It is now a matter of fact! When summer gives way to autumn, we suddenly become more greedy. The oven, this stranger, forgotten for 3 months due to the intense heat, is switched on again, and we get again the urge to experiment some new recipe.
Maybe inspired by the massive return of cooking programs, maybe charmed by the image of Ernst Knam tasting cakes, or maybe simply driven by the pleasure of cooking for someone while outside it’s raining, but, when October comes back again, the desire for home-made cakes ignites again inside of us.
In Valdichiana Senese, however, there are no 5-layer cakes, nor cakes with a French name. Here, the cakes are simple, essential, rustic, sometimes a bit ugly too, but anyway good, excellent indeed!
And no, we will not talk about cantucci (that you can always learn with the Tuscan pastry class by Valdichiana Living) , whose recipe now is renowned throughout the world; we will reveal the ingredients and processes to prepare the typical autumn’s desserts in Valdichiana Senese.
As you can see by the name, the main ingredient of this typically autumnal sweet is chestnut flour. Castagnaccio was already known in the 16th century, when it was prepared by farmers as a peasant cake. Only in the 19th century, it was enriched with raisin and pine nuts. To prepare it, you need 300gr of chestnut flour, 4 tablespoons of sugar, 1 glass of water, and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Once mixed, add raisin and pine nuts, and let them cook about 180 ° for about half an hour. The result is a rustic and delicate sweet at the same time, which encapsulates all the flavors of autumn.
Another specialty of Valdichiana Senese, the ciaccia dei santi (also known as pan co’ santi), is a classic Sienese pastry related to the recurrence of November 1, namely the All Saints Day. You need 700g of flour, 50g of brewer’s yeast, 1 glass and a half of extra virgin olive oil, 4 tablespoons of sugar, 500g of raisin, 300g of nuts, 1 tablespoon of pepper, and a pinch of salt. After toasting the nuts in a pan with a little oil, melt the brewer’s yeast in lukewarm water. Put in a large bowl the ingredients, adding the brewer’s yeast just as last. At this point, mix all ingredients, forming a big ball, and let it rise in the bowl for at least 3 hours, covered with a cloth. When the dough is risen, divide it into 4 pats, trace a cross on each one, coat it with the yolk of an egg, and bake for 30-35 minutes at 180 ° C.
Summer has borne its fruit, and those who have had the patience to pick them up and boil them, has a pantry filled with “sucine” jam, as they say here, namely plums. The recipe for the tart is that of the classic “grandma” cake, but the secret residesin the jam. Jam of sucine combines very well with shortcrust pastry, creating a perfect blend between the sweet of the pastry, and the sour taste of plums. The same mix that remembers that the summer is being over, and a new time of the year is going to start.