Castagnaccio is a Italian chestnut cake that is simple, but delicious! Flavored with aromatic chestnut flour, rosemary, olive oil, and raisins, you will love this unique dessert!
Want to try another delicious Italian cake? Try this panettone recipe.
Originally published December 2020; this post has been updated.
I first learned of this simple chestnut flour cake in a novel; the name of the novel escapes me. I’d been to Northern Italy when chestnuts were dropping from the trees, so knew exactly how prevalent they were. Reading about the fall tradition of making this cake from chestnuts fascinated me.
I never ran across this recipe on a menu while I was visiting, but as a person who is gluten free, I was intrigued by the ingredient list. No gluten in sight!
What is Castagnaccio (aka Tuscan Chestnut Cake)?
Castagnaccio (or Tuscan chestnut cake) is super simple, calling for just a few ingredients. Traditional Italian recipes apparently don’t use any sweetener other than the natural sweetness from the raisins and chestnut flour itself.
It is said that this dish originated from Tuscany as a peasant dish. We call it chestnut “cake” in America, but I use the word “cake” loosely when it comes to this dish. It is almost closer to an unleavened, flatbread.
Because our palates are not as used to a more savory dessert like this, a little bit of honey is added to this recipe. However, it is an optional ingredient.
Because this recipe doesn’t call for many ingredients, it’s important that the ingredients you use are good quality, especially the chestnut flour.
Chestnut flour: This ingredient is probably not readily available at your local supermarket. There are a number of options for ordering Italian chestnut flour online. Essentially, this ingredient is finely ground chestnuts.
Raisins: The addition of raisins add a little sweetness to this recipe. Be sure to soak them before you use them.
Nuts: You’ll add both walnuts and pine nuts to the batter. If you’re counting, that makes this a three-nut recipe.
Rosemary: Folklore says that the addition of this savory herb would cause a man who eats it to fall in love with the woman who made it. You’ll use just the leaves of rosemary, not the stem.
Honey: This is an optional ingredient to add a little bit of sweetness.
Preparing this Chestnut Cake Recipe
Although this recipe is a fairly straightforward “add it all in a bowl and stir” kind of recipe, there are a couple things to keep in mind.
The first thing to keep in mind is to soak the rosemary needles and raisins before you use them. This well help rehydrate both these ingredients so that they don’t absorb too much of the moisture while baking.
Another tip that will help elevate your Castagnaccio is to sift the chestnut flour. This will help your batter be smoother and not clump.
Combine the chestnut flour, honey, and oil with water in a bowl until a smooth batter forms.
Add the soaked raisins, along with half of the raisins, walnuts, and pine nuts.
Pour the batter into a pie pan and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle with rosemary and remaining raisins and nuts.
Bake for about 30-35 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Cool slightly before cutting, then enjoy it with a nice glass of red or dessert wine!
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- 1/3 cup raisins, divided
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
- 3 cups chestnut flour, sifted
- 1 2/3 cups lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons honey*
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus more for pan)
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts, divided
- ¼ cup pine nuts, divided
1. Soak raisins and rosemary leaves in two separate small bowls of lukewarm water. Set aside.
2. Position oven rack to center position. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9” pie pan with olive oil or non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine chestnut flour, water, honey, and olive oil with a fork or wooden spoon. Continue stirring until a smooth batter forms. If batter is too thick, add another tablespoon or two of water to thin it slightly.
4. Drain raisins and rosemary leaves and pat dry. Add half of the raisins, walnuts, and pine nuts to batter and stir to combine.
5. Pour batter into prepared pie pan and spread with a spatula to form a smooth, uniform layer. Evenly distribute rosemary and remaining raisins, walnuts, and pine nuts on top of batter.
6. Place pan in pre-heated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is dried and starting to crack.
7. Remove from oven and cool slightly before cutting into thin slices and serving. Enjoy!
*Honey is optional. Use more or less honey depending on level of sweetness desired.
TIP: For best results, sift the chestnut flour before using. If you don’t have a flour sifter, add chestnut flour to a small fine mesh strainer and gently shake over the mixing bowl to remove any clumps.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 219Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 15mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 1gSugar: 7gProtein: 3g