A classic Italian castagnaccio with a hint of chocolate
This recipe for castagnaccio is truly one of my favourite recipes. It is extremely easy and quick to make, incredibly tasty, naturally healthy and sugar free. Besides, it offers endless possibilities for variations and looks extremely original as well. The bitter-sweet taste of chestnut makes you want to eat more and more of this cake!
More than 400 years of history
Simply put, castagnaccio is an Italian chestnut cake, with a history tracing back to the 16th century. It is, what they would call in Italian, a “piatto povero”, a “poor dish”. Once chestnuts formed the cornerstone of the diet of the poorest people in the Apennines. Even though it wasn’t very popular for centuries, castagnaccio has been increasingly popular especially in Italy since the Second World War.
Nuts, dried fruits, spices: plenty of possible combinations
Most recipes for castagnaccio feature chestnut flour, water and a combination of nuts, dried fruits and spices such as rosemary. The best thing about it is that most recipes are completely sugar free because chestnut has a beautiful aromatic sweet taste of its own.
In my recipe I use walnuts, raisins, cocoa and rosemary. Feel free to leave the cocoa and rosemary out, and replace the walnuts with hazelnuts, pine nuts or pecans, or to experiment and make a version of your own.
Just increase the amounts proportionally if you want a bigger size cake.
Where to buy chestnut flour?
Chestnut flour can be bought at some organic stores or over the internet. It is slightly pricey but even 250 gram (2,5 cups) of chestnut flour makes you a decent size cake. In this sense, it is still the “poor” but tasty and nutritious dish it has always been known as.
Castagnaccio with cocoa, raisins and walnuts
An extremely easy to make and tasty castagnaccio with cocoa, raisins and walnuts
Leave the raisins to soak in a bit of warm water for a couple of minutes. Grease a round springform pan or cake tin with olive oil or coconut oil. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius (390 F)
Put the chestnut flour in a bowl, preferably with a sieve to prevent lumps from forming. Add the water little by little, stirring constantly with a spatula, again to prevent lumps from forming. You can also do this step with a food processor, blender or mixer.
Remove the raisins from the water, dry them off a little bit and add 2/3 of them to the dough.
Cut especially bigger walnuts and hazelnuts in little pieces and add 2/3 of the them to your dough.
Put the dough into a grased tin. Distribute the raisins and nuts you have left and rosemary on top of the dough.
Bake your castagnaccio for about 30 minutes. When it's ready, you will see typical cracks on top of the castagnaccio. Depending on your oven and the thickness of your dough it can be that your castagnaccio will need 5-10 minutes more.