A typical autumn dessert, this cake looks like an energy bar when sliced. Come to think of it, Tuscan Chestnut Cake is indeed a very healthy treat. Chestnut flour, raisins and nuts – mix them all together and out comes a deliciously nutty, authentic Italian dessert!
Although every region in Italy has their own way of making ‘Castagnaccio’, I am basing this recipe on the Tuscan chestnut cake that I have tried. I’ve also been told that the cake originated from Siena, a part of Tuscany – so making ‘Castagnaccio alla Toscana’ is a win-win. 🙂
I am not exaggerating when I say that it’s VERY easy to make this cake. It REALLY is. It’s almost like one of those ‘1-2-3-done!’ setup. No need for fancy mixing equipment either – a spatula or a wooden spoon would do just fine. However, there are a couple of things that you MUST do to avoid wasting time (and effort).
How to Make Tuscan Chestnut Cake
First, taste the chestnut flour before using it – even if you just opened the package. Chestnut flour, apparently, does not have a long shelf life, compared to other types of flour. How do you know it’s bad? It will taste BITTER. I learned that the hard way. I did not bother tasting the flour (I mean, why would I?!). So, I mixed everything, put it in the oven and cut them into serving sizes. My husband tried it first and then he asked me if I still have some of the flour left. I took the bag, he checked the expiration date (all good), tasted it and told me to do the same. I did and I asked him, ‘is it supposed to be bitter…?’. (I know, NOT my finest moment! 😀 ) I have no idea why it went bad to be honest – too much sun exposure, maybe? But take my word for it, taste it first before mixing with the rest of the ingredients.
Second, do not forget to strain the chestnut flour. This helps in ensuring that you will not have lumps in the mixture once you combine it with water.
You can skip the marsala or vin santo if you want – absolutely nothing wrong in using water to soak the raisins. It’s just my personal preference to use sweet wine for soaking. (Blame it on the season 😉 ).
Tuscan chestnut cake can be eaten after a meal or as a snack between meals. I personally think it goes well with either wine or cappuccino, but, decide for yourself! 🙂
If you are looking for another typical autumn dessert (or another Italian cake!), check out my other post for Tuscan Apple Cake (Torta di mele). It’s another delicious and ‘easy-as-1-2-3’ recipe!
A typical autumn dessert! Chestnut flour, raisins and nuts – mix them all together and out comes a slightly sweet and deliciously authentic Italian dessert!
- 2 & 1/2 cups chestnut flour
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped roughly
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 twigs rosemary leaves
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 & 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp marsala or vin santo (optional)
- 1 cup cold water
- Pre-heat oven to 180°C (350°F).
Soak raisins in the marsala or vin santo. Set aside. NOTE: Water can also be used.
- Strain flour in a bowl. Add cold water and mix. Make sure there are no lumps in the mixture.
Add sugar, oil and salt. Squeeze liquid from the raisins that have been soaked. Add raisins to the mixture. Combine.
- Add pine nuts and walnuts to the mixture. Leave a handful of mixed nuts for sprinkling on top.
Pour mixture on a square or 8-inch round pan. Sprinkle mixed nuts on top. Add rosemary leaves on top as well. Shake the pan a bit to distribute the mixture and nuts evenly.
- Place in the oven for about 20 minutes. It is normal to see cracks on top once the cake is cooked.
- Set aside to cool. Slice.