10 hours ago
Monday, May 6, 2013
If you google Venetian Carrot Cake, Nigella Lawson's recipe is the first to come up.
The rest of the recipes are all in Italian.
But this recipe is from a very special cookbook called Cucina Ebraica by Joyce Goldstein.
It translates to Hebrew Cooking in Italian.
I believe it's out of print, but you can preview some of the recipes here.
It's really a history book about the Jews who lived in Italy from the Macabees in ancient times to present day and their cuisine.
They lived mostly in Rome, Ferrara, Venice (think Merchant of Venice), Verona, Sicily, Calabria & Apulia.
The oldest synagogue in Western Europe is in the Roman port of Ostia from the 4th century.
It's interesting stuff for sure. Who knew that there were Italian Jews?
No, Italian Jews did not eat Prosciutto di Parma, Gnocchi or Parmigiano Reggiano, but instead their cuisine consisted of artichokes (carciofi giudia), eggplant (melanzane), fish, nuts, olives, lamb and tomatoes. Think Mediterranean.
You like artichokes? Then this book is for you.
I have so many recipes bookmarked, but never seem to get around to making them, so I am starting with this Torta di Carote del Veneto. A Venetian Carrot Cake.
It was also the perfect opportunity to try out my new Nordicware Platinum Mini Bundt Pan!
Instead of 1 cake, I got 6 perfect little ones that came out of the pan with just flipping the pan over!
This is not your average Betty Crocker carrot cake w/ cream cheese icing, but instead a dense, gorgeous spicy cake, filled with the goodness of fresh carrots.
Not too sweet, and perfect for breakfast.
(I had to deviate and add raisins, I couldn't help it.
What's a carrot cake without raisins?).
Ms. Goldstein just wants you to dust with confectioner's sugar, but I wanted to get fancy and make a glaze.
Just stick with the powdered sugar. My glaze was a bit of a failure.
My taste tester really loved this cake (Henry), and said it was very different and delicious.
Rich, and complex.
It reminded me of a carrot ring or carrot kugel that my grandmother used to make for us, and I loved it.
A note from the author: use only organic, fresh carrots, that smell spicy as your are grating them.
Not 2 month old carrots that have been laying around in your fridge (that comment is mine, obviously).
Ok, let's bake the cake.
Torta de Carote del Veneto (adapted from Cucina Ebraica)
4 cups of grated carrots (about 1 lb. fresh organic carrots)
1 cup of sugar
1 stick of butter
2 eggs (since my eggs were very small, I added an extra one for good luck)
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
zest of a large lemon
1/2 cup of almond meal, or ground almonds
2 cups flour
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 tsp baking soda
Preheat oven to 350F and grease and line a 10 inch spring-form pan with parchment paper.
Grate the carrots with the grating disk in a food processor, unless you have the stamina to use a box grater.
In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add the eggs, extracts and lemon zest.
Mix thoroughly. The batter will be very thick.
Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. mix well.
Fold in carrots and almond meal at the very end.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes.
(if you are using mini bundt pans, then only bake for 20-25 minutes).
Remove the sides of the spring-form pan and cool cake on a rack.
Dust with powdered sugar after the cake has cooled (ignore my glaze and attempt to decorate the cakes w/ sliced almonds, sometimes I get carried away).
Serve with mascarpone cream or whipped cream.
This was the BEST carrot cake ever. My kind of cake.
PS Product Review: The Nordicware mini bundt pan was fantastic! It baked evenly, and the cakes popped right out of the pan, just like my full size bundt pan. (I love all Nordicware baking pans, the only brand I use, and I'm not getting paid to endorse them).