Castagnaccio (Italian Chestnut Cake)

By Rita Banci
October 31, 2010
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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.

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