I didn’t begin baking cakes until I moved to France. Because the French seem to dine out less (opting to have friends and family over for a meal), I saw a lot of cake-baking going on. I never dreamed I would one day join in the flurry of farine (flour) by asking a hostess if there was something sweet I might bring! To this day making any kind of food for the French still intimidates me… thankfully, I have found ways around such cooking cowardess… by making recipes with 5 ingredients or less!
Here is one of my favorites (only 3 ingredients–not counting the topping or the optional corn starch!). This Chestnut Cake is a standby of my French aunt, Marie-Françoise. She sometimes surprises us with the cake on a hectic bottling day (we live on a busy vineyard), or during harvest time. And we are often treated to this delicious dessert during family get-togethers. It is a cake to make in a pinch and a cake that is a cinch!
- 1 can (500 grams or around 17 ounces) of canned chestnut puree
- 50 grams (around 2 ounces) of butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 or 2 tablespoons of cornstarch (= farine de maïs in French. Brand names include “Maïzena” in any supermarkets, crème de maïs at Leader Price, fine de maïs under the Francine brand).
1. Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F) Mix softened butter and chestnut spread together. Stir in 3 eggs (you can beat the eggs whites… or simply keep the eggs whole and whisk them in (as I do) with the butter and chestnut puree.
**Optional: 1-3 tablespoons of corn starch can be added to the mix.
2. Pour mixture into a (greased-with-butter) shallow cake pan (a tart pan is perfect!). Place pecans over the top. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes (do not overcook! The “cake” is flat as a tart, therefore it tends to cook quickly!). Decorating the cake with confectioner’s sugar is optional (and oh-so-good!).
If you enjoyed this recipe, you might want a check our article on backing gluten free in France.