Tzimmes cakes, muffins and desserts pop-up in community cookbooks, cooking blogs and even on the popular Food Network competition show “Chopped.” It’s not surprising — American tzimmes is often sweet, made with many of the ingredients that can be found in a classic carrot cake — like carrots, cinnamon and dried fruit. And tzimmes is just one dish in a longstanding Ashkenazi tradition of sides and desserts made from carrots, like carrot rings, kugels and carrot puddings.
Growing up, tzimmes was served for special occasions; it was always made with simmered, very soft carrots, with orange juice concentrate mixed in. At Thanksgiving, sweet potatoes were swapped for carrots, making for a non-traditional, very Ashkenazi side dish at the table. As I began hosting Jewish holidays at my own table, my tzimmes recipe evolved over the years to include carrots drizzled with honey, tossed with ginger and cardamom, studded with dates, and roasted in the oven to give the dish more texture and caramelization. This recipe takes my favorite version of tzimmes and turns it into a simple one-bowl cake, with no special equipment or complicated techniques required. Think of it as a cross between honey cake and carrot cake, with an Ashkenazi twist. Of course, it’s perfect for Rosh Hashanah, but in my house it’s a year-round treat.
Combining both sweet potato and carrot results in a slightly lighter texture than pure carrot, and there’s a burst of welcome tartness from the addition of dried cherries that rounds out the sweetness of honey and warming spices. You can top this dairy-free cake with powdered sugar or a simple glaze, if desired.
Note: This tzimmes cake tastes even better the next day, and lasts up to five days stored covered at room temperature.
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup honey
- ⅓ cup orange juice
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1¾ cup (230 g) all-purpose flour
- 1¼ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp cardamom (optional)
- 1 cup (150 g) shredded carrot, packed
- 1 cup (100 g) shredded sweet potato, packed
- ¼ cup dried tart cherries
- ¼ cup chopped prunes, raisins or currants
- powdered sugar for topping (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 9” springform pan (or 9” cake pan) with parchment. You can also use a bundt or loaf pan, but baking times may be slightly longer.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, olive oil, sugar, honey, orange juice, orange zest, fresh ginger and vanilla extract.
- Into the same bowl, using a mesh sieve or flour sifter, add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and cardamom. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, stir until the dry and wet ingredients are just combined; be careful not to overmix.
- Add the shredded carrot, shredded sweet potato and dried fruit to the bowl. Fold the vegetables and fruit into the batter until just combined and evenly distributed.
- Transfer the batter to the greased and lined pan, and bake for 40 minutes, or until a small skewer or cake tester comes out clean.
- Cool and top with powdered sugar or a simple glaze, if desired.