Tuscan Chestnut Cake (Castagnaccio)

Traditional Tuscan chestnut cake castagnaccio recipe

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  • Total: 45 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: One 8-inch cake (6 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
298 Calories
17g Fat
35g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: One 8-inch cake (6 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 298
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 54mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Protein 6g
Calcium 30mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Castagnaccio is a traditional Tuscan recipe that is typically made each fall. It's usually associated with Lucca and the rest of Tuscany, but similar autumnal chestnut cakes are also made in other Italian regions such as Ligura, the Piemonte, Veneto, Lombardia, and Emilia-Romagna, in Switzerland, and on the French island of Corsica.

It is a dense, flat, unleavened cake and it is a somewhat unusual dish in that it's a dessert, but not a very sweet one, and made with ingredients—such as olive oil and rosemary—that are more likely associated with savory dishes. It might be better described as a "semi-sweet flatbread," though that doesn't quite nail it down either.

It's very nutritious and simple to make, so give it a try and see how you like it! It's great served after a hearty fall meal with a glass of vin santo, nocino, or any other sweet dessert wine. It would make a unique and seasonally appropriate addition to a Thanksgiving dinner table, and since it just happens to be vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and lactose-free, a great alternative dessert for those with dietary restrictions.

To make it a bit more dessert-like, you can also add cocoa powder and increase the sugar a bit, or omit the rosemary. Since, like most traditional Italian dishes, there are endless variations on the recipe, feel free to experiment and add and omit ingredients according to your own personal taste. Some ideas of variations are given below the recipe.

It's important to use fresh and high-quality chestnut flour. If you are unable to find chestnut flour, it's surprisingly simple to make your own from roasted chestnuts, if you have a food processor or mill.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups chestnut flour (sifted)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins (soaked in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes, drained well, and squeezed of excess water)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts (toasted and roughly chopped)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C.

    Gather the ingredients
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga
  2. Place the chestnut flour in a large bowl.

    Place chestnut flour in bowl
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga
  3. Gradually whisk in 2 cups of warm water to form a thick, smooth batter. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt, and raisins. Mix well with a wooden spoon.

    Gradually mix in warm water
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga
  4. Transfer to a greased round cake pan. Sprinkle the walnuts, pine nuts, rosemary, and remaining olive oil evenly over the top.

    Season in bowl
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga
  5. Pat lightly with a spatula to adhere and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until firm and lightly browned.

    Pat lightly with spatula
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga 
  6. Serve and enjoy!

    Serve
    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Recipe Variations

  • Replace the raisins with chopped candied orange peel, chopped dried black cherry, chopped dried fig, chopped apple, or chopped dates (or any combination thereof).
  • Add 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 5 ounces melted dark chocolate, or 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips.

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