Everyone thinks of carrot cake as rich and chock full of calories from the raisin packed layers to the thick creamy cream cheese icing slathered on thickly between layers and covering the entire cake. This is an incredibly moist and decadent cake, yet it is gluten free and gets it richness from olive oil, carrots and plump raisins soaked in booze. There is no flour substitution; made entirely with ground almond flour so it is naturally gluten free. It is a single layer and is fairly low in sugar for a cake, and I made a cream cheese icing with less sugar and less cream cheese plus it was a lower fat cream cheese; I just iced the top, so I was able to make less icing and save a few calories. It was definitely enough icing to complement this delightful cake. This version is by Nigella Lawson with a few changes and additions by me. So, all I am thinking right now is why didn’t I make this, years and years ago!
Notes: I didn’t have much rum on hand, so I used some bootleg limoncello I made about 5 years ago to soak my golden raisins in. It really brought the citrus out in this cake. My version used orange zest; I was strangely out of lemons other than ones with their skin already zested for other recipes. The three tablespoons of pine nuts that I toasted and threw into the batter had a big flavor impact. I normally use walnuts in carrot cake, so I now think either is a great way to go; do toast them as it really amps up the nutty flavor.
I wasn’t much thinking about blogging; more about bragging on the deliciousness of this awesome cake and so I took hardly any pictures and none of them are all that decent; I swear that next time I bake it I will take some more pictures of higher value; these sure don’t do this lovely cake justice.
Venetian Carrot Cake
3 Tbsp pine nuts
8 oz coarsely shredded carrots (peel first)
3 oz golden raisins
2 ¼ oz limoncello or rum ( I measured the raisins in a glass measuring cup and added lemoncello to a touch above half way up the raisins )
5 oz sugar
4.5 fluid ounces mild olive oil plus a tad more for greasing the pan
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
9 oz almond flour (not almond meal)
A scant ½ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. cinnamon
The zest of half a good sized lemon or orange plus the juice of said lemon
6 oz room temp light cream cheese
2 Tbsp. butter at room temp
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Prep: Toast the pine nuts (or chopped walnuts) in a dry frying pan stirring or tossing constantly; they will burn if you don’t toss and stir and when they are about done pour them in a small bowl; don’t leave them in the (heat off) frying pan; they will burn on the residual warmth of the pan. Let cool. Put the raisins and limoncello in a small saucepan and heat up; then turn down the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Let cool before using. Next, peel and grate carrots. I did it by hand with my versatile box grater on coarse side, but you can use a food processor, or a shedder attached to your stand mixer. I grated them onto wax paper and then weighed it; so much more accurate than saying 3 carrots and hoping it is the right amount. Line a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper and oil it with a bit of olive oil. Heat your oven to 350 degrees and make sure your shelf is in the middle.
Cake Directions: Put the almond flour, the two spices in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Put the sugar and olive oil in a large mixing bowl and whisk until it is well blended, light and creamy looking. Add the eggs one at a time mixing well before the next one. Add the vanilla extract, mix briefly. They add the almond flour mix and then carrots and the raisins and liquid clinging to them. Last, add the pine nuts, lemon or orange zest and lemon juice. Blend briefly. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 35-40 minutes; mine took the full 40 minutes. It should look risen and a cake tester will come out clean. Mine was rather pale so I briefly broiled it; about 2-3 minutes watching constantly; kinda risky but it was just so unbrowned I decided to go rogue and broil my cake for a couple of scary minutes! Let cool 10 minutes. Run a small sharp knife around the edges to free it and remove the ring of the pan. Set it on a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting. I left mine on the metal bottom; you best do the same!
Make the icing; blend the cream cheese and butter until fluffy; add the sugar in half cups or less as you blend. Add the vanilla and beat the frosting until it is fluffy. Frost the top of your beautiful cake. Enjoy!