Castagnaccio (locally also known as baldino, ghirighio or pattona) is a plain chestnut flour cake, typically found in the Tuscany, Liguria, Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna regions of Italy, and in the French island of Corsica.
It is a typically autumnal dessert, made by a dough of chestnut, water, olive oil, pine nuts, and raisins, and baked. Local variations may include other ingredients, such as rosemary, orange rind, fennel seeds, and other dried fruit. There are also variations on the thickness of the cake, and specific names are sometimes used locally to refer to such variations. For example, in Livorno, a castagnaccio 3 cm thick is called “toppone”.
Castagnaccio is best served with ricotta, chestnut honey or sweet wines such as vin santo.
Castagnaccio is a typical rural dessert of the Appennini area, where chestnuts used to be a staple food of country communities. During the economic growth following World War II it lost its role as the main sweet in these areas, and is now prepared and sold mostly as an autumn delicacy.
Castagnaccio - Tuscan Chestnut Cake
- 500 g chestnut flour
- 75 g caster sugar
- 4 - 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 litre cold water
- 2 tablespoons rosemary leaves, or fennel seeds
- 75 g sultanas (golden raisins), soaked in warm water for 10 minutes, drained and dried
- 50 g pine-nuts
- Preheat the oven to 190°C.
- Grease a baking tin with 1½ tablespoons olive oil.
- Mix the chestnut flour and sugar together and add about 2½ tablespoons olive oil. Beating constantly, gradually pour in the cold water to make a thick, lump-free batter.
- Pour the batter into the tin and level the surface. Sprinkle with the rosemary leaves (or fennel), the sultanas and the pine nuts
- Bake for about 45 minutes - 1 hour, depending on how moist you'd like the cake to be.
- Serve at room temperature or warm, spread with a tangy cheese such as stracchino or fresh ricotta.
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