I will soon be introducing you to a an wonderful Tuscan cookbook, but by way of a teaser I thought I would share with you a recipe from the cookbook for a melt-in-the-mouth Pistoria Chestnut Cake which is so simple to make but is so delicious that you will make it time and time again. The key to this is the quality of the Chestnut flour, so make certain you buy the best you can source.
Castagnaccio Alla Pistoiese
50g (scant ½ cup) raisins
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
600g (5¼ cups) very fresh chestnut flour
1 teaspoon salt
100g (scant 1 cup) pine nuts
100g (scant 1 cup) coarsely chopped walnuts
1 small sprig rosemary
Put the raisins into a bowl. pour in warm water to cover and let soak for 15 minutes, until plumped up. Drain, squeeze out the excess liquid and pat dry with paper towel.
Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas Mark 7. Brush a 30cm (12 inch) round cake pan with about 3 tablespoons oil.
Shift the chestnut flour into a bowl and gradually stir in about 900ml (3¾ cups) of water to make a smooth batter. Stir in the salt, pine nuts, raisins and mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle with the walnuts and a few rosemary needles.
Drizzle with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil, put the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, until the top is golden and the surface is cracked. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool slightly, then serve.
Perfect with a glass of Prosecco as well as a coffee!
(Recipe from Tuscany, published by Phaidon Press Limited 2011, photograph by Edward Park)