Chestnut flour bundt cake

Chestnut flour bundt cake

Ciambellone alle castagne

By
From
Acquacotta
Makes
1 cake, serves 10
Photographer
Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

Where there are chestnut trees, there are chestnuts prepared and eaten in all manner of ways. Chestnut flour has always been a good way to make chestnuts last through the winter months and beyond, and while Castagnaccio is the most well-known and traditional way to use it in Tuscany, chestnut flour is also used in cakes and pasta, just like regular flour. In the case of cakes, it’s best when mixed with regular plain flour as it doesn’t have gluten and has a rather dense texture when cooked. But even a little is enough to lend the cake that distinct smell and flavour of chestnuts, and a pastel caffe-latte colour.

This ring-shaped cake is known as Ciambellone dell’Amiata, referring to the use of chestnut flour from the volcanic Mount Amiata. It’s an area well known for its chestnuts, which even have IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) status, meaning they are recognised for their quality. The rosemary icing is my addition to this otherwise traditional cake. It gives the cake a pretty finish and I love the flavour of rosemary in Tuscan cakes and breads.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
150g butter, at room temperature
200g sugar
1 orange, zested
4 eggs, at room temperature
150g chestnut flour, sifted
250g plain flour
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
125ml milk
2 tablespoons rum, (optional)

Icing

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon rosemary, leaves picked
50g icing sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons warm water

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Grease a 25 cm ring (bundt) tin with melted butter or olive oil. Tip in some flour and tap the tin to distribute a very fine, even layer all over the inside of the tin. Set aside.
  2. Use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar with the orange zest until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each.
  3. Combine the flours and baking powder in a bowl and fold these dry ingredients into the batter carefully, alternating with the milk, until just combined. Add the rum (if using) and fold through carefully. Pour the batter into the tin.
  4. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden on top and a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove and let the cake cool in the tin before turning out onto a plate. You can eat it simply like this or, for a non-traditional addition, you can try adding my light, runny rosemary-scented glaze. Simply rub the rosemary into the icing sugar, then stir through just enough warm water to make it quite runny, about 2 teaspoons. Drizzle over the cake.

Variations

  • You can use 125 ml of olive oil in place of the butter, or lemon zest instead of the orange zest. The milk can be replaced with water, so if you wanted to, this recipe could easily be dairy-free. Instead of the rum, you can use brandy or any aniseed-scented liqueur, or leave it out altogether.
Tags:
Italian
Tuscany
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