We went foraging for chestnuts the other day. Just check out these babies. The beautiful, glossy nuts live inside these spiky burrs.
We all pitched in to harvest these guys and simply prepared them by taking a sharp paring knife and scored the underside (flat belly). They then get roasted at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. The smell of roasting chestnuts is a gorgeous scent to take in and when they’re just right, roasted chestnuts are sweet and buttery. However, we had nearly 10 pounds leftover even after sharing them with our neighbors and I decided that I would turn some into a few loaves of sweet bread. The results were so delicious. The thick creamy puree imparted a unique flavor to the bread that though wasn’t altogether sweet and custardy like banana bread, was rich and reminiscent of sweet potato or pumpkin bread.
It seems that the preference for chestnuts in the states can be very divided. It’s a much-loved nut overseas as I’ve seen it in everything from French macarons to asian ice creams and I personally think they’re delightful. I think it’s a true shame that they’re not more popular here than they are. Their occasional appearance in holiday stuffing makes me sad. I know I always look forward to sharing chestnuts with my mother who is by far the biggest fan I’ve ever met. She was a very sickly child and always reminds us when we eat chestnuts how they were one of the few things she could stomach. We can spend hours chit chatting, cracking chestnuts, nibbling on them and completely forgetting the time. They’re much easier to peel when they’re first cooked and hot, particularly their second fuzzy coat so even when they’re a bit warm to touch, we sacrifice the tips of our fingers all for the love of these nuts, haha.
On this particular day, I separated my glorious piles of freshly peeled chestnuts and create a puree with some of them. To do so, you take 2 cups of your roasted nuts, 1/2 c Sugar, 2 c Water and bring it to a boil on low for another 25-30 minutes. Cool, blend (or blitz in a processor), and strain through a sieve if desired.
- 4 room temperature eggs
- 2 c sugar
- 1 c canola/veggie oil
- 2 c unbleached flour
- 2 ts baking soda
- 1½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 2 c chestnut purée
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- In your first bowl, blend together your eggs and sugar. Slowly pour in your Oil/Butter.
- In your second bowl, sift together all of your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.
- In three separate additions, tip your second bowl into your first bowl to combine, taking care not to over mix.
- Lastly stir in your purée and splash in your vanilla.
- Bake in a well greased loaf pan at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.