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.
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
- 1 Cup Confectioner’s Sugar
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
- Pinch Ground Nutmeg
- 1 – 2 Tablespoons Water
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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Frontier Natural Products, Organic Ceylon Cinnamon, 1.76 oz (50 g)
Rodelle Reserve Pure Vanilla Extract, 6.75 Ounce
Galil Organic Roasted Chestnuts - 3.5 Oz Bags (Pack Of 3) - Shelled - Ready To Eat Snack, Gluten Free, All Natural, No Preservatives - Great for Snacking, Baking & Cooking - 100% Vegan
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.