Tuesday, 10 February 2009

English Carrot-Almond Cake

This recipe is adapted from one in Jane Grigson's excellent book English Food which was published in the 1970's; she in turn gives its source as The Oxford High School Cook Book.

Compared to the carrot cake that first burst upon the North American scene at the same time that this one was making its debut in Britain, this one is extremely restrained. (You know the one. It had 4 eggs like this one, and lots of sugar like this one, and nuts, but went on to add lots of flour, pineapple or raisins, coconut and one and one half cups of oil. Topped with cream cheese icing. But it had carrots, and the flour was whole wheat so it was health-food. Oy.)

Actually, I don't know what to say about the icing. I feel like it does need one, but I'm not sure the one I used was the best choice. It was just a lemon buttercream, with lots of lemon juice so it was a bit thin and glaze-like, and I thought it was a bit too sweet and intense for this cake, which is a little on the delicate side. I'm not sure what would be better though. I hate to say it, but maybe a lemony cream cheese icing... ? Actually, the recipe as originally published called for a 9" by 13" pan in a single layer, and perhaps a more thinly applied lemon glaze would work well with that configuration.

This cake went to the pot-luck along with the potato casserole, and my sweetie wanted the picture to contain the rainbows cast by the prisms in the old stained glass window in the Meeting room, so it does. I like that one of them is almost heart-shaped.

Because this was a British recipe, it originally called for some ingredients by weight. I'm including the measures I used and the weights from the original recipe. Since it was so close anyway, I also converted it to gluten-free. My almonds had been in the back of the freezer for a while, so I threw in a 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract to liven them up a little.

8 to 12 servings
1 hour 15 minutes - 40 minutes prep time - not including icing

English Carrot-Almond Cake
4 extra large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar (1/2 pound which is more like 1 1/2 cups)
the grated zest of 1 lemon
2 1/2 cups ground unblanched almonds (1/2 pound)
- (mine were blanched)
2 cups lightly packed finely grated carrots (1/2 pound)
1 tablespoon rice flour
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/8 teaspoon baking powder

Be sure to have the carrots peeled and grated ahead of starting, and in general, all the ingredients ready to go. Line the bottoms of 2 round 8" pans with parchment paper, and butter the pans and paper lightly. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Separate the eggs, putting both whites and yolks into medium sized mixing bowls. Beat the egg whites until stiff.

Add the sugar and lemon zest to the egg yolks in the other bowl, and beat them for 5 minutes with the electric mixer.

Gently fold the almonds and carrots into the egg yolk and sugar mixture. Mix the rice flour and corn starch with the baking powder, and fold that into the mixture. Gently fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.

Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared pans, and smooth it out. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until firm and a toothpick tests clean. Let the cakes cool in the pan before removing to ice and serve. Careful; they are a bit delicate.


Natalie said...

Yum... a dairy and wheat-free carrot cake - Thank you!! I will now be baking this weekend. :-)

Hope you don't mind, I have put a link to your blog from mine. I am a new blogger, dabbling in local food interests. You have a beautiful resource here, thanks for sharing.

Ferdzy said...

I hope you enjoy it, Natalie.

Mind? I'm always honoured when someone links to my blog. I see you are very close geographically; as someone with local food interests as well I imagine we'll run into each other at some point!

Natalie said...

Yes, I imagine we could! We shop weekly at the 100 Mile Market here in Meaford, but have not yet been to the Creemore and Arthur interpretaions - I enjoyed your articles about both.

If you are at the Meaford Farmers Market again this sumer, please swing by the Children's Table - our company sponsors it, and I may just be there making crafts with the kids.

Happy cooking!

Parker said...

That cake looks so pretty.