Staying in the Chestnuts theme we cannot omit mentioning Castagnaccio. Castagne (chestnuts in Italian) are commonly found in the hills of many Italian regions, from Veneto to Lombardia to Tuscany which in old times made them popular with poor people. In the past I have been scolded by some readers for appropriating dishes to Tuscany when they were “not only” Tuscan. In order to keep peace, this time I will say that the Castagnaccio I am about to share with you is the “Tuscan” version. Honestly I have to say that I am not a big fan of it (no offence to my compatriots) but I do not even love “Marron Glace`”, so I suggest you try it and decide for yourself.
The main ingredient in Castagnaccio is chestnut flour, and the end of November is the best time to find good one. Quality is fundamental when buying chestnut flour so look for soft, light flour. This kind of chestnut flour will be naturally sweet!
This already particular cake has also another peculiar ingredient. Rosemary! The legend says that the rosemary used in Castagnaccio has love elixir power. The young man who eats the cake offered to him by a young woman will fall in love with her and he will ask her to marry him! So let’s get cooking and making these boys fall in love!!
10 oz chestnut flour
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups water
3 tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
2 oz raisin
2 oz pinenuts
1 oz walnuts (roughly chopped)
1 fresh sprig rosemary (leaves only)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl soak raisins in water to revive. In a large bowl sift flour and salt. Then add water a little at the time, mixing until you have a light batter. Squeeze water out of raisins. Set aside a handful of raisin, pinenuts and walnuts. Add raisin and nuts to the batter and mix. Brush the bottom of the pan with one tablespoon of olive oil and pour the batter in the pan. Sprinkle on top the rest of the nuts, raisin and the rosemary leaves. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil bake for 30 minutes or until a crusty top is formed and the nuts get a golden color.