I’m sitting in my little office in Hornsea – it’s 3.40 pm and the sky is very, very grey, soon to be black, and it’s raining heavily. Oh well, winter is really coming to East Yorkshire now. But what with our new black log-burner and our newly decorated cosy lounge, I don’t really care about the weather. So back to the blog, and searching for more recipes using Sweet Chestnuts. This recipe, Torta di Serretto, is from Jenni Muir on the BBC Food Recipe site.
Jenni says that this Italian cake is easy and ‘truly irresistible’. So definitely one to have a go at making in our Hornsea kitchen. It is named after the fictional chef, Giovanni Serretto, in the drama series La Mappa Misteriosa. It is very similar to the classic and traditional cake called ‘Castagnaccio’. See what you think.
This recipe, Torta di Serretto (with Chestnuts) sounds like a very easy cake to make, and I swear I could smell the honey as I was typing this. Doing all the research on the history of the Sweet Chestnut tree, and how it arrived in this country, (bought by the Romans), this recipe for Torta di Serretto sounds very similar to one the Roman soldiers wrapped up and carried with them as sustenance on their long marches across country. I shall be making this one very soon - imagine Erik and myself collapsed on our squashy settee, in front of our roaring log-burner, eating a big slice of this topped with a dollop of thick cream. Winter is meant for times like this.
- 225 g/8 oz butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
- 250 g/9 oz honey, plus 1-2 tbsp to glaze
- 100 g/3 1/2 oz light brown sugar
- 3 large free range eggs
- 300 g/10 1/2 oz Tipo 00 flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 6 tbsp chopped cooked chestnuts (freshly roasted, tinned or vacuum-packed)
- 4 tbsp pine nuts
- 1 tsp flaky sea salt
- Thick cream, to serve (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas3. Butter and line a 20 cm/8 in or 23cm/9 cm springform cake tin.
- Put the cubed butter in a saucepan with the honey and sugar and melt them together slowly, stirring occasionally. Once dissolved, bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for one minute, turning the heat down as necessary to ensure the pan doesn't boil over. Set aside to cool for 20 mins.
- Beat the eggs together in a jug, then stir the into the cooled honey mixture. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre.
- Pour the honey mixture into the flour and stir, gradually incorporating the flour. As soon as it it well combined, stir in the fennel seeds and four tablespoons of the chopped chestnuts.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin. Combine the remaining chestnuts with the pine nuts and flaky sea salt in a small bowl and sprinkle them over the top of the cake.
- Bake for 45-60 mins, or until the cake has risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Leave the cake to cool in the tin for five minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack.
- Warm two tablespoons of honey in a small pan until runny, then brush it generously over the top of the cake. You can serve the cake warm with the thick cream as a dessert, or leave it to cool completely, wrap in foil and store in an airtight tin, where it should keep for four days. (Mine won't last that long!)