The crumbly qualities of chestnuts lend themselves to much more than simply being roasted
With more and more flour varieties popping up everyday on our supermarket shelves, here at be. magazine we decided to give fancy chestnut flour a try. Sweet and rich, this ancient ingredient imparts a delicate, fragrant flavour to any cake or crepe and is a seasonal must-try.
Inspired after meeting Rita and Baden Franceswilliams of Ruefleur Chestnuts in Olinda, Victoria, we tackled their recipe for chestnut cake and were beautifully surprised with the results.
While the egg whites proved the trickiest of the steps – sometimes those pesky peaks are hard to come by – this straightforward recipe really lets the flavour of the chestnuts shine and the moist texture was hard to beat. We went with brown sugar over white, adding a darker, richer quality and served it slightly warm. The roasted hazelnuts are a delicious accompaniment.
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1 cup chestnut flour
1/4 cup hazelnuts
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup mild honey (chestnut honey if you can get it!)
1/4 cup sugar
1. Place an oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 180C.
2. Spray a 9-inch spring-form pan with non-stick spray and dust with chestnut flour.
3. Roast the hazelnuts in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Rub the nuts in a kitchen towel to remove the loose skins. Some skin will probably remain. Chop until medium fine in a food processor.
4. Mix together the chestnut flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then stir in the hazelnuts.
5. In another bowl, beat together the egg yolks, oil, honey and 2 tablespoons of sugar until thick and pale – about 5 minutes.
6. Add the flour mixture and mix at low speed until well mixed.
7. Beat egg whites and a pinch of salt in another bowl with clean beaters until they form soft peaks. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar a little at a time until the whites hold a soft peak.
8. Fold into the cake mix 1/3 at a time until well mixed.
9. Pour into cake pan and bake 30 minutes. Then loosely cover with aluminium foil and bake another 10-15 minutes.
10. Place on rack to cool. Remove from tin.
11. Dust with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream and chopped hazelnuts.
Other ways to use chestnuts this autumn
- Chestnut-flower honey
- Simmered and pureed in soups
- Whipped with cream in a chocolate terrine
- Slow-cooked in stock and spooned over meat dishes
- Chopped through stir-fries and pasta dishes
- Roasted over an open flame
Learn more about the goodness of chestnuts at chestnutfarmvic.com