To an American, carrot cake means a rich spiced cake frosted with super-sweet cream cheese icing. But to a Tuscan, this moist cake has no spices at all. In fact, cinnamon is rarely used in desserts and only occasionally used in some savory cooking, such as Barolo Pot Roast.
This cake comes straight from my family recipe box. Served with the mascarpone cream, it is a lovely dinner party dessert, but it also works well with your morning espresso or an afternoon coffee. Try to let the cake stand overnight before serving so the flavors settle… but it won’t be easy, it’s just too good to be left alone on the kitchen counter!
Recipe from “Super Tuscan. Heritage Recipes and Simple Pleasures from our Kitchen to Your Table”, Touchstone. Photography by Eric Wolfinger.
Prep Time: 20 min / Cook Time: 1 hr / Serves: 8
Softened unsalted butter, for the pan
2⁄3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups blanched almond flour
5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1.25 cups granulated sugar
3 cups shredded carrots, from about 4 medium carrots (11 ounces after shredding)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
1 cup mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Confectioners’ sugar, for sifting 1 orange, for zesting (optional)
1Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan.
2Whisk the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the almond flour and whisk again. Beat the egg yolks and granulated sugar in a separate large bowl with an electric hand mixer set at high speed, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture is thickened and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. (A hand mixer or a whisk works best. In a standing mixer, the yolks may not have enough volume for the whisk attachment to reach them in the bottom of a standing mixer’s bowl.)
3Using a sturdy wooden spoon, gradually stir in the almond flour mixture, followed by the shredded carrots. If using the vanilla extract, stir in now. The batter will be quite thick at this point.
4Using clean beaters, whip the egg whites with the salt in a medium grease-free bowl with the hand mixer set on high speed until they form stiff , but not dry, peaks. Using a rubber spatula, stir about one-fourth of the whites into the carrot mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining whites. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
5Bake until the cake is golden brown and has shrunk slightly from the pan, about 1 hour. Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and let cool completely. The cake can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days. If possible, let the cake stand for at least 12 hours before serving.
6Just before serving, sift confectioners’ sugar over the cake. Slice and serve with a dollop of the mascarpone cream, topped with a grating of orange zest, if desired.
1To make the mascarpone cream: Work the mascarpone and confectioners’ sugar together in a small bowl until combined. Let stand at room temperature for about 1 hour to remove its chill.