Chestnuts. To even call this a nut seems like setting yourself up to be disillusioned. However, for all intents and purposes it is a nut. Learning how to work with it takes someone very knowledgeable of the flavor and texture, not to mention all the forms it’s available in. Due to the fact that we no longer grow them prolifically here in the US this can be a pricey adventure. All that being said I would encourage you to try out this historic ingredient.
I first got the bug to try chestnuts when seeing a recipe in Dandelion and Quince for Celeriac and Chestnut Stuffing and decided to do this for Thanksgiving. I was able to track down chestnuts at a Whole Foods. They were still in their shells and cost about $5.99 a pound. This lead us to experimenting with roasting them, shelling them, and storing them. Let me just say after roasting nearly 20 pounds of them this holiday season we have decided to buy them shelled from Amazon. There they come prepackaged, in three 5.2-ounce bags for $10.25. It’s hard to compare the pound to pound cost since one is in shells and one is not. Also the ones in shells you can often get “bad nuts”and not to mention not having to roast them is worth something too.
For this cake however I didn’t need chestnuts. Instead I needed Chestnut Flour and Chestnut Purée. Both of which I was able to get on Amazon. The Chestnut Flour was by far the priciest ingredient. For a 500 gram bag it was $20. Yes, that is a lot more than I normally pay for flour but this is a hand crafted ingredient and imported for Italy. It’s also a little easier to stomach the cost when the recipe only calls for a few tablespoons so that bag goes a long way. The other ingredient is Chestnut Purée. That packaging calls it chestnut spread with vanilla and for the one jar it’s about $12. What I like about this recipe is that you use the whole jar so there’s no left over half used jar.
The last “special” ingredient I used for this was lingonberries. The recipe called for raspberries but since they aren’t in season and lingonberries are more true to this time of year I thought it could be fun. I found them in the freezer section of our local co-op in their hand packed frozen ingredients case.
So for this cake there are many components. There is the cake, the syrup, the filling, the frosting, and the chocolate sauce… Wow, you’re still reading? You must be adventurous! Time to gather all the ingredients and make the Chestnut Layer Cake with Lingonberries from the Seasonal Baker!
- FOR THE CHESTNUT SPONGE CAKE
- 68 grams Cake Flour
- 60 grams Cornstarch
- 26 grams Chestnut Flour
- 3 Eggs, at room temperature
- 3 Egg Yolks, at room temperature
- 100 grams Granulated Sugar
- ¾ teaspoon Coarse Salt
- 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
- 6 ounces Canola Oil
- FOR THE SYRUP:
- 50 grams Granulated Sugar
- 2 fl ounces Water
- FOR THE CHESTNUT BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
- 5 Egg Whites, room temperature 5-6 ounces
- 266 grams Granulated Sugar
- Pinch of Coarse Salt
- 1 pound Unsalted Butter, firm but not cold
- ½ teaspoon Vanilla Paste
- 17 ½ ounce can Chestnut Puree, vanilla flavored (494 grams)
- FOR THE LINGONBERRY FILLING:
- 1 pound Lingonberries
- 4 ounces Water
- 200 grams Granulated Sugar (up to 500 grams)
- FOR THE BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE SAUCE
- 20 grams Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 50 grams Granulated Sugar
- 4 fl ounces Half-n-Half
- 30 milliliters Light Corn Syrup
- 4 ounces 66% Chocolate
- Pinch of coarse Salt
FOR THE CAKE:
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF with the rack in the lower third of the oven. Grease a 9-inch square pan and line with parchment. Set aside.
- In a bowl, sift together the cake flour, cornstarch, and chestnut flour. Set aside.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar, salt, and vanilla until pale and light in color. When thick and doubled in volume you should see ribbons forming in the batter was the whisk works it’s way through. Slowly drizzle in the oil until full incorporated. Remove from the mixer and add the flour in two portions folding in completely after each portion.
- Pour the prepared batter into the cake pan and bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until the a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack. This can be done in advance. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate once cooled until ready to use. Refrigerating will make it easier to divide.
The original recipe called for folding the oil in after the flour was folded in. By doing this it ended up deflating the batter significantly and I ended up with a thinner, denser cake. Having done my fair share of cakes and other homogenizing kitchen projects it occurred to me to slowly drizzle the oil in when whipping the egg mixture. By doing this I was able to keep most of the air in the cake and ended up with a lighter and taller cake. By doing it both ways I ended up with a three layer cake.
FOR THE SYRUP:
In a small sauce pan add the sugar and 2 ounces of water. Bring to a boil then removed from the heat pour it into a bowl and fully cool before using it.
FOR THE FROSTING:
- Set up a double boiler by putting no more than an inch of water in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. In a heat proof bowl add the whites, sugar, and salt. Place the bowl over the saucepan and whisk for 2 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer add the egg white mixture and beat with a whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. With the machine still running add the butter one piece at a time. The mixture will start looking super shiny and then as the butter is added it will look clumpy. As the butter softens and gets fully whipped the frosting will become thick and smooth. Once smooth add the vanilla and 250 grams of the purée. (Reserve the remaining purée for assembling the cake.)
FOR THE LINGONBERRIES:
Combine the berries, sugar, and water in 4 quart saucepan. Bring everything to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. Let fully cool before using. This can also be made in advance.
FOR THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE:
Combine the cocoa, sugar, half-n-half, corn syrup, chocolate and salt in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil stir smooth and set aside.
TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:
- Thoroughly chill the cake. Split the cake into two or three layers. (For the photo I did two batches of cake and ended up with three layers.)
- Place one layer on the cake plate brush with half the syrup (about 1 ½ ounces) to moisten. Pipe a boarder of the butter cream.
- Spread a layer of chestnut purée 120 grams, top with 120 grams lingonberries. Repeat for all three layers. When doing the top layer pipe a scalloped pattern.
Place some of the chocolate sauce on the plate and then top with a slice of the cake.
So, if you’re wanting a wonderfully different cake for the holidays or for winter this cake is a winner! The chestnut flavor is subtle but distinct. This cake is going into my recurring holiday recipes.