Recipe for Castagnaccio and fritters

Castagnaccio is a typical recipe from Elba: a sweet that was invented by the poor, country people and was an alternative to the more humble version made with maize flour, and that is now considered a delicacy.

Depending on what was available, people sometimes added nuts or pine nuts to make the sweet richer, that were collected during the summer and partially broken with a hammer (it was usually the children who did this since they looked upon it as a game), or sultanas made from the grapes left to dry in the sun or in the oven.

Ingredients

300 gr of chestnut flour, 30 gr of sultanas, 30 gr of pine nuts, grated rind of 1 orange, 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds, extra virgin olive oil, pinch of salt, water

Method

Heat oven to 200° and put sultanas in warm water to make them swell.

Sift the flour, add the salt, then add water beating all the time until you have a smooth batter.

Add the sultanas, the pine nuts (but keep some of both aside and sprinkle over the batter just before you put it i the oven), the grated orange rind and the fennel seeds.

The batter must neither be too thick or too thin.

Grease a shallow, medium sized tray and pour the liquid in, sprinkle the pine nuts and sultanas on top and a little oil, bake in oven for 30 minutes (or when a crust has formed round the sides).

Serve hot or tepid.

There is a slightly different version to this recipe where you can use rosemary instead of fennel seeds.

Chestnut fritters

Once you've made the batter, if you leave it aside for a few hours you can then make delicious fritters.

Just drop spoonfuls of the batter into a pan of hot oil, turning them once.

Drain excess oil on kitchen roll and serve hot.

Recipes taken from the book "Etologia Gastronomica delle Isole di Toscana" by Alvaro Claudi
Photographs Francesca Rovetto
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