Castagnaccio Pugliese (Chestnut Flour Cake)
An Italian autumnal classic, the Castagnaccio is a gluten-free cake made of chestnut flour, olive oil, dried fruits and nuts. Served with a cup of espresso (or wine) and a drizzle of honey, it is the perfect treat on a cold afternoon.
This post is sponsored by Nuts.com
One year ago I was living one of the most amazing experiences of my life, in Italy! ??
My journey lasted a month and started in Tuscany, with a food photography workshop. From there, I met my parents – who flew from Brazil to explore Italy with me – and we visited quite a few cities, like Milan, Rome, the Vatican, Sutri, Florence, Siena, Parma, Assisi, Venice, Verona and the Amalfi Coast.
We started in Milan, where my cousin lives, made our way down “the boot” by car and then back up to Venice and Milan again before flying back to NYC.
Food was amazing, the scenery was something out of a Renaissance piece and the company was the best I could have ever wished for!
But although I would love to tell you the trip was a dream come true, it just wouldn’t be true. I had just gone through a miscarriage and my heart was shattered into a million tiny pieces, which definitely got in the way of the perfect Italian experience.
But now it’s been a whole year. And while I sit here, writing this post, my baby girl screams her lungs out because she wants to be held! Funny how life turns around, isn’t it?
I think I was subconsciously missing Italy these past few days, because I’ve been craving all things Italian.
And now that I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, it is time to revisit some of the dishes I experienced during my stay as I don’t want their memories to be tinted with sadness.
So when Nuts.com sent me a box full of goodies, challenging me to create a dish from at least a few items from the box, and I saw that there were chestnut flour, olive oil, cocoa powder and dried cranberries, I knew I had to make a version of the Castagnaccio I had in Tuscany!
Even though you can find Castagnaccio all over Italy, it originated in Tuscany where it would usually appear in the Fall, sold on street corners from wide copper pans or at chestnut harvest festivals in small Italian villages.
It is a very simple cake, made with local seasonal ingredients and best served in slices due to its richness.
Now, if you’ve never had Castagnaccio, you must be warned that it can be an acquired taste, especially for Americans.
The cake is traditionally not sweet, a bit heavy and very earthy, thanks to the chestnut flour. Tuscans are known for not having a sweet tooth, so it’s no surprise that their version takes no sugar at all, getting the sweetness from the dried fruit, and also doesn’t call for cocoa powder.
Well, I like my sweets sweet and I never say no to chocolate, so the Pugliese version was more appealing to me. I still added the dried fruit and nuts, which are part of the Tuscan Castagnaccio, so I guess my version is more of a hybrid!
One thing that might prevent you from making Castagnaccio is finding chestnut flour.
Well, save yourself the trouble and go straight to Nuts.com, where you will find not only the chestnut flour but most of the other ingredients that you need to make this cake!
And while you’re there, I’d strongly advise you to stock up on all your favorite nuts, because they have everything you could ever dream of, plus more. Right there, at the touch of a button!
They are also a family owned company run by some really nice people, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll agree that those are the type of companies that deserve your money.
And then there’s the fun colorful packaging… ? Oh, I just can’t with the packaging. They make me so happy!
Okay… okay… I guess you guys got my point: I FREAKIN’ LOVE NUTS.COM! ❤️❤️❤️
And thanks to them, I got to make this beautiful rustic cake without leaving my house for ingredients.
Despite the warm chocolate-y color, the cake is not what you’d expect from a chocolate cake. It is not too sweet and tastes quite strong!
But I urge you to give it a try. And then again! Once you understand the flavor, you will be hooked just like the Tuscans are.
Castagnaccio Pugliese (Chestnut Flour Cake)
- 1 1/2 cups chestnut flour
- 1/3 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 2 tablespoons honey, plus more for serving
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cups raisins
- 1/2 cups dried cranberries, plumped in 1/4 cup warm water (or wine - preferably Vin Santo)
- 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/3 cup roughly chopped toasted walnuts
- Confectioner's sugar for dusting
17 Comments on “Castagnaccio Pugliese (Chestnut Flour Cake)”
Oh I want to travel and eat my way through Italy so bad! This cake looks amazing and we just bought an espresso machine…so yes, this cake and espresso are going to happen here very soon! I just need to get the chestnut flour :)
Chestnut flour? That’s unique! This sounds and looks like it would be a great treat. I would love to have a slice right now with a cup of coffee.
I have never cooked with chestnut flour before. This cake looks so pretty, I may have to try it.
I have never baked with chestnut flour before. That is a great gluten free option. The trip you mentioned to Italy should have been so awesome. Italy is my bucket list and hope I get to visit them place sometime soon.
Oh boy what a beautiful cake! I’ve never tried chestnut flour but this makes for a perfect holiday dessert. I’d love a slice right now!
That cake looks so pretty. I must be honest though we love chestnuts and get them often I have never seen chestnut flour ever. I must look for this. YUM!
I’ve never used chestnut flour, but it sounds delicious! And this recipe looks amazing. I’ll have to try it out soon! Beautiful photos!
This is so seasonal … I’m awfully tempted to pour a cup of coffee and bake up a cake tonight!
Well, I did bake it and the result was not very impressive.
In fact the resultant mixture was runny as water and even after an exension of ten minutes to the baking time the outside edges were almost runny.
I suspect that there is a mistake in the measurements.
Although i do believe that if everything were correct the cake could be very good.
This is a beautiful cake. I have made it twice using this recipe. It’s simple, the way cakes were simple long ago. Clean ingredients. The cake was moist and delicious. Thank you!
I made this cake today and it was delicious! I used more cranberries and added pecans instead of walnuts. For the topping, I covered the cooled cake in a cranberry Marmelade and a layer of whipped cream on top. Simply fantastic. Thank you so much for this delightful recipe!
I’ve made this twice in one week. I’m not a fan of raisins so I used currants and dried apricots the first time.
The second time I omitted the fruit altogether and used chopped almonds and grated dried ginger. In the oven right now.
I have an orange marmalade that I think will work wonderfully well as a drizzle on top.
We shall wait and see
I’ve had chestnut flour sitting in my freezer for too long-so was very happy to find this recipe!
I’m gluten and dairy intolerant as well as have an egg allergy. So I had to substitute almond milk and flax eggs, and it turned out great! My parents were over for dinner, and my kids aren’t gf/df/ef but they loved it too. I love that it’s not overly sweet. With the dried fruit it’s perfectly sweet enough. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe-indeed a great coffee cake
Just made this cake! I’m living in Spain and just bought 1kg of chestnut flour at an organic food fair. Like another commenter I used pecans only, no dried fruit, substituted brown sugar, and used orange-infused olive oil. Sprinkled cubes of fresh pear soaked in grapefruit liqueur on top. All delicious, especially with chocolate ice cream! Thanks so much for providing a version with chocolate and sugar.
I’ve just bought 500gr chestnut flour and searched for a recipe. I like how you described the castagnaccio pugliese, but the only inconvenient is that in Europe we give the quantities in grams, not cups. How much chestnut flour enters within a cup? So strange this american style of describibg quantities of ingredients for cooking!!!
Made this today and my family loved it! I couldn’t find any raisins, so swapped them for chopped up prunes.
Thank you for the recipe. I made it yesterday and it was delicious. I didn’t have enough chestnut flour left so added some coconut flour to make up the quantity, it worked really well. Goes nicely with a cup of tea and equally as good with tipple of the Vin Santo!