Castagnaccio

Summary

Yield
Servings
SourceItalian Regional Cooking
Prep time1 1⁄2 hours
RegionItaly

Description

CastagnaccioCastagnaccio is a traditional Tuscan unleavened bread for travelers and field-workers. It's heavy, flavorful, and nourishing without being too sweet.

Castagnaccio is made with fresh chestnut flour, olive oil, rosemary, and pignoli, and sometimes raisins. I get chestnut flour in Boston's North End at Polcari's Market or at Salumeria Italiana; I am told that it is also available at Whole Foods sometimes. 

Ingredients

8ozChestnut Flour
2 1⁄2TExtra-Virgin Olive Oil
1pnSalt
4tSugar
2cWater (cold)
3TSultanas (golden raisins)
3TPine Nuts
1TRosemary (fresh)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Combine chestnut flour, salt, sugar, and oil.
  3. Add water to make a smooth batter.
  4. Coat bottom and sides of an 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pan with oil. The batter should be no more than 3/4" deep.
  5. Pour the batter into the pan. Top with raisins, pignoli, and rosemary.
  6. Bake for an hour, or until the top cracks.
  7. Cool on a rack and serve at room temperature.

Notes

Chestnut flour does not keep very well. It should have a natural sweetness. If it is sour, then replace it.
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What a difference expectations make!

I made this for the birthday dinner. The recipe called it a chestnut cake, and we Americans have an idea what "cake" is. But it's a broad term. The castagnaccio is a savory cake, slightly sweet, but no more so than a ripe apricot. It's not a decadent dessert.

But it is a cake of chestnut flour and olive oil baked and perfumed with rosemary, and that "cake" (while as far removed from a Stop & Shop birthday cake as a fine aged Bordeaux is from a restaurant Merlot) is a brilliant combination of evocative flavors and aromas.

Don't make this for a dessert. Make it for a picnic lunch with wine and a savory cheese. You'll discover new worlds of what real food can be!