I am a big carrot cake fan, and this Italian version is a really fun twist. It's definitely not your usual carrot cake - the carrot flavor is more subtle, and almonds take front stage. Even my dad, a carrot cake-hater, enjoyed this one! I like that this cake feels a little fancier than your usual carrot cake, even though it isn't any more difficult to make. Definitely serve this along side whipped cream or ice cream, as otherwise the cake can get a little dry.
Italian Almond-Carrot Cake (adapted from Vegetable Literacy)
Makes on 9-inch round cake
4 T butter, plus more for the pan
1-1/2 cups finely ground almonds
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
3/4 cup plus 2 T sugar, divided
1-1/4 cups cake flour (or substitute 1 cup + 2 T all-purpose flour and 2 T cornstarch)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1/4 tsp almond extract
Scant 2 cups grated carrots
1. Preheat the oven to 375. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool.
2. Pulse the almonds in a food processor with the lemons and sugar.
3. Butter a 9-inch springform pan or fluted cake pan with a removable bottom. Line the bottom with parchment, butter it, and then lightly dust the inside of the pan with a little of the almond mixture.
4. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
5. Beat together the eggs with the remaining 3/4 cup sugar until pale, foamy, and thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and add the remaining almond mixture along with the almond extract. Beat in the flour mixture on low speed. Pour in the melted butter, and fold it in with a rubber spatula. Fold in the carrots.
6. Scrape the batter into the pan, smooth on top, and bake until springy to the touch and lightly browned, about 35 minutes. Let cool in the pan before carefully removing the cake and serving.