I’ve never been a huge fan of carrot cake, a rather overrated cake in my opinion. I’ve always felt said cake was somehow masquerading as semi-healthy. When given the choice, I’d still rather just eat a big slice of chocolate cake instead!
That is, until recently, when my opinion of the chocolate cake’s vegetable based cousin has somewhat changed.
A friend of mine had turned 30, so as I’d missed his official birthday I offered to bake him a cake of his choice; his wife suggested a carrot Cake.
I thought to myself ‘oh dear, that’s not one of my specialities’. But then I remembered I had this recipe I’d been meaning to sample for ages. So I dug around in my drawer, jam packed with recipes and found Nigella’s (who else?) Venetian Carrot Cake.
What I like about this recipe is not only is it gluten free as it uses only ground almonds instead of flour. But it also discards the usual sickly cream cheese frosting for a far more superior mascarpone rum cream to serve on the side. And for some reason I do like the option of ‘on the side’ with anything!
This cake is lovely and moist and is more like a pudding, especially with the mascarpone cream accompaniment.
Therefore as a recent convert to the ways of the carrot. I give you Nigella’s Venetian Carrot Cake.
Venetian Carrot Cake
For the carrot cake
3 tbsp pine nuts
2 medium carrots (approx. 200-250g)
75g golden sultanas
150g caster sugar
125ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 free-range eggs
250g ground almonds
½ tsp ground nutmeg, or to taste (I left this out as I don’t care for nutmeg)
½ lemon, finely grated zest and juice
For the mascarpone cream (optional)
250g tub of mascarpone
2 tsp icing sugar
2 tbsp rum
- For the carrot cake, preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Line the base of a 23cm/9in round spring form cake tin with non-stick baking parchment and grease the sides with olive oil.
- Toast the pine nuts by browning in a dry frying pan. 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 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.
- For the mascarpone cream, mix the mascarpone with the icing sugar and rum.
To serve, transfer the cake to a plate. Put the mascarpone cream in a bowl to spoon alongside the cake, for those who want.