Samhain Chestnut and Almond Cake

Chestnut and almond cake

I went a bit nuts today; I went to the woods in search of inspiration for a cake I wanted to create for a long time… I also wanted to find myself, drifting and surfing on long gone memories when we had a family, when we spent October Sundays harvesting chestnuts in the forest back home. I love that descent into darkness, I feel great again, knowing that the clock will go back to its original solar time. I feel restored, in harmony with nature. We didn’t have Halloween, but we had the great “Legends of Death”, gathered from all around Brittany by Breton writer Anatole Le Braz, Anatole “The Great” or so it translates. The first time I read the book, I was 17, and after a couple of chapters, I went to sleep, or rather to bed, I don’t think I closed my eye lids that night… “Samhain” the Celtic origins of Halloween, when the wheel turns, welcoming the darker side of the year… I am aware that a lot of people feel depressed at this time of year, I get it, I sympathise and I don’t go on too much about it. I asked a Scandinavian friend of mine once, on how they deal with six months hardly seing the sun? She just replied: “we live in each other’s houses, we are very sociable folks”. I was humbled… What a great attitude…

The Autumn leaves, of red and gold…

I often go to the forest with my dead folks; my mother, my Grandfather, my Grandmother, friends of mine who didn’t make it. They come with me and one day, I will join them in somebody else’s walk; I am cool with that…

Mullaghmeen Woods

But enough with the creepy stuff… Here is the recipe:

You’ll need:

  • 6 super happy egg yolks
  • 180g of organic cane sugar ( pure from the pure house)
  • 125g of Organic Chestnut flour
  • 125g of Organic Almond flour
  • 220g of grated butter ( stick it in the freezer for 10 minutes)
  • 100g of toasted organic almonds
  • 100g of roasted Chestnuts
  • The zest of an orange
Life and death…

How To:

Before you start anything, make sure to gather your almonds…

Organic almonds…

You can chop them with a knife or just put them in the blender; they should come out like that picture below; put them in a dry pan for toasting. Like coffee, it is called “dry roast” and it will help developing the flavours…

Almonds, ready for dry roast…

I am lucky enough to have sweet chestnuts from my friend Roberto in Piedmont; he manages an organic farm called “Prunotto”, a great place! We don’t have sweet chestnuts in Ireland you see, only Horse Chestnuts which are inedible…

Roasted chestnuts…

I chopped the chestnuts and put them in the pan with a bit of orange zest for a bit of drama…

Chestnut and roasted almonds

Mix the egg yolks with the sugar and add the rest of the ingredients…

The tale of the two flours…

So basically, mix everything together… Knead the dough well, and place in a buttered and floured dish…

Triskell… The wheel spins…

Egg wash the cake, hope for the best… Bake at 150 c for one hour…

Baked… Happy days…

And so was my day…

Le gateau…
Chestnut and almond cake

Keep Well and eat Happy

Slán Tamall


19 thoughts on “Samhain Chestnut and Almond Cake

  1. I love reading”Les legendes de la Mort”, it’s one of the books I brought to Ireland when I moved over… Irish and Breton people have a similar relationship with death I think… And as for your cake, well, as usual I feel hungry anytime I read one of your recipes!!! Looks yummy 🙂

  2. Many thanks Franck, recipe looks delicious!

    I am an Irish citizen trying to become Breton! Near Guerlesquin, and looking for the celtic samhain vestiges in local folklore. Halloween has been imported in its Americanised format (too much plastic!) but there must be some Breton equivalents of Irish Samhain?



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