No carrot cake isn’t an American invention, as I had thought until I saw luscious Nigella conjure up this cake in her unaffected and effortless way in one of her cooking programs on BBC. It’s nothing like an American carrot cake, less sweet more compact and without, butter, eggs or flour!
It apparently dates back to Venetian times, it was on the menu in the Jewish ghetto of the city. I decide to give it a go and hey I love it and so do most people that have tasted it so here it goes :
For the carrot cake
3 tbsp pine nuts
2 medium carrots (approx. 200-250g/7-9oz)
75g/3oz golden sultanas
60ml/2¼fl oz rum or Marsala wine
150g/5oz caster sugar
125ml/4½fl oz regular olive oil, plus extra for greasing or any other regular cooking oil
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
3 free-range eggs
250g/9oz ground almonds (or half of hazelnuts)
½ tsp ground nutmeg, or to taste
½ lemon, finely grated zest and juice
For the carrot cake, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line the base of a 23cm/9in round springform cake tin with re-usable non-stick silicone liner or baking parchment and grease the sides with olive oil.
Toast the pine nuts by browning in a dry frying pan; the oven alone is not enough to scorch out the paleness. Set aside.
Grate the carrots in a processor (for ease) or with a coarse grater, then sit them on a double layer of kitchen paper and wrap them, to soak up excess liquid. Set aside.
Put the golden sultanas in a small saucepan with the rum, bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer for 3 minutes.
Whisk the sugar and oil until creamily and airily mixed.
Whisk in the vanilla extract and eggs and, when well whisked, fold in the ground almonds, nutmeg, grated carrots, golden sultanas (with any rum that clings to them) and, finally, the lemon zest and juice.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. The batter will be very shallow in the tin.
Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts over the cake and put it into the oven for 30–40 minutes, or until the top is risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out sticky but more or less clean.
Remove from the oven and let the cake sit in its tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then unspring and leave it on the rack to cool.
If you want to make it a bit more festive, seeing the dark and cosy days are upon us, put in more sultanas or replace with cranberries?