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Last weekend we headed to P’s country place in Taggerty, in the Yarra Valley. The house is situated in the valley of the Cathedral Ranges and there were amazing views of the ranges and the changing leaves.

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This was a food oriented weekend and during the preceding days S & I plotted our cooking exploits. There will be several more Taggerty posts about the great food we enjoyed.

I picked up some chestnuts at the Collingwood Children’s Farm Market the other weekend. As soon as I spied them at the market I grabbed them as I have wanted to make a chestnut cake from fresh chestnuts for some time. I found a recipe from Stephanie Alexander online and used this as a guide, I had to make quite a few adjustments due to lack of ingredients.

The final product was very good, rich and moist, it had a distinct chestnut flavour. The original recipe called for almond meal to be used in addition to the chestnuts but I added in plain flour instead. As a result, the cake had a lightness to it and was not too dense. The chocolate and coffee cream was also popular, even with some friends that confessed not to like cream. Win.

However, I will say that this cake was a lot of work. The chestnuts needed to be boiled, then peeled and sieved. The peeling was time consuming of itself, however grinding the chestnuts to a meal was very challenging, particularly as we didn’t have a food processor. I certainly would not make this again without a food processor to do the heavy lifting and it will be some time before I willingly peel this quantity of chestnuts again.

That said, the cake was delicious and it was even better the next day. Overnight the flavours had developed and it had become even more moist and delicious.

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Chestnut torte with chocolate cream

For the cake

4 egg yolks
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 1/4 cups of cooked, sieved chestnuts (I cooked about 500g to get this amount)
2 tbs rum
5 eggwhites
3/4 cup plain flour (or 1 cup of spelt flour or to make it gluten free, 1 cup of almond meal)

For the cream filling

100g dark chocolate, chopped
4 tbs strong black coffee
1 cup of cream

For the icing

100g butter
125g dark chocolate, chopped

  • Put chestnuts in a saucepan on medium heat and cover with boiling water. Cook for about 20 minutes, until a knife easily cuts through the centre.
  • Strain the chestnuts, then use a serrated knife to cut through the centre of each nut. Peel the chestnuts by hand, they will be very soft and crumbly but this is fine.
  • Place the chestnuts in a food processor and grind to a reasonably fine powder. You could also use a ricer. As we had neither processor or ricer, we used a potato masher and pushed the chestnuts through a sieve. This was very time consuming.

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  • Butter and flour a springform tin (I used a 8 inch tin, but you could use an 10 inch tin). Pre-heat the oven to 170 C.
  • Beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick. Gradually beat in the chestnut meal and the rum.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the whites to stiff peaks.
  • Add the flour to the chestnut mixture, then gently fold in the egg whites.
  • Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 160C and bake for about 35 minutes,  until cooked through. Allow it to cool.

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  • Once the cake has cooled, melt the chopped chocolate with the coffee over a double boiler. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool.
  • Beat the cream until it is firm. Stir through the room temperature chocolate coffee mixture.
  • Split the cake in half. Spread one side with cream and sandwich other layer on top.

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  • For the icing, chop the butter into pieces and melt in a saucepan.
  • Pour the melted butter over the chopped chocolate and stir until combined.
  • Pour the icing over the cake.

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Enjoy!

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6 Responses to “Chestnut torte: autumn in a cake”

  1. Megan says:

    I love chestnuts! And those chestnuts look perfect! Your cake looks perfect! Nicely done! You had to manually crush the chestnuts though, that must be a pain. I would suggest using mortar and pestle? But that’s just as time consuming.

  2. Anna says:

    You do not hear people mention Taggerty very often. I started my life there and lived there until I was two, and my brother and sister grew up there! I am very much looking forward to your Taggerty-related posts! 🙂 Too bad it was probably too cold to take a swim in the beautiful Acheron river…

  3. Reemski says:

    I too learnt my lesson the hard way and had very sore fingers for days after peeling fresh chestnuts. But my goodness, how good is it!

  4. Hannah says:

    I really can’t express how much I would like to sell my first-born child in advance for a slice of this. I just posted about a chestnut confection I had in Paris, and then you pop up here with your amazing do-it-yourselfness. I bow down to you!

    • Emily says:

      Megan: yes a mortar and pestle would have been better, but there wasn’t one in the house! As I said, I really wouldn’t do this again without something like a food processor, ricer or mortar and pestle. It was good though, just time consuming!

      Anna: wow! Taggerty was so beautiful, I actually couldn’t believe it. Some more posts (with lovely pics of Taggerty) will follow I promise, had a crazy week!

      Reemski: agreed. Hard work, but probably worth it!

      Hannah: I saw that Mont Blanc, looked incredible. I had actually toyed with trying to make it myself, though I am not sure I would have succeeded in turning these chestnuts into a puree by hand! Have a go at making the cake – just as I said previously, use a food processor to blend!

      Anon: use either 3/4 cup of regular flour or 1 cup of spelt flour or 1 cup of almond meal. Spelt is not gluten free, rather, it is an ancient form of wheat that does not trouble those with wheat intolerance. I am wheat intolerant so use a lot of spelt flour in my cooking. If you aren’t fussed about it being gluten-free, I would use the 1 cup of spelt flour, as the cake will be lighter than if you use almond meal.

      In relation to using spelt flour more generally, spelt is less water soluble than regular flour. My general rule is to use 20% extra spelt flour when converting from regular flour (so if 1 cup of regular flour is 125g I would use 150g of spelt flour instead). I usually use slightly less baking powder as well, as spelt is low gluten and doesn’t hold the air in food as well as regular all purpose flour would.

      Hope this makes sense and happy baking!

  5. anon says:

    saw your recipe thru a food blog.

    do you use 1c spelt flour as an alternative to ‘regular’ flour? or do you add that with the almond meal to make it gluten free? so..
    1c spelt flour + 1c almond meal = flour substitute?

    thanks. trying to avoid enriched flour.

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