Tzimmes Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 1 (9 × 13-inch) sheet cake
Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus cooling time
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Carrot cake, but make it Jewish! The classic Ashkenazi spiced side of stewed carrots, sweet potatoes, and prunes always deserved to be turned into a dessert, and it just works so well. Grated carrots and sweet potato provide so much moisture to the cinnamon-and-orange-zest-scented batter, while chopped prunes add a fudgy quality that I’ll choose any day over raisins. And, in my very best Mommie Dearest voice, “NO NUTS IN MY CAKE.” I’m partial to the soft texture being uninterrupted, but I won’t be too mad if you feel strongly about throwing in some chopped walnuts. The cake is finished with a swoosh of luscious cream cheese frosting, though the cake itself is dairy-free so you can also take your topping in a pareve direction. The biggest takeaway should be that it stays moist for days in the fridge so you can always prepare it ahead. And if you’re looking for a standout host gift, my power move is to bring one of these cakes baked in a new fancy ceramic baking dish to leave behind for an extra sweet memento.
For the Carrot Cake
Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing
1 cup olive oil
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1 cup packed (213g) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 cups (270g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 pound carrots, coarsely grated
8 ounces (1 medium) sweet potato, coarsely grated
½ cup chopped prunes
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Make the carrot cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 × 13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs until smooth. Add the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Gently stir together the dry ingredients piled above the wet ingredients a few times before folding together into a smooth batter. Fold in the carrots, sweet potato, prunes, and orange zest until incorporated. Pour into the prepared baking dish and spread in an even layer.
- Bake the cake for 40 to 50 minutes, until golden brown and it reaches an internal temperature of 190°F. (Timing is going to depend on the moisture content of your carrots and sweet potatoes, so while on average it takes me 45 minutes, occasionally the proper internal temperature is reached after 40 minutes, so that is when I start checking.) Let cool completely in the dish.
- Meanwhile, make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip together the cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt until light and fluffy.
- Spread the frosting over the cooled cake, then slice and serve. Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Jake Cohen is a NYT Bestselling cookbook author and nice Jewish boy from NYC. A former food staffer at Saveur, food editor of Tasting Table, restaurant critic of Time Out New York, and editorial director of the Feedfeed, Jake wrote his first book, Jew-ish, about his love of modern Jewish cooking and baking. When he isn’t contributing to outlets like Food Network Kitchen, Food52, and Food & Wine, he’s posting challah-braiding videos and recipes on his Instagram and TikTok (@jakecohen). He lives in NYC with his husband, Alex.