The outstanding features of this butterless, flourless carrot cake are its consistency—firm, but not leaden, satisfyingly chewy, yet moist; and its flavor—nutty, aromatic, and fresh.
9ouncesshelled, unpeeled almonds
1cup plus2tablespoonsgranulated sugar
9ouncescarrots, peeled and cut up into 1-inch pieces
¼poundladyfingers, made crisp in a 325°F oven for 20 minutes
1teaspooncream of tartar (sold by drugstores as potassium bitartrate) mixed with 1½teaspoonsbicarbonate of soda, or 2½teaspoonsbaking powder
4 large eggs, separated
A 10-inch springform pan
1tablespoonbutter for greasing the pan
Whipped cream topping made with 1cupheavy cream and 1teaspoongranulated sugar (optional)
Turn on the oven to 350°F.
Put the almonds and sugar in a food processor or blender and chop very fine. Transfer to a mixing bowl large enough to accommodate later all the other ingredients.
Chop the carrots as fine as possible in the processor or blender and add to the bowl, mixing them with the almonds.
Break up the ladyfingers into small pieces and chop them in the processor or blender until very fine, then mix with the other ingredients in the bowl.
Add the cream of tartar and bicarbonate mixture or the baking powder together with the liqueur and the salt and mix thoroughly.
Mix the egg yolks with the other ingredients in the bowl.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Take 1 or 2tablespoons of beaten egg white and mix it into the cake batter in the bowl to soften it a bit. Then fold in the remaining egg whites gently.
Grease the bottom of the springform pan with butter and pour in the batter, leveling it without pressing it. (Note: If you are not using a springform pan, line the cake pan with buttered wax paper before pouring in the batter. This will make it easier to remove the cake when baked.)
Place the pan in the uppermost level of the preheated oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Begin checking for doneness after 50 minutes by inserting a knife in the cake. When the blade comes out dry, the cake is done.
When the cake is lukewarm, remove it from the pan. Serve at room temperature, with whipped cream, if desired. If it is not consumed the same day, wrap the cake, when completely cooled, in aluminum foil. It will keep up to a week, without refrigeration.