Castagnaccio (Italian Chestnut Cake)

By • October 31, 2010 • 33 Comments

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Author Notes: Autumn is not arrived yet if you haven’t had a slice of castagnaccio. It’s the cake of our childhood evenings, the one our grandmothers and mothers made for our afternoon snacks. Castagnaccio is a traditional Tuscan autumn cake made with chestnut flour, water and olive oil. Just like Pan con l’Uva, it’s a humble and simple dessert – the poor man’s cake – originated in the Apennines where chestnuts (plentiful in that area) were the primary diet of farmers and peasants.

It is basically made by combining chestnut flour and water till you have a smooth mixture which is then baked in the oven. Chestnut flour is naturally sweet, so it is unnecessary to add sugar, but other ingredients can be added, generally rosemary, pine kernels, raisins and nuts. - Rita Banci
Rita Banci

Food52 Review: This simple cake is delicious. The batter is only chestnut flour and water -- no added sugar or leaveners. The result is a dense cake with both the taste and texture of a roasted chestnut. I like that Rita Banci mixes raisins in the batter to sweeten each bite. The nuts on top also add a nice roasted crunch. This is great recipe for people, like me, who sometimes crave the natural sweetness of nuts and fruit. Note: I followed the recipe using 1 and 1/2 cups of water, adding a mix of raisins and currants, and baking at 350°F for 30 minutes in a 14x4-inch rectangular tart pan. - monkeymomThe Editors

Serves many

  • 8.8 ounces chestnut flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1.4 ounces walnuts
  • 0.7 ounces pinenuts
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • extravergine olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. In a bowl combine chestnut flour and water; stir till you have a smooth mixture (neither too thick not too runny). To be sure not to make the mixture too liquid, add water a little at a time. You may need more or less water than 1 1/2 cup, so be careful, because this is a very important step. Stir in 2/3 cup of raisins.
  2. Grease a baking pan with a little oil and pour the chestnut mixture. Sprinkle the top with rosemary, pinenuts, walnuts and the remaining raisins. Drizzle some extra oil and bake for about 30 minutes. Castagnaccio is ready when the surface cracks.
Jump to Comments (33)

Tags: fall, Tuscan

Comments (33) Questions (1)

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about 4 years ago fortyniner

I am just googling where to buy Chestnut Flour here in Sydney, think I am going to have to try the Italian delis perhaps and then it will be full speed ahead with this recipe. Definitely looks like my type of comfort food!

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about 4 years ago Nora

One of the pictures makes this look as if there is chocolate involved, but the photo with the recipe, and the recipe, are strictly non-choc. I'm wondering, is there a chocolate version? Please?

Monkeys

about 4 years ago monkeymom

Hi Nora, there isn't any chocolate involved in the traditional recipe. The chestnut flour mixed with water in my picture turned out darker than what Rita showed in her picture perhaps. Maybe Rita or someone else will know of a chocolate version!

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about 4 years ago Rita Banci

@ Nora: Well, I don't know of a chocolate version, but if you're curious I think you can try to add some cocoa powder to the batter (I can't say how much cocoa powder, though - I think you have to experiment).

@ monkeymom: thanks for your comments! Your picture is amazing, really! It looks even tastier! ;-)

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about 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I'd just add whole chocolate chips to the batter, if I wanted chocolate in this. (I did the same thing, for the first time, with Mr T's pecan pie this week, and it was amazing.) ;o)

Moi

about 4 years ago Sally

Rita, I can't wait to try this. I already have some chestnut flour and a friend who would love a gluten free dessert. It is truly unique!

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about 4 years ago Rita Banci

Thank you Sally! I hope you enjoy it!

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about 4 years ago msgruvn

this was wonderful!! i am making it again for t day with friends...not too sweet-we can get chestnut flour in anchorage at natural pantry grocery store, and we have a small italian store that also sells it i believe.

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about 4 years ago Rita Banci

Wow! Hope you're enjoying this cake for Thanksgiving! Let me know how it comes out! ;D

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about 4 years ago FrozenFoodie

Thanks so much for sharing. I've gone gluten free, so I'm on the look out for recipes like this. Yum!

