Chestnut Flour Cake

This must be one of the very oldest of all the cakes eaten in poor Italian households. It is extraordinarily nourishing and full of goodness and used to be a great favourite with schoolchildren, who would take hot thick slices of it wrapped in paper to eat on the way to school. Chestnut flour is available at good Italian delicatessens.


  • 115 g (4 oz) sultanas
  • 450 g (1 lb) chestnut flour, sieved
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • cold water
  • olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary


Cover the sultanas with cold water and leave them to soak for 15 minutes; drain and dry. Mix together the chestnut flour and salt and stir in enough cold water to make a batter which is slightly thicker than pancake batter.

Oil a shallow cake tin and pour in the batter, smooth it with a spoon, then scatter over the caraway seeds, pine nuts, rosemary and sultanas.

Drizzle a little more oil over the top and bake in a moderately hot oven (190°C, 375°F, gas mark 5) for 10 – 15 minutes or until the surface is crispy. Serve warm or cold with chilled white wine.