Castagnaccio

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Castagnaccio is chestnut flour, rosemary, pine nuts, dried fruit, dense, rustic Italian cake. Autumnal Italian classic!

Castagnaccio is chestnut flour, rosemary, pine nuts, dried fruit, dense, rustic Italian cake. Autumnal Italian classic!


 

If you prefer experiencing different tastes and flavours, especially desserts with low sugar, this Castagnaccio recipe is the one you are looking for.

Tuscans don’t use a lot of sugar to make their desserts. Besides, this one looks more like a dense pancake than cake but that’s exactly how the cakes looked like centuries ago in rural parts of Tuscany, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna and Lombardia as for Italy. This chestnut flour cake is known since the sixteenth century. It’s name was “wooden bread”( Pane di Bosco) since the chestnut trees grow in the woods.

 

The best season to make chestnut cake is autumn since it’s the season of chestnuts and related festivals. Besides, chestnuts were staple food for centuries until World War II.

How to serve Castagnaccio?

Traditionally, chestnut flour cake is served with Ricotta, honey, and Vin Santo. Heaven for cold days of autumn!

 

Earthy, nutty flavours with some rosemary needles, roasted pine nuts and walnuts make surprisingly tasty version of festive cake.
Once done, it doesn’t look like festive cakes we are used to: creamy, dreamy chocolate cake or recipes loaded with fruits, depending on what you and your family love, of course. It looks more like rustic, unsophisticated cocoa pie.

 

The colour is brownish because of some bitter cocoa added but what you taste is chestnut with a hint of dark rum and fresh rosemary. My version includes little amount of brown sugar and raisins.

Castagnaccio is chestnut flour, rosemary, pine nuts, dried fruit, dense, rustic Italian cake. Autumnal Italian classic!

 

We make chestnut desserts quite often during autumn and winter and I made a list of no bake rolls, soups, and festive cakes to publish but fresh chestnut paste is not available since all pasty and coffee shops are closed and I cannot get any.

 

What I hope is to get some at the markets while shopping for holidays. There just may be some in their freezers and if I got that lucky I’ll make some stocks so I could enjoy sharing chestnut beauties with you!
Until then, let’s enjoy chestnut flour delicacies since I spotted a bag ( 400 grams ) in local organic food shop still opened for business.

 

Chestnut flour belongs to Tuscan „cucina povera“ that is everything but poor. „Poor people dishes“ were saving peasants from starving in central Italia few centuries ago.
„Cucina povera“ ingredients are simple, traditional, home grown, healthy, rich in taste and nutritious.

 

Tuscan chestnut flour was, and still is, made by drying and milling roasted chestnuts in millstones to get fine powdered flour for breads, gnocchi, and soups.
This beautiful Castagnaccio cake is just one of the beautiful Mediterranean recipes made of simple gifts of Mother Nature.

 

5 from 5 votes
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Castagnaccio

Castagnaccio is chestnut flour, rosemary, pine nuts, dried fruit, dense, rustic Italian cake. Autumnal Italian classic!

Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Castagnaccio
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 43 minutes
Servings 8 slices

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup chestnut flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp bitter cocoa powder + for dusting ( to taste )
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2/3 cup raisins + 2 Tbsp dark rum
  • 1/3 cup roasted pine nuts + 1 Tbsp to garnish
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 spring fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
  • Bitter cocoa powder to dust the cake, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 356 F.

  2. Oil rounded pan ( 9 inches diameter ) and leave aside.

  3. Combine raising and rum to soak for a few minutes.

  4. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients : chestnut flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa and salt.

  5. In another medium sized bowl, whisk oil, honey, eggs and milk. Add raisins, chopped walnuts and pine nuts. Leave 1 Tbsp aside to garnish once baked.

  6. Combine dry and wet ingredients. Whisk them together with fork.

  7. Pour the batter into the rounded pan and bake for 35 minutes.

  8. Cool completely before removing from the pan.

  9. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and garnish with chopped rosemary before serving.

 

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