I particularly love this recipe for chestnut flour sugared doughnuts (ciambelle) from Canistro Superiore as when I asked whose recipe it was they declared it belonged to the village. Every house uses the same recipe that’s been handed down over the generations, so it’s truly a recipe for autumn and All Souls Day when Italians spend much time and effort in recognising their ancestors. My question must have seemed hilarious to them, their answer is a world away from today’s super competitive food ownership industry and celebrity chefs.
These are a world away from those trampoline-like commercial doughnuts that have lots of spring and plenty of cloying vanilla scent. The chestnut flour adds a sweet nutty edge and a little bit more texture, the potatoes provide some welcome Vitamin C. I have an urge to try them with a quince glaze.
The small community benefits from the Liri River and gurgling pure waters from the Sponga that feed the soul of this small town that is divided into two parts, high and low. These pristine waters are the source of Acqua Santa Croce mineral water and and famed for for their abundance of trout.
Elevated at just over 500 meters above sea level and cocooned by ancient forests, you can indulge in local rustic dishes from the bountiful forest ingredients including white and black truffles, its local ham is worth tasting!
Canistro’s claim to fame is their local Roscetta chestnuts. They are legendary for their unique flavour and central to their chestnut flour doughnuts! The best part? Canistro is just a short 1.5-hour drive from both Rome and Pescara, making it an easily accessible haven in the breathtaking Roveto Valley.
With roots dating back to pre-Roman times, the village’s name comes from the art of weaving baskets that flourished here. Today to counter the ever-present threat of depopulation the local comune is offering the €1 house scheme!
When to visit – particularly good for the Sapori d’Autunno – Taste of Autumn Festival in October
Chestnut Flour Doughnuts
- 460 g 00 Flour (see notes)
- 240 g Chestnut Flour
- 500 g Potatoes
- 1 Sachet of Dry Yeast
- 1 Lemon - zest only finely grated
- Milk, just a little to dissolve the yeast in
- 1 Fresh Vanilla Bean or 1 Sachet of Vanilla Essence or a couple of tsp Vanilla Essence
- 4 Eggs
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- 1 Pinch Salt (large pinch)
- 1 litre Peanut Oil for Frying
- Boil the potatoes in their skins, peel them and mash finely or run through a potato mill.
- Warm a little milk and add your yeast to re-activate it and check it's alive.
- Make a well shape with the flour on the table and add the potatoes. It is important to say you may need a little more of this flour ratio 2/3 00 flour 1/3 flour chestnut flour simply because some potatoes hold more moisture than others, the size of your eggs and of course the flour itself!
- Add yeast, eggs, sugar, oil and lemon zest and mix well, your result should be a dough that is smooth and not sticky, add extra flour if necessary!
- Knead for 5 minutes. The ladies traditionally make the dough in the morning and fry the doughnuts at sunset, if choosing this way pop your dough in the fridge to prove. If you are in a rush cover and leave outside the fridge for an hour.
- Take a piece of dough and roll it into a snake as Antonia does in the photo above, twist round and join each end, in a rush use a doughnut cutter or 2 differing pastry cutters, or a glass and bottle top if you haven't got a doughnut cutter. Running short of time just fry those small snake shapes you have rolled.
- Deep fry until golden on both sides. They cook quickly and will rise to the surface as they are almost ready so keep checking them.
- Drain on kitchen paper and roll in sugar, best served warm!