Let them eat…tzimmes? A stew inspired cake with sweet potatoes, carrots, walnuts and boozy soaked raisins. Let’s call it Carrot Sweet Potato Cake for short!
One traditional dish for the sweet New Year of Rosh Hashanah and the harvest festival of Sukkot is tzimmes (pronounced tsim-iss). Easier to eat than to say, I promise!
The saccharine stew of Eastern European roots is often made with carrots, sweet potatoes and dried fruits such as raisins or prunes. It can be delicious, though it is often called out for being mushy and overly syrupy.
According to Reform Judaism magazine, tzimmes originated in medieval Germany, where fruit, vegetable and meat stews were commonplace. Cooks incorporated the sweet potato centuries later, after it made its way to Eastern Europe from the Americas. The side dish we all know and love, started to take shape. After immigrants brought the dish to America, they sugared it up with an extra dose of sweet.
So as it turns out, tzimmes wasn’t always so sweet, just another dish adjusted to American tastes. You’re welcome, rest of the world. So when remixing this classic, I decided to go with those qualities instead of fight it, and intensify it into a cake.
The carrots and sweet potatoes make the cake super moist, and chunks of booze soaked raisins (yay) and walnuts add texture and lots of cinnamon and a hint of ginger add favor. I covered the whole thing with a cream cheese glaze, because no one stopped me, and to make your new year extra sweet.
Tzimmes means “making a fuss” in Yiddish, which makes sense when you think about it. All that vegetable scrubbing and peeling and chopping and long slow cooking. It’s a bit fussy! But this cake is easy. I didn’t even have to break out my hand mixer!
- For cake:
- Butter or oil to grease the pan
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup Amaretto or your favorite liquor
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup sour cream (can use dairy free)
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ cup cooked sweet potato (from one small sweet potato)
- 2 eggs, room temperature, whisked
- 1 cup shredded carrots (about 2 carrots)
- ½ cup walnuts or pecans, chopped, plus more for garnish
- For glaze:
- ½ block (4 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature (can use dairy free)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 2-3 tbs. milk (can use dairy free)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 10 or 12-cup Bundt pan with butter or oil and set aside.
- Combine raisins with Amaretto. Let marinate for 30 minutes, then drain and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt.
- In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, granulated sugar, sour cream, oil, orange juice, and vanilla. Then mix in sweet potato. Then add in eggs one at a time. Mix until uniform and most of the lumps are out. Then stir in carrots, nuts and the amaretto-soaked raisins. Gradually add in flour mixture, stirring until just combined.
- Pour batter into the Bundt pan and bake for about 60 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan, and then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
- To make glaze, mix together cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon using a wooden spoon or electric mixer. Add in milk until you get a runny but thick glaze. Drizzle all over cooled cake and garnish with more nuts.
This recipe was originally featured on The Jewish Week!