A Stir The Pots Post


by | Sep 25, 2010 | Baking, Bread

Chestnuts were once known as poor people's food, but to me they sing autumn, roasted or in desserts they are just lovely. Chestnuts are grown and popular in the Ardeche region of France, where they use it in breads. Chestnuts are not a commonly used flour, due to it's lack of gluten properties. Recently I was lucky enough to get my hands on some  farina di castagne over at my buddy Frank's at Sorriso's meat market in Astoria. this weekend while baking and sampling some breads with a friend,I changed gears on a formula for a cheese bread I had in mind, and decided  to use chestnut flour instead. E perché no?(and why not?)



I aimed my range of chestnut to wheat at about 20% with a bit of spelt and honey for a background flavor. What came out was a slightly lean dough, but quite a pusher when it came to rising. I suppose I could add in some lipids next time, maybe some chestnuts and herbs, but this one was frugal, almost like the fruit itself. A poor man's bread maybe? It's definitely a nice bread to go with some bold cheeses, or killer honey! Ne vous croyez pas? (Don't you think so?)


Picture: Zen chef


Pain au farine du châtaigne



I didn't have enough stiff levain which I keep at 50 % hydration, so I topped off with liquid levain (100%) and held back a bit of water in the final dough to guage the dough.

You could use a stiff or liquid levain, you do the math!

Final dough

60g chestnut

90g spelt

150 wheat (A.P.)

 160g Water

280g levain

5g of honey,(I had some honey from Ecuador, made by killer bee's!)

6g    Salt

(Possible add in's , walnuts, raisins, chestnuts, rosemary….and on and on!) Great with butter and honey or a tranche of foie gras, salami….dream on!


Picture by Zen chef




  1. MC


  2. Mike Avery

    OK, wheat flour as contrasted to spelt and chestnut. But what sort of wheat? Whole wheat? High gluten flour? Bread flour? All purpose flour? Did I space out and miss that detail?

  3. Mike Avery

    OK, next time I’ll save up all my questions for one post. Looking at the numbers, you have about 135 grams of total liquid and about 369 grams of flours. That’s assuming 100% hydration levain, with your 50% levain, it’s more like 112 grams of liquid and 393 grams of flour. (Following Craig Ponsford’s suggestion, I include fats, eggs, honey and other such as part of the overall liquids for the purpose of calculating hydration).
    So, that means, depending on which numbers you like, the dough had a hydration level somewhere between 36.5 and 28.4%. And, yeah, that includes the flour and water in the levain.
    Dang, that seems like an awfully DRY dough, and I like dry doughs far too much. Bagels and many pizza doughs are around 51 – 55%,
    Am I mis-reading something? Are you sure you didn’t drop a decimal point or add more liquid or something?

  4. Mike Avery

    They look absolutely lovely, which is why asked all those questions….. hope I wasn’t too much of a pain.

  5. Jeremy

    Hi Mike,
    Just checking my spotty notes, seems I had actually 280 levain, with a 100grams of solid and topped off with 180grams of liquid levain (100%)….All Purpose flour. It’s a relatively dry dough, not sure because of the spelt or chestnut, but if your feeling a bit wary, drop a bit more water in…I definitely will try to work on this formula and make some add in changes, maybe some butter, eggs, brioche enriched chestnut?

  6. Jeremy

    Mike, wow, I must of been drifting off totally, water was actually 160g…Good thing your keeping an eye on me!

  7. Mike Avery

    Thanks! That makes a lot more sense, around 70% hydration with a 100% hydration starter, maybe 60 – 65% with a 50% hydration starter.
    Once I get my new starter up (I’m trying Gerard’s method as documented at Farine’s web page), I’ll try this. Amazon delivered my chestnut flour yesterday.

  8. Jeremy

    Hey Mike, sounds good,post your efforts!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Find More

Follow Us

Feel free to follow us on social media for the latest news and more inspiration.

Related Content