Chestnut Flour Sweet Bread or Castagnaccio

chestnut flour bread

I find that one of the most beautiful things in life is enjoying seasonal foods – foods I can only find during a certain time of year or that my body mostly wants during this time.

My favorite season food-wise is autumn. As the days start getting cooler and crisper and darker, my body starts wanting warm, nourishing foods like soups and stews and roasted vegetables. Foods that are naturally in season like pumpkin, squash, figs, persimmon, pears, apples. There’s the sudden desire to add spices like pumpkin spice mix to pretty much everything and to make apple sauce. And finally, there’s my absolute favorite: Chestnuts.

The smell of freshly roasted chestnuts wafting in the cool, crisp air in the street, buying chestnuts and warming my hands with them – oh how I love this nut!

Yes, chestnut is actually a nut but unlike other nuts, it is very low in fat and protein and very high in starch. This makes it more similar to potatoes or rice or wheat in taste in taste and texture and also the way it can be used. It also has an alkaline effect on the body which is very beneficial as most of us tend to eat too much acidic food.

I discovered this traditional Italian sweet bread or Castagnaccio through a friend. She mentioned she had made a bread that was very quick to make and naturally gluten-free using chestnut flour. I was intrigued.

This recipe uses chestnut flour – a gluten free flour made from dried, milled chestnuts that is also naturally sweet. Sweetened with only raisins or dried figs, we don’t actually need to add any sweetener. The chopped walnuts add healthy fats and protein while contributing to the texture. The aniseed helps make the taste a little sweeter as a naturally sweet spice. The result is something between a sweet bread and a not so sweet cake. You can have it for breakfast or as a snack or even as a dessert. You can make more of the batch and freeze a loaf. And trust me. Once you try it, you will be as hooked as I am!

Ingredients

250g chestnut flour

35g raisins or finely chopped dried figs (that’s 2 dried figs)

350 ml cold water

15-20g aniseed (depending on how much you like the taste)

a pinch of salt

25g finely chopped walnuts (that’s about 10 halves)

3 tablespoons unmelted extra virgin coconut oil 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Place the raisins or chopped dried figs in 350 ml of water and leave them to soak as you prepare the rest of the recipe.

Place a bowl over a scale and sift the chestnut flour into it. Most of the chestnut flour I have found is quite clumpy, so this is an important step.

Chop the walnuts finely and add them to the chestnut flour

Add the aniseed and salt.

Add the water with the raisins or figs and mix until you get a paste-like consistency.

Melt the coconut oil and add this in and mix so everything is combined.

Pour into 2 silicone cake loaf pans or a larger round one. If you are using silicone, you don’t need to grease your pan but if you are using tin or glass you do. This is traditionally made to be only about 1 cm high and it won’t rise so don’t over fill your baking form! Place the pine nuts on the top and press slightly with your hand.

Place in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. Your sweet bread is ready when the top starts cracking. Take it out and place to cool on a wire rack before cutting.

You can buy chestnut flour in any organic store or online in Switzerland here or here.

I would love to hear from you – what’s your favorite autumn food? 

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4 Comments

  • Stephanie on Nov 01, 2015 Reply

    Hi Hiba,
    This looks so yummy!
    I’m curious what other spice or herb in place of the anise? I’m really not a fan of it!! Cinnamon or cardamom perhaps.

  • AudreyA on Sep 30, 2015 Reply

    Thank for this source of inspiration Hiba ! My favourite autumn food is a warm pumpkin ( red kuri ) soup with grilled hazelnuts or chestnuts on top.

    • Hiba on Sep 30, 2015 Reply

      Thank you for your comment Audrey! let me know what you think if you give it a try :) And your warm pumpkin soup sounds delicious!

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