Have a GRAIN Holiday!

Funny how the most open-ended requests are often the most challenging to fulfill. Narrow down the criteria to something incredibly specific, to what might be consider severely limited, even, and that’s where it’s easy to excel. The answer has almost been handed over, outlined in great detail about what it must or must not be, so it’s hard to go too far wrong. When tasked with creating something as vague as a “holiday dessert,” however, my mind goes blank. With endless paths to go down or ideas to explore, how can one determine what would be best?

Similarly, the concept of creating a recipe that simply must have flour as an ingredient left me just short of baffled. Flour, that ubiquitous ground wheat product, is so prevalent in this household that I’d swear I could sweep up all the dust on the shelves and bake a loaf of bread with it. After churning out hundreds of desserts over the past decade, it takes a deliberate effort not to start a recipe with flour.

That’s what made Hodgson Mill‘s call to arms equally enticing and perplexing. Mandating only that recipes include one or more of their whole grain flours, such an ambiguous lure proved impossible to resist. Surely I could make something with flour- What else do I do? And yet the concepts flew by, turning out only cakey, disappointing scones and a platter of cookies with an identity crisis, seeming more like little pies than discrete 2-bite confections. Given so much free rein, I didn’t quite know what to do with myself.

Until I focused my attention on chestnuts, that is. Gravely undervalued, these nuts have only a short window of availability, and rarely get the attention they deserve. Thinking more about the featured flavors than the construction allowed me to get around my baker’s block and create something truly prize-winning, if only amongst my taste testers.

Creating a hearty crumb that isn’t too dense, a blend of both whole wheat pastry flour and bread flour lends this sweet loaf a unique texture, slightly fluffier than your average pound cake. Chestnuts are blended to weave their unique essence into every bite, paired with sizable pieces for toothsome pops of nutty flavor. Though icing is typically an after though, something that could be listed as optional, this particular spicy topping is absolutely essential to contrast the hearty crumb. Don’t rush it either; the crunch and slight cooling sensation it provides after it hardens is critical to maximum enjoyment.

Yield: Makes 1 Loaf Cake; 8 – 10 Servings

Chestnut Pound Cake

Chestnut Pound Cake

Tender roasted chestnuts are woven into every bite of this wholesome cake. Warmly spiced icing set up to a crunchy contrast on top for maximum satisfaction.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes


Chestnut Pound Cake:

  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Bread Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Cornstarch
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
  • 10 Ounces (About 1 1/2 Cups) Whole Roasted and Shelled Chestnuts, Divided
  • 1/2 Cup Plain Non-Dairy Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract

Spiced Icing:

  • 1 Cup Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • Pinch Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons Water


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan.
    In a large bowl, sift together both flours along with the confectioner’s sugar, cornstarch, baking powder and soda, and salt. Roughly chop half of the chestnuts and toss them in, stirring to coat with flour to help prevent the pieces from all sinking to the bottom while baking. Set aside.
  2. Place the oil, brown sugar, and the remaining half of the chestnuts into the container of your blender or food processor and thoroughly puree. Pause to scrape down the sides if necessary, ensuring that everything is smoothly combined. Add in the “milk,” cinnamon, vinegar, vanilla, and almond extract, blending once more to incorporate.
  3. Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl of dry goods, and stir with a wide spatula just enough to bring the batter together. A few small lumps are far better than an overworked, tough cake. Pour the batter to your prepared pan and bake for 50 – 60 minutes, until amber brown all over an a toothpick inserted into the center pulls out cleanly. Let sit in the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. To prepare the icing, simply whisk together all of the ingredient, slowly adding water one drop at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. Drizzle generously over the top of the cake and allow it 1 – 2 hours to set and harden. Slice, serve, and enjoy!

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 400Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 179mgCarbohydrates: 65gFiber: 4gSugar: 28gProtein: 6g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.

36 thoughts on “Have a GRAIN Holiday!

  1. That chestnut pound cake looks amazing! I love that there are chestnuts floating around in the dough–the texture must be incredible.

    No Thanksgiving baking for me (I actually practiced saying ‘no’ and ordered rolls from the bakery) but you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be whipping up some fruit and chocolate pastries for Christmas!

  2. Beautiful recipe Hannah! You’re right, chestnuts don’t get the attention they deserve and I’m very guilty in that respect. This would be perfect on a Thanksgiving or Christmas table, perfect with a mug of coffee or tea to finish a meal. Good luck in the contest!

