Castagnaccio, My Way

I was introduced to Castagnaccio by a Tuscan friend. Like most traditional recipes, this was originally a peasant’s dish. Chestnuts (Castagne) are the main ingredient here. At the beginning of the 19th century, when Castagnaccio was exported from Tuscany to the rest of Italy, raisins, pine nuts and rosemary were added to the recipe.

It’s made from chestnut flour and olive oil and has no raising agents. It’s not one of the cakes you are probably used to, it is rather a savoury bread. The sweetness comes from the nuts and dried fruit added to it.

Here’s my own way of making Castagnaccio, replacing some traditional ingredients like walnuts and rosemary with apples, and adding some apricot jam. It has worked really well for me. But you can also try making and decorating it with marrons glacés, hazelnuts or even chocolate chips.



  • 200g chestnut flour
  • 30g sugar
  • 300g water
  • a handful of raisins
  • a handful of pine-nuts
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • 250g apricot jam
  • 1 apple, cored, thinly sliced
  • 10g butter, melted
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar,
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 18-cm springform pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.

Put the flour in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt, then the sugar, whisk in the water very slowly till you get a rather liquid mixture without lumps. Now add 1 tbsp of olive oil, the raisins and the pine nuts. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes at 180°C, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. The castagnaccio is not ready if there are no cracks on the surface.

Take it out, let it cool, and cut into 2 layers. Spread the apricot jam between the layers, then stack and cover the cake, too. Arrange some apple slices on top, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon combined in a bowl. Set the oven to grill and cook the cake for 5 more minutes.

As you can see, Castagnaccio is very easy to make, and offers lots of room for experimentation. It perfectly goes with a November afternoon espresso. You can serve it with a drizzle of honey, maple syrup, cashew cream… Or with some caramel panna cotta, like I usually do.

The chestnut flour I’ve been using


Buon appetito!

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Peposo (Peppery Tuscan Beef Stew)

recipe   recipe

Learn how to make the perfect Peposo, Brunelleschi’s favourite. Don’t be scared off by the amount of pepper in this recipe, the peppery aroma will permeate the kitchen and the diners’ soul.

Time: 1 hour 30 mins       Serves: 4


  • 600 g beef shank, cut into large chunks
  • 20 g whole black peppercorns
  • 500 ml red wine (Chianti, of course)
  • coarse sea salt, to taste
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 celery stick, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped


Heat 3-4 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy-based frying pan and saute the finely chopped carrot, celery and onion. Add the beef cubes, the peppercorns and season with salt. Cook for 20 mins. Then cover with Chianti wine, reduce the heat, put a lid on and cook for about an hour, until the meat is soft.

You can serve Il Peposo with croutons or polenta, and accompany it with a glass of Tuscan red wine. Buon appetito!

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