Magic in the kitchen
Chestnut puree cake
Limousin region, where myself and my husband Peter are living and running our wonderful Bed & Breakfast La Croix Du Reh now for nine years, is known for its meat production, especially the world-famous Limousin beef. It is the region of nature with plenty of forests, rivers and lakes. Hundreds of mushroom pickers come from other regions every autumn.
|Also Limousin is one of the main producers of chestnuts in France. The chestnut tree is very symbolic for Limousin: the regional logo of Limousin is represented by a chestnut tree leaf and chestnut trees are also used as a building material with many old houses having been adorned with beautiful chestnut parquet floors and staircases.|
Chestnut trees are called sometimes ” bread tree”, because chestnuts were a major, if not the only part, of a local diet during the hard times of food shortages. It is therefore no surprise that chestnuts are still widely used in the local cuisine.
Recently, I had an opportunity to attend a three day cookery course in Limoges. This was my first ever experience with a professional chef hand to hand on the other side of the counter, in a professional kitchen. And … I loved it! It was fabulous
The course was called “Cuisiner Limousin”. The idea is to get experience in cooking regional Limousin cuisine using as much local produce as possible. Of course half of the dishes that we discovered used chestnuts. All this and pre-Christmas thinking about what to cook for Christmas or New Year celebration inspired me to come up with a Chestnut spread (puree) cake recipe.
What I have come up with is a gluten-free version, very much like my Tired Fruits Cake. But if you don’t want to use ground almonds, please feel free to substitute them with white all-purpose flour.
- 400 gr sweet chestnut puree*
- 5 medium eggs
- 100 gr light brown or white sugar **
- 100 gr softened butter
- 1 – 2 tbs Rum
- 300 gr Ground almonds
- 1 1/2 ts baking powder
- marrons glacés (chestnuts candied in sugar syrup and glazed) – OPTIONAL
For cream Chantilly:
- 300 ml whipping cream (or double cream)
- 80 gr sugar
- 1 vanilla pod (or 2-3 drops of liquid vanilla extract)
Note: * if using unsweetened chestnut puree, increase the sugar quantity** to 200 gr
1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC.
2. Whisk softened butter and sugar, then add all the other ingredients and mix well.
* You don’t have to use a food processor. I use it because I have one and it makes the preparation quicker.
3. Butter and line a 21cm 26cm springform tin. I use silicone cake 26cm form, that does not need neither greasing nor lining.
4. Pour the cake mixture into it. Bake the cake for an hour to an hour and a half, or until it feels more or less firm to touch. If it starts burning on the top, cover with foil or greaseproof paper.
5. Remove cake from the oven, cover with a tea towel and leave to cool on the rack, without taking it out of the cake form. If preparing in advance, you can leave the cake to cool down over night in the oven after switching the power off. In the morning put it in the fridge without removing it from the form until you want to decorate it.
6 Whip the cream with sugar and vanilla and decorate the cake to your taste with a few candied chestnuts scattered on the top. BON APPETITE!