Chestnut & Almond Cake – Gluten-free, Dairy-free

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It has taken longer than I intended to post this recipe because cake number two and three didn’t turn out as planned when experimenting and I wanted to make certain by the fourth one I had ironed out problems.

The cake has a lovely mousse texture, very soft, although in photos it appears solid, it’s light.  If you’ve made an almond cake it has that same breakable easiness when you put your fork through it, but this is lighter than an almond cake because of the amount of chestnut puree and the egg whites being whisked separately.  It also has a very small amount of added fat in comparison to lots of other cakes.

I came across the original recipe for this cake a few weeks ago saved on my computer but with no reference to where I took it from.  Last year I was on a mission to make chestnut cake and never got around to it.  I imagine I came across this recipe and saved it for a later date.  It’s written in Portuguese and thought it must be from my blogger friend Manuela at Tertúlia de Sabores blog, but it’s not, she thinks it’s possibly Brazilian.   If anyone knows where it’s from let me know and I can reference to it properly.

First Cake – Allergy Kid Turns Cake Out

My first cake was a great success (below) but it stuck to the tin, appearing as if in a cake-crash.

Allergy kid had to turn out the cake for me and when I returned home, she said it was the most nerve-racking experience in her life and she was never going to do it again…so please could I never ask her to do it again.  I smiled and told her these things happen.

I loved the texture, soft and mousse-like.  The cake was a hit with 4 year old, Bikerboy and father-in-law.

The chestnut puree is like chestnut flour, bland, and when cooked you don’t get a distinctive chestnut flavour but it’s there giving moisture to the cake as well as adding to the overall lightness of it.

Keep it at room temperature and it will stay moist for days.

Second Cake – Chestnut Flour

My second attempt (below) was replacing the ground almonds with chestnut flour since I had some leftover from making Chestnut Madeleines here, it made sense.

However, I didn’t like the results anywhere near as much as with the ground almonds.  The chestnut flour gave a heavier result losing that mousse texture I loved so much with the ground almonds.

Third Cake – Baking Times

The third cake I went back to ground almonds but this time instead of using dairy-free margarine I used oil.  Unfortunately I completely under-estimated the baking time and the mixture was practically raw in the centre.

I used a normal 20cm (8 inch) tin.  It’s difficult to judge if it’s done because putting a cocktail stick through doesn’t work since the stick will come out clean even when raw like this.

Chestnut Puree

I can buy ready unsweetened chestnut puree in a can as in the photo below but you can obviously boil down and puree your own.

Chocolate Ganache Covering

I’ve made it for my recipe dairy-free ganache but if you don’t have to, I love ganache made with cream, it is heavenly.  For the cream version of ganache there are numerous variations of how much cream to add to the amount of chocolate.

150g-200g of chocolate covers 8 inch cake well.  You can add half of that amount in cream or all the way up to equal amounts of cream to chocolate.  I have seen recipes for ganache with more cream to chocolate ratio.  Bring the the cream to just under boiling, off heat add the chocolate in bits and stir until melted.

Dairy-free Chocolate Ganache

I added some liquid glucose and dairy-free margarine.  The liquid glucose will give the initial lovely shine but the shine will subdue when set, it’s there to stop the chocolate from hardening too much when set.

Chestnut & Almond Cake (Gluten-free, Dairy-free)

160˚C fan/180˚C/ 360F / gas 4

Cake tin 20cm / 8inch or one like I used first time.

  • 4 large eggs separated
  • 200g sugar, granulated or caster (super-fine)
  • 100g butter melted.  Can be replace with 70g of vegetable oil or 100g dairy-free margarine melted.
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 400g chestnut puree (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional but lovely)

For Dairy-free Chocolate Covering

  • 200g chocolate (see note)
  • 2 teaspoon of liquid glucose
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 70g dairy-free margarine

Note:  If I’m making it for those who are not lovers of dark chocolate I’ll use a dark chocolate that’s 50% cocoa solids. Waitrose do one in the eating chocolate section as appose to the cooking chocolate aisle.

Making the Cake:

Whisk the yolks and sugar together until the mixture is creamy with an electric whisk.  At first the mixture will go into dry little lumps like photo above but keep persisting and it will cream up like the photo below.

Once the mixture has reached that stage, add the melted butter (or dairy-free margarine/oil) and whisk it in for a few seconds.

Now add ground almonds, chestnut puree, lemon zest, baking powder, vanilla extract.

Whisk again until well combined.

In a large bowl whisk egg whites until they form stiff peaks. (wash whisks, egg whites doesn’t like fat).  Add a third of the mixture into the cake and fold it in well.  Then add all of the egg whites and fold it in.  Pour into tin.

Bake.  For the tin below with a hole in the middle 40mins, for normal 20cm cake tin, 50min – 1hr.

Making the Dairy-free Chocolate Covering

Put the chocolate, liquid glucose and dairy-free butter in the microwave until melted.  I give 1 minute check if soft and it’s usually soft enough in a total of one and half minutes then stir, there should be enough heat in the bowl to melt down chocolate completely.

You may need to wait a few minutes before chocolate has cooled a bit and thicken enough to pour over the cake.  If it’s too liquid it will just run off the cake.

Cover the cake with a third of the chocolate first to give it a first layer of chocolate.

Then add the rest of the chocolate.  I like to spread it to the edges and let it drizzle down the sides.

The original recipe I based mine on was the following:

400 g de castanhas portuguesas já cozidas, sem casca e sem pele
100 g de de amêndoas
200 g de açúcar
100 g de manteiga sem sal
4 ovos inteiros
Raspa da casca de 1 limão
Açúcar de confeiteiro para decorar

Cozinhe as castanhas em água com uma pitada de sal e um pouquinho de sementes de erva doce. Reduza a um purê, usando um garfo, amassador de batatas ou a batedeira. Triture as amêndoa no processador para obter uma farinha grossa. Separe as claras das gemas. Bata as gemas com o açúcar, e adicione a manteiga derretida e a raspa do limão. De seguida junte as amêndoas e as castanhas em purê e envolva tudo nas claras, já batidas em neve.

Unte uma forma de torta ou bolo funda com manteiga e farinha, e leve para assar em forno pré-aquecido em a 355ºF/ 180 ºC por uma meia hora [*o meu levou mais tempo, vá testando]. Deixe esfriar, desenforme e decore generosamente com açúcar de confeiteiro.