet flavourful meals that had fed an always growing family for decades. And like everyone's Grandma, mine also cooks and bakes without scales, weights, measuring tools or gadgets of any kind. Nicht. Nada. All that counts are her instinct and experience, along with the availability of ingredients and the imagination of the moment. As a result, you can't find in her kitchen the classic Recipe Notebook, and the few ones she had written here and there on loose paper sheets are those she's never tried, so you might as well not bother...

Every time you try asking her Can you tell me how you make these?, you already know that it'll be useless, the recipe she tries to dictate goes all like this: Add a little flour..., Yes, but how much? I don't know, the right amount, as much as the dough can absorb; ...ehm....; Then add a handful of sugar... But more or less? Well, I don't know, just taste it...And then you fold in some eggs...; Eggs are easy, Grandma, how many? It all depends on how big they are... And the egg whites, do you need to whisk them stiff? I don't remember, it will occur to me once I make it...
So I usually give up, thinking that maybe it's better that way, some dishes wouldn't make sense outside of her kitchen where the dog is always seated at the head of the table acting as the official taster. Other times I can torture her to the end and I'm able to write out everything with the accuracy of a medieval monk, only to find out when time comes that the cookies turn out hard as stones, the tart crumbles under the filling's weight and the gnocchi don't come back to the surface anymore. It's like when those famous chefs go on TV, you already know that their recipes will be obscure, or, if you are lucky, they will omit one of the main ingredients. And all you get is a legendary, unforgettable disaster.

Yesterday, when I found this recipe in the middle of my old notes, I thought that maybe that day Grandma was hiding me the fat element. No oil, no butter, cream or yogurt. It sounded a bit odd, but I wanted to give it a try anyways, exactly how I had written it down. And for once the result was really satisfying: a super soft and light cake, perfect for breakfast. It's a sort of carrot sponge cake.
To make it richer, I filled it with some ricotta cream, but I think it'd go well also with some vanilla or lemon scented pastry cream. Or even simply paired with a huge latte : )

Carrot Almond Cake
Very Very Light

for a 9" diameter spring form

eggs 5
confectioners' sugar 150 gr.
carrots 250 gr.
almond 200 gr.
corn starch 100 gr.
baking powder 3/4 teaspoon
lemon 1
confectioners' sugar for dusting

Beat yolks with confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Add grated carrots, finely ground almonds, grated zest of lemon and a couple of spoons of its juice. Mix well, then add corn starch, sifted with baking powder. Whisk egg whites until firm, then gently fold them in.
Bake at 350 for about 40 or 50 minutes. Let it cool on a rack. Cut the cake in two layers, moist them by pouring over few teaspoons of milk and then spread over one of them the lemon scented ricotta cream (work about 250 gr. ricotta cheese with 2 tablespoons of confectioners' sugar and grated zest of 1/2 lemon until it gets smooth; whisk two egg whites until stiff and fold them gently into the cheese).
Reassemble the cake and dust generously with confectioners' sugar.
WendyinKK said... [Reply to comment]

I came by searching for Carrot Sponge Cake. Nice cake :)

My grandaunt is the best cook too :)My grandma passed away before I even knew who she was, so it is my grandaunt.

elmira said... [Reply to comment]

I baked slightly different version - no baking soda, no starch. And yes, it is yummy.
For topping I would like to suggest a white chocolate glaze (with Lindt or any high quality white chocolate). You can use just half of the amount in the recipe below to create a thin layer of glaze. The glaze can be poured (if you make a full recipe) or brushed over (if you make a thin layer with a half recipe).

white chocolate 100g
heavy cream 50ml
butter 1 tablespoon

add ONE of the following:
orange concentrate (optional) 1 teasp
vanilla extract (optional) 1/8 teasp
candied orange peel 1/2 teasp

1. break chocolate into small pieces
2. bring cream + butter to almost boil in very small saucepan
3. reduce heat to low, add chocolate to cream. melt chocolate with minimal heat possible.
whisk constantly. remove from heat as soon as all of chocolate is melted.
4. pour or brush the glaze over the cake, put cake into fridge for 1 hr at least for glaze to set.

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