Everyone loves Italian food and the food in Tuscany is considered to be some of the best of all the regions of Italy. Castagnaccio is a plain, chestnut flour cake which is typical in the Tuscany. Chestnuts are harvested in autumn and the cake appears on Tuscan tables throughout the colder months. It is a savory cake that is a wonderful way to end a Tuscan meal. The cake is made from chestnut flour, pine nuts, rosemary and raisins with the addition of olive oil or course! It has no sugar, yeast or baking powder.
This cake is an excellent example of traditional Tuscan food which is simple and inexpensive. Chestnuts are plentiful in Tuscany. In ancient times the bounty prevented hunger for many a poor Tuscan. A romantic legend tells that the Rosemary used to give flavor to Castagnaccio is a powerful elixir of love.
Castagnaccio cake is best served with ricotta cheese, honey or sweet wine. Join us in Tuscany to experience the true flavors of Tuscan cuisine!
Here's a modern recipe:
2 ounces raisins
16 ounces sweet chestnut flour
2 tablespoons sugar
Zest of 1/2 orange
2 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for pan
1 fresh rosemary sprig, leaves picked
1 ounce chopped walnuts
1 ounce pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the raisins in water to soften for 20 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, sift the chestnut flour. Add the sugar, orange zest, and pinch of salt, mix well and then gently start adding the water to the mix.
Using an electric hand mixer, beat the mixture well making sure to eliminate any lumps, then add 2 tablespoons olive oil, and half of the raisins and mix again.
Lightly oil an 11-inch pie plate with 2-inch sides with olive oil and pour in the batter it should be no more than 1/3-inch thick. Sprinkle the cake with rosemary leaves, the remaining softened raisins, walnuts, and pine nuts. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and bake for about 40 minutes.
Don't expect this cake to rise! It is supposed to come out of the oven flat since there is no yeast in the recipe.
Join us for a tour of Tuscany or a workshop in Tuscany and enjoy some Castagnaccio with us!