I am a terrible impulse buyer… Terrible. So when I went to my local and favourite natural food shop to buy some organic apple cider vinegar, I spotted a bag of chestnut flour. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as chestnut flour, let alone how to use it. But that didn’t stop me. I love chestnuts and I was excited to find a new ingredient, so the flour made its way into my shopping basket J


However, once I was back home with my impulse buy, I had to do some research on how to use it. I love doing this kind of research: it gives you so much inspiration.


My research led me to a recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, published in the Guardian a few years ago. Some of you who follow Sandra’s Holistic Kitchen will know I am a fan of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and that his book, River Cottage Veg Every Day, is one of my favourite cookbooks.


The recipe is for a cake called Castagnaccio. It is really not a traditional cake; the chestnut flour has no gluten and you do not use baking powder. You do not even have any eggs into which you could beat a bit of air. So the Castagnaccio has a very dense texture.


Because I can’t leave well alone, I tweaked the recipe to make the most of the beautiful orange flavour by soaking the sultanas in the juice of the orange you need to zest and use the juice again in the cake batter. I also folded the majority of the sultanas and pine nuts into the cake itself and sprinkled the rest on the top of the cake. I actually wished I had used all the sultanas inside the cake as the ones on top burned whilst cooking (as you can see on the photo.) So my recipe below reflects this.
Here is a link to the Guardian article with Hugh’s original recipe:



 And here is my tweaked version…





1 orange, zested and juiced
25g sultanas
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
400g chestnut flour
60g caster sugar
A pinch of sea salt

30g pine nuts
1 good pinch fresh rosemary leaves


First of all, soak the sultanas in the orange juice while you prepare the rest of the recipe (make sure they soak for about 10 minutes so they can plump up.)

Preheat the oven to 150C/130C fan.

Grease a 22cm springform cake tin (or similar) with some of the oil or butter and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sieve the flour into a large bowl and whisk in the sugar, salt and orange zest.

Drain the sultanas over a measuring jug in order to reserve the orange juice. Add enough water to the orange juice to get 400ml of liquid.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the water and orange juice into your dry ingredients until you have a smooth batter, then add the olive oil, beating as you add it.

Fold two-thirds of the pine nuts and all the sultanas into the cake batter.

Pour the mixture into the tin, scatter the rest of the pine nuts over the top of the cake as well as the rosemary leaves.

Bake for about 45 minutes. Once cooked, cool in the tin for 10 minutes then take out of the tin before cooling completely on a cooling rack.


3 thoughts on “Castagnaccio

  1. chestnuts go with chocolate right? Could you omit the pinenuts and rosemary and add in good dark chocolate with the orange then serve with honey ricotta?


  2. chestnuts go with chocolate right? Could you omit the pinenuts and rosemary and add in good dark chocolate with the orange then serve with honey ricotta?


  3. Hi Tom,
    Chocolate and orange are a match made in heaven; I'm sure this combination would work beautifully. Please let me know how it turns out if you eventually try it!
    By the way, I love your idea of serving honey ricotta alongside it.
    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment,
    Sandra x


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