  3. Here in Tasmania we actually get a short chestnut season that I take full advantage of. I adore them. My daughters, who love all things gourmet, bought some chestnut cream, a decadent French creation that doesn’t actually contain cream but that is like a type of lemony sweet chestnut butter and I instantly fell in love with it. There is something about that mealy smooth sweet texture of a perfectly cooked chestnut that drives me wild. I saw this recipe and started to think of Christmas. No chestnuts available at all here at Christmas and I never associate them with our hot summer Christmases but this recipe would grace our Christmas table and would give me that special decadent treat at the end of our meal that would scream “CHRISTMAS” at the top of it’s lungs :). Cheers for exciting my brain at 5.17am…not much else does! ;)

    1. Oh yes, chestnut cream is incredible! I once found a canned version, but it was painfully expensive, pasty, and over-sweetened to boot. Such a disappointment, but proof that homemade is really the only way to go. We usually roast at least one big batch of chestnuts in our fireplace every Chanukah, but otherwise that’s it. Still, I can’t imagine going one holiday season without them… Now I’m so curious as to how you might make a cool-weather chestnut dish! It probably wouldn’t be the same, right?

    1. That is hands-down the best kind of compliment! I’m so happy that you keep coming back, too. :)

      To get around the chestnut issue, perhaps you could try substituting soaked hazelnuts if you still wanted to make the recipe. It would necessarily taste different, but hopefully delicious in a whole new way.

  4. We’re baking Thanksgiving pizzas given that it’s just my boyfriend and I. Hopefully it’ll be a fun twist on the usual holiday fare.

  5. I’m going to be honest, I don’t think I have ever eaten a chestnut. I should remedy this soon.
    This week I am knee deep in pumpkin, pecan, apple, and cherry pie for the bakery. But as soon as I have more than a few hours to sleep off, I am going to make a load of sourdough bread with cranberries and walnuts in it!

  6. In a wheelchair this Thanksgiving, so I just get to supervise the baking. Not sure what will come after pumpkin pie, but I know it will all be vegan.

  7. I hope you win, Hannah. Happy Thankgiving! And chestnuts are only undervalued here We ate them roasted growing up, but we are Polish. The French also know the value of a lovely autumnal chestnut. I’m going to have to go procure some. Now I’m craving them!

  8. Go, Hannah! I love chestnuts, and would totally dog that bread! As for me, I think I’ll be doing a Walnut Molasses Pie this year instead of my regular Pecan Pie. Walnuts seem to be underused as a main dessert ingredient, too.

  9. I definitely don’t do enough with chestnuts during the holiday season though I always intend to! This pound cake sounds delicious and totally addictive. :) I am making a pumpkin roll with cream cheese frosting this year!

  10. One of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes is pecan pie. Traditional, I know, but it’s something you can ALWAYS expect on the table. I love baking them!

  11. This not only sounds delicious (love the ingredients!), but it LOOKS stunning, too! This would make a perfect brunch loaf at Thanksgiving. . . hope you have a VERY happy one, Hannah! Big hugs. xoxo Ricki

  12. I simply ADORE chestnuts! And would gravitate towards any kind of chestnut desserts. The pound cake looks really beautiful and its texture so perfect! Wish I could have a slice now!

  13. You did a superb job with your challenge and chestnuts are so very festive and a crunchy way to make this bread special. I have all the luck in the world both my oven and stove top are broken and after 2 days and at least 5 or 6 Cantonese only speaking repair persons, I can safely say I will be making anything that can be done on our gas outdoors grill. turkey on the grill or over a campfire. I bet one could even bake bread on a grill. I guess I will let you know how this whole weekend goes. I am always up for a good challenge. Happy Holidays to you. BAM

  14. This looks tasty! I’m making chocolate banana pie adapted from your recipe and another I found. And pumpkin pie, of course. :-)

  15. Ah, I love chestnuts :D I was just talking to my friend about a stuffing recipe she’s planning to make for tomorrow (Thanksgiving) that includes them, too. I’ll have to put this chestnut bread on my to-do list :)

  16. This recipe looks great for this Christmas. Can i use granulated sugar instead? If no, then how can i turn a granulated sugar into a confectioner’s sugar?

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