Italian Chestnut Cake Recipe – Castagnaccio from Tuscany
Have you ever heard of the Italian chestnut cake? It’s called castagnaccio and it’s a traditional recipe from Tuscany; exactly like most of the Italian traditional recipes such as the focaccia with grapes, it was born as a poor dish to use the products that were available at home.
The main ingredient of the castagnaccio is chestnut flour that can be more or less ground.
One of the peculiarities of this Italian chestnut cake is the presence of rosemary that gives the cake a sweet and unique flavor.
The traditional version of the chestnut cake does not include milk nor butter nor eggs but just water to allow the flour to be mixed correctly; as with every traditional recipe, also this chestnut cake is subjected to revisions and corrections that vary from family to family.
Since chestnut flour is sweet enough, no sugar is needed; as far as the amount of water, the grain of the flour should be considered, so if you use poorly ground chestnut flour you may need a larger quantity of water than it is in my recipe, where I use the classic chestnut flour instead.
Ingredients for a medium tray
- 300 grams of chestnut flour
- 30 grams of raisins
- 40 grams of pine nuts
- 350 ml of cold water
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Rosemary needles
- Toast the pine nuts in a pan and in the meantime soften the sultanas in cold water. Squeeze the raisins and remove the pine nuts from the pan.
- Sift the chestnut flour and, in a bowl, add water slowly at a time by stirring continuously until the mixture will not be too liquid (if it is too hard, add more water to the need).
- Add pine nuts and raisins to the dough and mix well.
- Grease the pan with oil then pour the dough inside of it and level it well with the back of a spoon.
- Sprinkle with rosemary needles, possibly with other pine nuts and add a few drops of oil on the surface. Bake at 200° for 35-40 minutes, until the surface will be golden and cracked.
Preparation time: 1 hour
How to make a perfect castagnaccio at home
- The temperature of the oven must be calibrated according to your oven: if you know that your oven will heat up a lot, reduce the temperature so that the chestnut cake won’t burn. Similarly, if your oven struggles to heat up, you need to raise the temperature to the maximum so that the chestnut flour will have enough time to get baked evenly.
- Knead the flour by hand, never using a robot: only in this way you will get the right texture and you can adjust the water where necessary.
- It is necessary to use a maximum 2 cm baking tray because according to tradition the chestnut cake cannot be more than 1 cm high.
- To prepare a chestnut cake very similar to the one you can find in Tuscany, it is necessary to add half a glass of oil to the dough: in this way, you will get a sufficiently thick mixture which, when cooked, will become quite oily.