- SHOP LIST
- chestnut flour
- extra-virgin olive oil
This month’s theme is an ingredient, a fruit that for a long time was a crucial element of the daily diet; in fact chestnuts were called poors’ bread, ’cause they were at anyone fingertips and ’cause they were capable to fill the empty bellies of those who couldn’t affort much else.
Now you can pick chestnuts in the wood, but I think it’s not so easy to find woods near our big cities. When I have the time, I like running away from my city and find some peace in the wonderful valleys that sorround Turin to pick chestnuts (I’ll always remember a 20 kg bag I picked up a few years ago, in Val Pallice), but it’s not always possible, so I often buy them, and they’re very expensive (maybe now chestnuts are the riches’ bread, uh?). And it’s the same for dried chestnut and chestnut flour.
Well, old people’s comment aside, I decided to start this challenge with a very traditional dish made with chestnut flour, castagnaccio, a humble cake very common in the Appenine regions, but actually you can find it in every region that has a chestnut production, Piedmont included. No one could possibly beat Tuscany for chestnut based dishes, but we did our part, too.
According to a lot of people, in fact, we make a slightly different version of castagnaccio, different from the typical one made with oil, rosemary and pine nuts; and, let’s say it, this one, if it’s not done properly, could be very gristly. So, to avoid the ‘ngusa pitu effect (in Piedmontese in means guzzled turkey), we add some apples and some amaretti.
This addings dirtort or ennoble castagnaccio? You’ll say it, but I only say (well, Eraclito said it) that nothing was born, nothing will die, but everything becomes something new. And changing, evolution, often is beauty.
Ok, I swear, now I eat a slice of castagnaccio and stop talking!
- Yield: a 24 cm cake
- Prep: 15 mins
- Cook: 30 mins
- Ready In: 45 mins
- 200 grams chestnut flour
- 250 ml milk
- 50 grams honey
- 40 grams sugar
- 1 egg
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pinch of salt
- 3 apples for me Renette apples, peeled and diced
- 200 grams amaretti crushed
- Toast the chestnut flour by putting it in a non-stick frying pan on a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
Sift it into a bowl and let it cool down.
- Add salt, nutmeg and sugar, then start adding the milk, a little at a time and mix with a whisk, so you won’t have any lumps.
- Continue adding the milk, but also honey, egg and extra-virgin olive oil, always stirring with a whisk, until you have a semi-liquid batter.
- Pre-heat the oven to 392°F (200°C).
- Now add the apples (peeled and diced) and the amaretti (finely crushed) to the batter.
- Pour the batter into a 24 cm in diameter baking pan, previously greased, and bake in a pre-heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Keep in mind that this kind of cake must remain moist, so don’t let it dry too much.
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