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Castagnaccio, a Tuscan chestnut cake

Some days ago I was searching for my weekly Tuscan recipe when suddenly an idea came to my mind. The season is changing. When I come back home the smell of fireplace is lingering around, it is getting cold and in Siena, the first roast chestnut vendors are popping at every corner.

It’s time for a traditional chestnut cake, castagnaccio, as we call it.

If you want to bake a good castagnaccio – the Tuscan chestnut cake – depends almost exclusively on the flour you use. Since you do not add sugar to the batter, the chestnut flour should be sweet and tasty on its own, and that’s the reason it is known as farina dolce, sweet flour. In Tuscany, we have a renowned DOP flour, Farina di Neccio della Garfagnana.


The first time you taste it, castagnaccio’s floury texture melts in your mouth along with its sweet chestnut flavour—a flavour that for we who grew up with it evokes memories of children in winter coats and woollen gloves, of a warm paper bag containing 1,000 lire’s worth of roasted chestnuts, the shop lights seen from the street with mother and father, and the sweet taste of this timeless winter treat. Talk of castagnaccio among Tuscans can quickly turn into a heated discussion, as every area uses a different kind of dried fruit and different herbs and spices.

December is the best period to buy chestnut flour, as the chestnuts are handpicked, dried for forty days over a fire fed by chestnut wood, then ground in local stone mills.

Castagnaccio, the Tuscan chestnut cake

Castagnaccio is an ancient recipe, a dessert that speaks to the Tuscan peasant woman’s triumph over poverty and hunger. The simplest version involves a basic mix of chestnut flour, water, oil and rosemary, resulting in a cake with an almost biting, smoky flavour and a texture similar to bread pudding. And yet castagnaccio is in some ways a surprisingly modern dessert. It contains no sugar and is naturally gluten and lactose-free. More elaborate versions call for dried fruit and raisins to be added along with its fundamental ingredient, of course: chestnut flour. Its name derives from castagna, the Italian word for chestnut.

Have a look also at this Christmas version of castagnaccio from the blog archive.

Castagnaccio, Tuscan chestnut cake

The simplest version of castagnaccio involves a basic mix of chestnut flour, water, oil and rosemary, resulting in a cake with an almost biting, smoky flavour and a texture similar to bread pudding.
4.80 from 5 votes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Tuscan
Servings 10


  • 50 g raisins
  • 1 tablespoon vinsanto
  • 250 g chestnut flour
  • 400 ml water
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt
  • 20 g pine nuts
  • 50 g walnuts
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • Extra virgin olive oil
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  • Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and soak the raisins in warm water with a tablespoon of vinsanto.
  • Add the chestnut flour and salt to a bowl. Pour in the water a little at a time, stirring continuously to prevent lumps.
  • Add the squeezed raising and half of the pine nuts and walnuts, then stir again.
  • Grease a 10-inch/26 cm round baking dish with plenty of extra virgin olive and pour in the batter.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining pine nuts and walnuts, then add the rosemary needles.
  • Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes until the chestnut cake is dry on the top and covered with fine lines. You can eat it warm or cold.
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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Love your site. Envious of where you are. My work all has a Mediterranean slant. You are so lucky to live where you do. Please Follow or visit my blog…love to have you.

  2. I poured other each and every line of this post. The words, the photos, the cake were all exquisitely crafted. I feel as if we are sharing a slice together outside in the brisk weather. Thanks for sharing this lovely cake and post. Ciao!

  3. Sounds wonderful! Have never try anything with chestnut before. Hope to try out soon. Thanks.

  4. Gorgeous!!! The last time I made a version of castagnaccio I added in some figs, though I love the orange idea!

  5. I am fascinated by this! I have some chestnut flour at home and couldn’t decide what I wanted to do with it. I think this is going to be the first recipe I try. Thanks!

    1. Go fo it Iris, I do love castagnaccio, it’s one of my favourite seasonal dessert! try it with some pine nut ice cream now in summer, you’ll love it!

  6. I assume the walnuts are added like the pine nuts (mentioned in the list of ingredients but not in the instrucctions.)

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