Back in May, just before we moved to Scotland, Saveur ran an article that featured a Corsican chestnut cake. The article talked about how chestnuts are the prize crop of Corsica, the mountainous Mediterranean island that claims to be the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte and Christopher Columbus.
David McAninch, the article’s author, was more interested in gastronomy than history, entitling his article Pleasure Island. Corsican flavors run towards a plethora of local ingredients: wild game stews, pungent soft cheeses, fish soups, and fragrant herbs. Desserts almost always call into service the citrus and chestnuts that grow in abundance on the tiny island.
Torta Pisticcina, or chestnut flour cake, is naturally gluten-free and has only a handful of ingredients. As soon as I saw the recipe, I wanted to try it. But where to get chestnut flour in North Carolina?
Fast forward two months to Scotland, and one Friday afternoon when Rob comes home with a bag of chestnut flour, a gift from a co-worker who’s just returned from two weeks in Corsica. I immediately remembered the article from Saveur and dashed out to buy an orange and some almonds.
The cake came together in a snap – no mixer required, which I like – and filled the house with a nutty sweet aroma. I sent it to work with Rob, where they stop for coffee and cake every day mid-morning (really!). He came home with reports that people devoured it, the only comment being that it needed a few minutes more in the oven since the center was a little too soft.
If you get your hands on chestnut flour, try the original recipe. Serve it with strong black coffee in the morning or afternoon. You won’t be disappointed.