Castagnaccio is a typical Apennine region non-sweet dessert made with chestnut flour and love. During a particularly difficult shoot in Garfagnana where long working days were spent immersed up to the waist in a tumultuous river, the thought of returning to the hotel and munching on foot-long slabs of castagnaccio in front of the fireplace, made conquering the Serchio river bank effortless.
Image © Fraenzi
- 500 gr (2 1/2 cups) sweet chestnut flour (the cheaper kind is lumpy and bland)
- 750 ml (3 3/4 cups) water
- A pinch of salt
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- A pinch of fresh Rosemary needles
- 100 gr (1/2 cup) Pine nuts
- 50 gr (1/4 cup) Raisins
Preheat oven at 180° C (350° F).
Soak the raisins in a glass of lukewarm water and set aside. Pour the olive oil in the water and set aside. Sift the chestnut flour in a large mixing bowl and add the salt. Slowly drizzle the water and oil “emulsion” over the flour and keep mixing with a wire whisk to avoid lumps. The blend will turn out quite liquid, but do not worry.
Pour the mixture in a well-oiled cake pan. Don’t mind the uneven composition swimming in the pan, the recipe requires it to be that way, trust me.
Sprinkle with pine nuts, raisins and rosemary needles. Drizzle with one more thread of oil and bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes. I like my castagnaccio soft with a lightly crisp crust. Mind you, the pie doesn’t rise, so the thickness shouldn’t be more than a 1/2-inch.
Tip: Don’t sink your teeth in your castagnaccio before it has cooled down completely. The oil will comfortably be absorbed during cooling and you won’t scorch your mouth.
And one more thing: castagnaccio loves Chianti.