GF Ratio Rally – Chocolate Chestnut Quickbread

by Jenn on April 6, 2011

in Breakfast,Desserts,GF Ratio Rally,GF Substitutions,Gluten Free

Chocolate Chestnut Cake

While this chocolate chestnut dessert (breakfast?) may technically be a quick bread, I think it’s more fitting to call it a cake. These slices of chestnut flour & cocoa baked beauties, which happen to be dappled with chocolate chips and cognac soaked chestnuts throughout, follow the typical ratio of a quick bread and have the texture and moisture of one.  However, all they need is a little frosting (or a little spread of crème de marrons) and I’d feel perfectly comfortable presenting this to someone on their birthday.  But it is indeed a quick bread!

Quick breads were the theme of this month’s Gluten Free Ratio Rally, hosted by the lovely Silvana Nardone.  It’s been an exciting month with lots of new participants and great discussions about which ratios worked and didn’t, and how various ingredients affected the needed ratios to create a successful quick bread.  This also marked the first baking challenge of the ratio rally – I felt this was a perfect baked good to start with – in general I feel that quick breads tend to be less fussy than other baked goods, and of course the possibilities for flavor combinations are endless.

One aspect I love about baking gluten free is that there are so many flour substitutes – and thus flavors – to choose from. Most conventional gluten-filled recipes (especially for quick breads) only use one kind of flour – the glutenicious all purpose flour from wheat.  But once that is totally out of the equation, you can incorporate flavors to your baked goods just by the choice of flour you use – suddenly you can choose from hazelnuts, almonds, coconut, quinoa, buckwheat, gosh the list of choices goes on and on and on.  It may seem daunting at first but trust me, it’s a very good thing! All those choices at your disposal mean that you have options, and that it is now possible to incorporate flavors into the very core of the batter.  The gluten free baker can create whatever flavor complexity and depth they choose before even adding any “extras” into the quick bread.

You see, gluten free means choices.  Freedom to define exactly the flavors you want.  Baking gluten free really can be liberating.


I chose chocolate and chestnut for my flavors.  March was rather chilly, and the local stands in town have still been selling freshly roasted marrons to snack on with cold fingers that become just a little bit browned from peeling open the charred nuts.  It’s a perfect windy brisk afternoon treat.

I’ve really come to love the abundance of chestnuts in the Autumn and Winter months, so much so that now I associate cold weather with a craving for them.  While I had a fantastic lunch last weekend sitting atop a mountain in full sunshine, even at 6º C staring out at the vast Alps I was thinking to myself , “Hmm, fresh roasted chestnuts would just make this whole experience perfect.”  Ha I’m not complaining, the view more than made up for it!

I ate lunch staring out at this yesterday.

I found farine de châtaigne (chestnut flour) at one of my favorite shops and went and splurged on a jar of chestnuts soaked in cognac.  I’ve used chestnut flour back when we lived in the U.S., and really liked working with it – a medium weight flour, not too hygroscopic, a light flavor, not grainy at all – I think I’d put it between buckwheat and sorghum as far as texture.  I added some cocoa powder to give the quick bread a bit of color, and of course I had to toss a few of those cognac chestnuts and the last of my precious semisweet chocolate chips from the U.S. into the batter as well.

For a sweetener I wanted to try something different, and used honey instead of sugar.  I counted it as a liquid in my ratio, and noticed some really interesting things with the flavor – when I first took the quick bread out of the oven, I snuck a small taste (don’t you always do that too? please tell me I’m not the only one) and all I could taste was the honey. “Oh no,” I thought to myself, “it’s overpowering all of the chocolate and chestnut!”  But after it cooled for a few hours, the honey flavor really mellowed out into something that I felt blended rather nicely – I’m really new to using honey in baked goods, but wanted to try it.  I think maple syrup would’ve worked well here too.

Our reference ratio from Ruhlman was 2 : 2 : 1 : 1  flour : liquid : eggs : fat.  With the particular combination I used I found this to be darn near my best result.  Mine was only slightly different, 2 : 2.125 : 1 : 1.  Some people found that 2/2/1/1 resulted in too liquidy of a batter when using gluten free flours – but as the lovely Erin of the Sensitive Epicure pointed out to me, my addition of the cocoa powder really helped to absorb a good amount of liquids which is likely why my batter could hold so much liquid within it.  I know 30g doesn’t sound like much, but cocoa powder is fine stuff – it’s a lot more volume than you would think!

