Castagnaccio – A Traditional Taste of Tuscany

Have you ever heard of Castagnaccio? If not, you’re in for a treat! Castagnaccio is a traditional Tuscan cake made with chestnut flour, water, olive oil, raisins, and pine nuts. The cake is typically flavoured with rosemary and has a dense, moist texture.

While castagnaccio is a cake, it isn’t particularly sweet. It doesn’t have sugar, as the sweetness comes from the chestnut flour. If you prefer a little more sweetness, you can serve it with a dusting of sugar. Let’s take a closer look at the history of castagnaccio, as well as how to make it.

A Cake Rich in Tradition

Castagnaccio is a rustic cake that has a long and rich history. It was well-known as a common dish in Tuscany in 1500, where it was primarily made by peasants. This cake is made with chestnut flour, which was once a staple food of the poor in Tuscan villages. Only after the year 800 did the dish spread throughout Italy and gain the missing raisins and pine nuts. Originally created to use up chestnut flour, Castagnaccio has since become a popular dessert in its own right.

One of the best things about Castagnaccio is that it is quick and simple to make. You don’t need to add eggs or butter, only some extra virgin olive oil and a little water. The recipe can also be easily adapted to suit different tastes. For example, some recipes call for the addition of chocolate chips or other dried fruit, such as apricots or figs. Or, if you don’t enjoy the flavour of raisins, for instance, you can leave those out and still have a delicious cake to enjoy. Similarly, you can adjust the amounts for different nuts to suit your preferred taste.

My Grandmother’s Traditional Castagnaccio Recipe

This recipe is a family favourite, and I remember my grandmother making it on many occasions. It brings back many happy memories, as the flavour connects me not only to my family but to Tuscan culture itself.

Ingredients:

  • 400g chestnut flour
  • 550ml water
  • 60g pine nuts
  • 80g raisins
  • 100g walnuts
  • Rosemary
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Method:

  • Soak the raisins in water for ten minutes to help them become plump and juicy.
  • Sift the chestnut flour into a mixing bowl. This removes any lumps, creating a smooth dough.
  • Gradually mix in the water, stirring with a whisk, until you get a smooth consistency.
  • Add the nuts and raisins.
  • To a baking tray, add a dash of olive oil and spread it over the surface. Pour in the cake batter.
  • Decorate the top with a few pine nuts, walnuts, and some rosemary leaves. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
  • Bake in an oven preheated to 190°C for 45 minutes.

If you want to add sweetness, sprinkle some sugar on top. You can also serve with a dollop of ricotta cheese. Delicious!

If you’re looking for a unique and delicious cake to experience a true taste of Tuscany, give Castagnaccio a try! You won’t be disappointed. It’s simple, delicious, and perfect for autumn.

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