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about 4 years ago Rita Banci

I've never thought this could be a gluten-free recipe, but now that I come to think of it, it's true!! Good to know. Thanks for noticing!

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about 4 years ago julie_chicago

Rita: Thank you for answering my questions. I'm crazy about chestnuts this time of year:)

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about 4 years ago julie_chicago

Rita Banci, I have questions: It looks like there are pieces of chestnut on top in the photo. Are you including those in 1.4 oz. nuts? It looks like you have walnuts and pinenuts on there too. Is that correct? Also what size baking pan do you use? It looks so wonderful, I want to make mine just like your photo! Thank you.

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about 4 years ago Rita Banci

The chestnuts you see in the background are just decorative. Only chestnut flour is used. As for the 1.4 oz nuts, I meant walnuts (sorry, I wasn't correct... I'll fix it!). And yes, there are 0.7 oz pinenuts, too. Walnuts, pinenuts, raisins and rosemary must be placed on top (but I mix some raisins in the castagnaccio mixture, too, because I like it best). I used a 7.5" x 10.5" pan. Thanks to you for asking!

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about 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Genova, a deli / excellent Italian grocery in Oakland (Telegraph - Temescal area), sells chestnut flour. I bought some, for this recipe, which I hope to try this weekend or perhaps over T-Day weekend, depending on client work. ;o)

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about 4 years ago lapadia

FYI to those of you who live around Seattle: DeLaurenti’s @ Pike Place Public Maket carries chestnut flour year round!

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about 4 years ago Rita Banci

Really? You should all place an order: This DeLaurenti would be happy... :P

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about 4 years ago Rita Banci

@lapadia: what a pity it's unavailable! Who knows, maybe other sites sell it... :D

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about 4 years ago lapadia

FYI...found chestnut flour at Amazon.com:
http://www.amazon.com/Pastacheese...

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about 4 years ago lapadia

oops...however it is unavailable at the moment

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about 4 years ago luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

http://www.chestnutsonline...
this is the web site for a family farm in the northwest that is a source for all things chestnut,including wine stoppers, chestnut knives, chestnut roasting pans, and chestnut bowls!! they are also sold out of chestnut flour right now... may have been flooded with orders after publication of this recipe? :)

Moi

about 4 years ago Sally

I love the simplicity and tradition of this recipe. After all, Thanksgiving is full of tradition, new and old. I am going to try this, thanks.

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about 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Mmmmm. Sounds so luscious and tasty, despite its humble origins. I hope you enter this in the contest this week, even if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving!! ;o)

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about 4 years ago Rita Banci

Already entered! ;P And well, we even celebrate Thanksgiving with the so-called "friends of the turkey" (we meet every year for Thanksgiving and have our roasted turkey all together, even if we aren't American). :D

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about 4 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Splendid! I had to organize a Thanksgiving dinner for a group of American college students, while living in Florence many years ago. I was the teaching assistant on the program, with many interesting responsibilities. The most passionate members of the group on the subject of Thanksgiving were the Italian Americans (both were boys) from Staten Island and Brooklyn, who really didn't care if we got and served a turkey, as long as we made enormous pans of baked ziti, according to their mothers' recipes. I loved turning those boys loose on that all-important Thanksgiving dish, which they executed beautifully, by the way. ;o)

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about 4 years ago Rita Banci

Wow, thank you all! I hope you can try it: it's so easy that even my husband can make it (and he can't cook...).

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about 4 years ago Midge

This looks so delicious. Will look around for chestnut flour.

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about 4 years ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

Wow this look great!

Birthday_2012

about 4 years ago luvcookbooks

Meg is a trusted home cook.

read a great book that included chestnut flour
The Lost Ravioli Recipe of Hoboken
author traveled to Italy in pursuit of a ravioli recipe and also found roasted chestnut flour

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about 4 years ago lapadia

Saved this recipe, will be perfect to have on hand this holiday season! Love your recipes! btw-I believe chestnut can be found :)

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about 4 years ago Rita Banci

Many thanks to you both! By the way, can you find chestnut flour in US? I'm afraid it's such an Italian thing... :(

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about 4 years ago dymnyno

Ditto! thanks for a great sounding recipe...nice photo, too.