A couple of years back, her research took my sister-in-law to Italy for close to six months. A delightful time she had, taking every opportunity to explore the country on weekends and holidays, soaking in the sights and smells, savoring the heavenly food and making new friends.
She returned home with a potpourri of cheerful memories, of a gorgeous country, indescribably rich heritage dating back millennia, priceless art and stunning sculpture, Michaelangelos and daVincis, close-knit families and full-of-life people, passionate about football and religious about food.
But what was most appealing to me was a diary she came back with. Replete with scribbled notes. Every time she had had a delectable meal at a friend’s or colleague’s place, she had made it a point to request for the recipe. And had diligently jotted it down. To the last detail.
So here were I, grinning like a cheshire cat, with a diary full of nonna’s recipes, itching to try every single of them.
One of my favorite recipes from the diary is a Venetian carrot cake. Originated in the Jewish kitchens of Renaissance Venice. An olive-oil almond-meal cake with an overload of carrots and an extravagance of almond slivers. Delectable yet doesn’t haunt you with those wicked pangs of calorie guilt.
Venetian Carrot Cake
- 200 g almond meal or ground almonds
- 200 g carrot
- 3 eggs
- 90 ml olive oil
- 100 g coconut sugar
- 50 g almond slivers
- 50 g raisins
- 50 ml spiced rum
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg freshly ground
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Line the base of a loaf tin with baking parchment, grease the sides with olive oil. Keep aside.
- Grate the carrots in a processor or with a coarse grater. Keep on a kitchen towel to soak up the excess liquid. Keep aside.
- Soak the raisins in rum, simmer for a while. Allow to soak for 1 hour.
- Toast the almond slivers lightly. Keep aside.
- In a bowl whisk the oil, vanilla extract and sugar till airy and smooth.
- Add the eggs one by one and beat till fluffy. Fold the almond meal gently with a spatula.
- Now add the grated carrots, soaked raisins (along with the rum), half the almond slices and the grated nutmeg. Mix thoroughly.
- Pour the batter into the greased tin, make the the top smooth with the aid of the spatula. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts over the cake batter.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool down. Slice and serve with or without honey.