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Castagnaccio (Tuscan chestnut cake)

  • Castagnaccio (Tuscan chestnut cake)

    Castagnaccio, also known as baldino or pattona chestnut cake, is a traditional dessert made with chestnut flour and raisins, pine nuts, walnuts, and rosemary. It is said to have been created in a plain form by the Tuscan Pilade da Lucca in the 16th century, although it only gained popularity outside of Tuscany 300 years later, when it was refined with the addition of raisins, pine nuts and rosemary. As it’s naturally gluten and lactose free, this cake appeals to the modern palate not only for its historic significance but also for catering to many different dietary needs.

    About the chef:
    This recipe was kindly shared with us by Cinzia Malgeri, one of the chefs we collaborate with to provide unique Tuscan culinary experiences at our villas. Each family has their own recipe for castagnaccio and this is hers!

    Serves: 8-14
    Cooking time: 50 min

    500 g (4 cups) chestnut flour
    650 ml (2 ¾ cups) water
    100 g (½ cup) pine nuts
    1 sprig rosemary
    80 g (3 oz) raisins
    100 g (½ cup) walnut kernels
    5 tbsp olive oil
    1 tsp salt

    Preheat the oven to 195° C.
    Wash the raisins in fresh water and soak them in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes to rehydrate them. Coarsely chop the walnut kernels with a knife, then peel off the fresh rosemary needles.
    Sift the chestnut flour into a large bowl and add the water a little at a time, stirring with a hand whisk. When the mixture is smooth and homogeneous, add the chopped walnuts and whole pine nuts, making sure to set a small amount aside that will later be used on top of the cake before baking.
    After 10 minutes, squeeze and pat the raisins dry with some kitchen roll, then add them to the mixture, adding a small amount at a time; mix well and add salt.
    Oil a 12 inch (32 cm) low, round cake tin and pour in the mixture, levelling it with a spatula. Sprinkle the surface of the cake with the pine nuts, walnuts and raisins set aside earlier, distributing them evenly.
    Lastly, add the rosemary needles, a drizzle of oil, and bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes. When you can see cracks on the surface and the nuts have a nice golden colour, take the cake out. When cool, serve and enjoy the castagnaccio.

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