Overall I had a lot of fun with this challenge – We had some very tasty breakfasts/deserts from this quick bread, and I learned a lot about how different flours affect moisture content.  I’m so excited to see everyone’s wonderful recipes and results! If you would like to take a look at what everyone else has been up to, be sure to check out our host Silvana’s Kitchen for links to all of the participants and their quick breads.

And be sure to join up next month, Lauren of Celiac Teen will be hosting!

Chocolate Chestnut Cake


Chocolate Chestnut Quick bread

Prep Time: 10 minutes to assemble ingredients, melt butter and beat eggs
Total Time: 1 hour


  • 80g chestnut flour
  • 60g tapioca starch
  • 30g hazelnut meal
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. guar gum*
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 2 eggs, room temperature and beaten
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 75g honey
  • 150g milk, room temperature
  • handful chocolate chips
  • handful cognac-soaked chestnuts

*I actually don’t think this was necessary, in fact next time I will leave it out altogether.

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients.
2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and butter. Then whisk in the honey.
3. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and then stir in the milk, then the chocolate chips and then the chestnuts.
4. Pour into a greased pan (I used my 8″ round spring form pan because that’s the only pan I’ve got, but I’m sure a standard loaf pan would work fine) and bake for 40 minutes or until passes the clean knife test.
5. Let cool and then slice. I found the honey flavor was rather strong when it was fresh out of the oven, but after cooling and then chilling overnight it had really mellowed well into the quick bread.


And the links to everyone’s lovely quickbreads and muffins – so much deliciousness, I can’t get over it!!

~Mrs. R of honey from flinty rocks made Lemon Lavender Muffins with Lavender Sugar
Alisha of gfmostlyvegetarian made Sweet Potato Breakfast Loaf
Amanda of Gluten Free Maui made Classic Banana, Oat, Pecan Bread
Amie of  The Healthy Apple made Gluten-Free Agave Apricot Quick Bread
Britt of GF In The City made Date & Walnut Bread
Brooke of Bell Wookie made Double Chocolate Cherry Muffin
Caleigh of Gluten Free[k] made Cardamom Banana Bread
Caroline of The G Spot Revolution made Orange Spice Bread with a Vanilla Glaze
Claire of Gluten Freedom made Piña Colada Muffins with Coconut-Rum Glaze and Toasted Coconut
Danna of Sweet Dees Gluten Free made Blood Orange Cardamom Muffins
Erin of Mysteries Internal made Strawberry Yogurt Muffins
Erin of The Sensitive Epicure made Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins with Streusel
Flo of Makanaibio made 2 Recettes de Muffins ou de Gateau Rapides
Gretchen of kumquat made Gingerbread Fig Loaf
Irvin of Eat The Love made Gluten Free Glazed Meyer Lemon Muffins filled with Slow Roasted Balsamic Red Wine Strawberry Jam
Jenn of Jenn Cuisine made Chestnut and Chocolate Quickbread
Karen of Cooking Gluten Free made Muffins
Kate of Kate Alice Cookbook made Raspberry Banana Crumble-Top Muffins
Kate of Gluten Free Gobsmacked made Mocha + Chocolate Chip Muffins/Quickbread
Lauren of Celiac Teen made Cocoa Quickbread
Lisa of Gluten Free Canteen made Almond Cherry Berry Banana Muffins, Gluten Free
Lisa of With Style and Grace made Rosemary Lemon Quick Bread
Marla of Family Fresh Cooking made Strawberry Snack Cakes
Mary Frances of Gluten Free Cooking School made Cranberry Orange Bread with Cream Cheese Icing
Meaghan of The Wicked Good Vegan made Vegan Gluten-Free Apricot-Orange Bread
Melanie of Mindful Food made Almond Joy Muffins
Nannette of Nannette Raw made Chai Muffins
Robyn of Chocswirl made Brown Butter Apple Spice Muffins with Pecan Nut Streusel
Shauna of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef made Lemon Poppyseed Bread with Ginger Glaze
Silvana of Silvana’s Kitchen made Chocolate-Coated Marshmallow-Topped Vanilla Cupcakes
Tara of A Baking Life made Caramelized Banana Bread with Pecan Streusel
Wendy of La Phemme Phoodie made Cheesy Apple Butter Bread with Garlic Powder
Winnie of Healthy Green Kitchen made Brown Butter Banana Bread