The Italians make a sweet chestnut cake called castagnaccio, so I decided to replicate that with acorn flour – the two nuts are remarkably similar. But then I read up on castagnaccio, and saw it was heavy, almost hockey puck-like. So I decided to go French instead, adding leaveners and beaten egg whites to lighten the cake. I found a version of a chestnut cake like this in an old Gourmet magazine, and this acorn cake recipe is a riff off that.
These are lovely done in a 9-inch springform pan, but are equally good in buttered ramekins. Be sure to use a small circle of parchment paper on the bottom of the ramekin, and butter both sides. This will help you get the little cakes out easier. Oh, and don’t forget they rise, so don’t fill them too high.
Dust them with confectioner’s sugar at the end, and if you want to get really fancy, cut out the shape of an oak tree in parchment paper and use it as a stencil.
Since most of you will probably not be rushing out to pound your own acorn flour, you can do this recipe just fine with chestnut flour, which my friend Scott from Sausage Debauchery sells online here.
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup acorn or chestnut flour
- 1/2 cup cake flour or all-purpose wheat flour
- ¼ cup toasted and chopped pine nuts (optional)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 separated eggs
- ½ cup honey
- ¼ cup sugar
- Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
- Butter for greasing pans
- Grease the springform pan or ramekins. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix the acorn flour, wheat flour, baking soda and powder and salt in a bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in another large bowl, beat the egg yolks, oil, honey and 2 tablespoons of sugar together until it looks like caramel. Mix in the dry ingredients.
- In another bowl, add the egg whites and just a pinch of salt and beat into soft peaks. Add the remaining sugar and beat a bit more, so the whites are reaching the firm peak stage.
- Fold this into the dough a little at a time gently.
- Pour, or really gently place, the dough into the ramekins (remember they will rise!) or the springform pan. Using a rubber spatula flatten out the top and place in the oven as fast as you can.
- Bake for about 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, watch for burning, as acorn flour browns faster than chestnut flour. Remove from the oven, let rest 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.
- When they have cooled for a good 15-20 minutes or so, dust with the confectioner’s sugar.