Chestnut flour is very versatile and a valid alternative to cereals if you’re gluten intolerant; it’s also sweeter than most flours and as such it’s perfect for preparing desserts – like these Chestnut Crêpes with Ricotta & Persimmon Cream or the Castagnaccio, a traditional flat cake from Tuscany.
The small drawback of chestnut flour is that it’s relatively expensive; but chestnuts, with their high caloric content, have been in the past an important part of the meal for many communities living in mountainous regions. It’s possible to grind one’s own chestnut flour at home, and this helped families avoid the taxes charged on milling. Chestnuts were then rightly known as the ‘bread of the poor’.
Makes: about 1.6 kg of flour | Preparation time: 5 mins | Cooking time: 2 h
- Chestnuts, fresh: 2 kg
- Water: as needed
Boil chestnuts in a large pot with plenty of unsalted water for 30 to 40 minutes. Chestnuts are ready when it’s easy to peel them completely, including the thin inner layer of red skin; remove them from the water and let them cool down a bit before individually peeling them.
Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
Place the peeled chestnuts on a baking tray and wait for them to be completely cold before baking them to 160°C for 1 hour. They should come out of the oven all dried up, not burnt though. Allow them to cool down.
Put some chestnuts in a food processor and blend them until you get to a very fine powder. Add all the chestnuts, a little amount at a time to avoid straining the food processor. Your chestnut flour is ready to be used in a recipe!
Tip: You can store the flour in sealable plastic bags – and even freeze it.