Carrot Almond Cake with Ricotta Cream

DSC02752Lately I’ve been cooking from Deborah Madison’s “Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening With Twelve Families From the Edible Plant Kingdom, With Over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes.” This recipe for carrot almond cake was the first recipe I tried. The cake is moist and flavorful, not too sweet, with a glowing color from two cups of grated carrots. A sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar and a dollop of ricotta cream finish off this understated cake. It’s a really nice alternative to carrot cake, which oftentimes seems so heavy and sweet.

Carrot Almond Cake With Ricotta Cream (from The Washington Post, adapted from Vegetable Literacy; 8-10 servings)

For the cake
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more as needed
1 1/2 cups finely ground blanched almonds or slivered almonds (skinned) (may substitute almond flour)
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons organic granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups unbleached cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Scant 2 cups grated carrots, preferably yellow

For the ricotta cream
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 cup regular or low-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons honey
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

For the cake: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat 375 degrees. Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter and let it cool.

Combine the ground almonds, lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar in a food processor. Pulse until well incorporated. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with a little butter, then dust the sides with some of the almond-zest mixture, shaking out any excess.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Combine the eggs and the remaining 3/4 cup of granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on low, then high speed until pale, foamy and thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low; add the remaining almond-zest mixture, the almond extract and the flour mixture, beating until well incorporated. Pour the cooled butter over the batter and quickly fold it in, followed by the carrots.

Scrape the batter into the pan, smoothing the surface. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees; bake the cake until it is springy to the touch in the center, lightly browned and beginning to pull away from the pan sides, about 40 minutes. Let it cool completely in its pan, then release the springform and slide the cake onto a platter.

For the ricotta cream: Work together the ricotta, sour cream, honey and zest by hand or with a mixer on low speed, until smooth. Taste, and add more of any of the ingredients as needed. The cream will thin out as it sits, forming a nice sauce for the cake.

Just before serving, dust the cake with the confectioners’ sugar. Serve the sauce alongside.

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