Castagnaccio (Italian Chestnut Cake)

October 31, 2010
1 Ratings
  • Serves many
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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. - monkeymom —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Valerie Vavrik
    Valerie Vavrik
  • Nora
  • Sally
  • FrozenFoodie
  • AntoniaJames
I'm a professional textile conservator with a strong passion for cooking, gardening, drawing and writing. Since my baby boy was born in May 2010, I feel so much more enthusiastic about life and creativity. That's why I decided to create my own blog, after so many years spent checking out those of other food bloggers. And though time is never enough (being a mother and a wife is really demanding!!) I keep on cooking for my beloved husband and taking care of my garden with all the love and patience I have.

37 Reviews

Hilary M. August 11, 2020
This is a simple and delicious recipe. I started making this cake a year ago, I had confiscated a bag of the flour designated to be thrown out from a kitchen i was working in, and one day, pulled it out of my pantry and got to work. Very nice. I prefer the hazelnuts to pine nuts actually, and prefer the water to the milk- sometimes its made with milk, though difference seems to only be visual. Darker w water. So, I have not made it for a while but need something gluten free, slightly sweet and cozy for breakfast tomorrow, so whipping another one up tonight. I make mine without sugar, the raisens and nuts do the job.
Hilary M. January 1, 2020
Wow. Just made this for a new years day party tomorrow. I just took it out o the oven and tried a sliver and its delicious. I was inspired by some chestnut flour that I somehow acquired that had been waiting in my pantry to be used. . The recipe on the package asked for milk instead of water, but I decided to make my first one according Rita's recipe, with water only. I also added a pinch of salt, but there were absolutely no pine nuts to be found- I searched out Trader Joes, World Market and a lebanese market...pine nuts in Marin are delivered on WEdnesdays. Xmass this year was Wed and tomorrow , new year's day is Wednesday, so no pine nuts- I used hazelnuts. Super good. Next time will try the milk. Maybe that will be tomorrow evening.
Valerie V. December 5, 2017
Nuts.com carries chestnut flour and tons of other wonderful gluten-free flours and lower glycemic index sweet options (and of course nuts)
laila November 25, 2015
I’m in southern California and found Italian chestnut flour on the shelf in Whole Foods. This is a chain across the U.S.

I’m letting my flour and water mixture sit for a while (saw half a day was recommended in a recipe book) and hope it turns out! I’ve got 1 kg flour to 3 liters (96 oz.) water and can’t imagine how this is going to fit into a single cake tin! Pictures I’ve seen online show a thin Castagnaccio; I wonder if that’s just due to regional differences. The recipe I followed has essentially the same ingredients as yours. Wish me luck!
fortyniner November 28, 2010
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!
Nora November 27, 2010
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?
monkeymom November 28, 2010
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!
Rita B. November 28, 2010
@ 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! ;-)
AntoniaJames November 28, 2010
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)
Sally November 26, 2010
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!
Rita B. November 28, 2010
Thank you Sally! I hope you enjoy it!
msgruvn November 20, 2010
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.
Rita B. November 25, 2010
Wow! Hope you're enjoying this cake for Thanksgiving! Let me know how it comes out! ;D
FrozenFoodie November 20, 2010
Thanks so much for sharing. I've gone gluten free, so I'm on the look out for recipes like this. Yum!
Rita B. November 20, 2010
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!
julie_chicago November 19, 2010
Rita: Thank you for answering my questions. I'm crazy about chestnuts this time of year:)
julie_chicago November 18, 2010
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.
Rita B. November 19, 2010
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!
AntoniaJames November 16, 2010
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)
lapadia November 15, 2010
FYI to those of you who live around Seattle: DeLaurenti’s @ Pike Place Public Maket carries chestnut flour year round!
Rita B. November 16, 2010
Really? You should all place an order: This DeLaurenti would be happy... :P
Rita B. November 10, 2010
@lapadia: what a pity it's unavailable! Who knows, maybe other sites sell it... :D
lapadia November 9, 2010
FYI...found chestnut flour at Amazon.com:
lapadia November 9, 2010
oops...however it is unavailable at the moment
luvcookbooks November 10, 2010
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? :)
Sally November 9, 2010
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.
AntoniaJames November 8, 2010
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)
Rita B. November 8, 2010
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
AntoniaJames November 8, 2010
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)
Rita B. November 7, 2010
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...).
Midge November 7, 2010
This looks so delicious. Will look around for chestnut flour.
Loves F. November 6, 2010
Wow this look great!