Castagnaccio Recipe

Whisperings from the days of the Etruscans…

This is a traditional, ancient cake, that is found throughout the land of the Etruscans…through most of Italy and Corsica.  Today it is most commonly found in the South of Italy, in Tuscany, and in parts of the North where there are still hillsides blanketed with chestnut trees.  The baking powder lightens it somewhat, and it has a nice thin crust on the outside and a pleasant crumb.  It carries the flavour of autumn in every bite.

Nowadays, every region of Italy now has its own version. You will find variations to lighten the cake using 50:50 plain flour and chestnut flour, the substitution of lemon for orange, the presence of eggs, rosemary.

  • 400 g of Chestnut flour
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 50 g of dark chocolate powder
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 400 ml of milk
  • 50 g of caster sugar
  • 20 ml of rum
  • 30 ml of olive oil
  • 50 g of raisins
  • 60 g of pine nuts
  • 1 tea glass of water

Preheat the oven to 160°C.  Soak the raisins in the water for 5 minutes.  Butter and flour a wide tart tin, of about 25 cm across and about 2 cm deep.

Mix the dry ingredients together.  Add the liquids, zest, and stir.  Drain the raisins and add them too.  Mix thoroughly.  Spoon the mix out into the prepared pan.

Bake the castagnaccio in the centre of the oven for 40 minutes, until taking colour.  Let cool five minutes on a wire rack before unmoulding (onto one plate then the other).


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