CARROT CAKE RECIPE No 3 ~ Nigella Lawson's Venetian Carrot Cake

Venetian Carrot Cake Recipe by Nigella Lawson from the Food Network website

I have no idea whether Venetians ever make carrot cakes. I strongly suspect Nigella has taken her usual ladle full of liberties. That said the result is certainly Italian in style. It uses Olive Oil rather than butter or margarine, and has sweetened mascapone as a side accompaniment. The recipe itself is full of faffy touches like patting your grated carrots gently dry between double layers of kitchen towels, dry toasting your pine nuts and simmering your sultanas in rum. Though I assure you that it is well worth it. I made this cake for Jnansalin's birthday so I was hoping for something special and was not disappointed.

Of the reviews on the website, some absolutely loved this recipe, others were either a bit sniffy or distinctly underwhelmed. What appeared to make a difference was how closely they stuck to the original recipe. At first its better to do a recipe as close to how its presented, otherwise its not a Nigella recipe is it? That said even I had to make some substitutions. I couldn't find even the smallest bottle of rum, or rum essence in Sheringham this side of Christmas, so I settled for the Napoleon Brandy we already had. This was a shame as I think rum would be an even better flavour companion in a carrot cake. This recipe is gluten free, substituting flour with almond meal. I used ground almonds which are almost the same thing, just lacking bits of the outer husk. As a cake recipe, with three eggs, its not remotely vegan I'm afraid.

Nigella is never one to stint on the quantity of her ingredients, and this has ground almonds thrown in by the truckload, and the hailstorm of toasted pine nuts on the top really does enhance the flavour of the cake. The recipe suggests 30-40 minutes cooking time at 180 C. I left it for 35 minutes which was a little too long because, in my oven at least, the edges got over browned a fraction. So check after 20-25 minutes how its progressing.

Now I feel a bit torn here, because this blog is dedicated to finding the best carrot cakes, in recipe form or cafes. So far I've taken quite a puritanical traditionalist approach in my assessments, and this ,as a carrot cake, does not fall within the English tradition. Yet, for all her mischievous flouncing, a really good Nigella recipe can often be unbeatable, and in this case its an extremely successful and delicious one too. Venetian Carrot Cake is a gloriously golden fusion of elements of Panforte, frangipani and a carrot cake.

This recipe does have a couple of grated carrots in it, but I estimate it was not more than 200g, To taste strongly of carrot a traditional carrot cake would earn its place in foodie heaven if it had well over 350g. It might be worth upping the carrot quantity in this recipe to see what the result is like. But then why spoil the balance of what is already an really excellent continental twist on a carrot cake?



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