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Chestnut Cake Castagnaccio Recipe

Preparation time: 35 minutes
Expense: 5 euros

Simple and tasty, this typical Tuscan recipe is perfect during fall and winter months. The ingredients here are as humble as it could possible be during the time this recipe it was invented. The origins of castagnaccio (also called migliaccio or pattona) are to be found in Garfagnana, the northern region of Tuscany, that includes Lucca and parts of Massa Carrara provinces. Here the production of chestnuts, due to the many mountains that dominate the territory, in the past was one of the main industries. The main ingredients of this recipe is indeed chestnut flour. Chestnuts represented an important food source for the poor peasants and farmers, that could find large amounts of them for free in the woods. The other ingredients are all local and tied to the cultivated land. Castagnaccio is especially good if accompanied by Novello wine (the first wine of the production year) and with Vin Santo, a sweet aged wine. There are many variations of Castagnacio, but this is the original recipe unvaried through the centuries.

Ingredients:
- 150 grams of chestnut flour
- Leaves of a rosemary branch
- 6 tablespoons of olive oil
- 50 grams pine nuts
- 50 grams raisins
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup of water (250 ml)

Preparation:
Sieve the flour and add the pinch of salt, 2 tbs of olive oil and slowly the cold decalcified water, until you get a smooth, not too liquid, dough. Meanwhile you have previously set the raisins in hot water to moisten. After drying them with a towel, add them to the dough.
Using a large oven pan, pour 2 tbs of olive oil on it spreading it evenly, then pour the dough evenly on the pan to get about a half inch, or a little over a centimeter, thick layer, which you will sprinkle with the pine nuts, rosemary leaves, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Heat the oven up to 200 C or 392 F and set the pan inside to cook for 25 minutes, checking that a thin crust is forming on top and cracking throughout the surface, but leaving the inside soft and not at all dry. Regulate your time and temperature to obtain this result, otherwise the castagnaccio will be not as pleasurable to eat. The castagnaccio lasts a few days, can be reheated, and is a great snack or pastry. Delicious with Vin Santo wine, or any muscat. Buon appetito!

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