Fresh out of the oven, Castagnaccio, a simple cake from Tuscany.

Memories from Tuscany: the food! Unforgettable. Castagnaccio, the Poor Man’s Cake from Tuscany

Sometimes food will bring back some of the special memories of childhood or a vacation in a favorite destination in the world. The food of Tuscany, Italy is that kind of place which offers its visitors some of the most memorable food in the world. The food of a region is a major part of a new culture for travelers. It’s a celebration of life in Tuscany, the food that comes from the land and is enjoyed and shared around a table. Tuscan fare is fresh off the land, grown without chemicals and so wonderfully prepared. There’s hardly a person alive that will forget their dining experiences in Tuscany. The food of the region is so memorable that many people travel to Tuscany just to study the art of cooking Tuscan style. There are plenty of Tuscan cooking classes available online to add to a vacation in Tuscany.

What’s your favorite food from Tuscany? One of my favorite things is a cake called Castagnaccio. Castagnaccio is a traditional cake, once eaten by peasants and farmers of the Apennine mountains of Italy. Chestnuts were plentiful and often the main staple of the farmer’s diet. This cake is quick and easy to make from just a few ingredients. Today, you could even call it “healthy.” Chestnuts are lower in carbs, calories and fat than all the other nuts.

The simple ingredients of this Tuscan cake.

The ingredients for Castagnaccio consist of about one and a half to two cups of water, 250 grams of chestnut flour, 40 grams of walnuts, 20 grams of pine nuts, 1/6 a cup of extra virgin oil, one cup of raisins an a sprig of fresh rosemary. There’s nothing else. Nothing false, nothing bitter, nothing bad for you. In other words, no chemicals or sugar. That’s it.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 180°Celsius. Grease a pan or baking dish with a little of the olive oil.
You slowly add water to the chestnut flour mixing it, but making sure not to add too much water. The recipe said to add a cup and a half of water to the chestnut flour, but it also said you should be able to “pour” the mixture into a baking dish. I was worried that the mixture was too thick, even after I added the raisins. So, I added more water, a little at a time. It cannot be too thick or runny. Add a little of extra virgin olive oil and then 2/3 of a cup of the raisins to the mixture.

Pour the mixture into a baking pan. Sprinkle the top with the walnut pieces, pine nuts and the rest of the raisins and pieces of the fresh rosemary, drizzle a little olive oil over the top.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes just until the top of the cake begins to ‘crack.’

Enjoy your memory of Tuscany in the delightful chestnut flavor of the “poor man’s cake,” Castagnaccio.

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