Chestnut crepes for breakfast

Although sleep is high on my list of priorities, I find it’s amazing what you can get done when you wake up before the sun does and everyone else (demanding toddler included) is still fast asleep. So I was secretly thrilled when the warm and talented (and one of my most admired photographers) Luisa Brimble suggested that we meet for a breakfast shoot and chat at sunrise the day before I flew out of Sydney to move back to Italy.

Tuscan chestnut crepes (necci)

When Luisa has an idea, it’s probably a good idea to follow her lead. I’ll take you somewhere special, she said. A sunrise beach setting? Yes please! But I was left with the brief to think up something we could prepare or assemble right then and there. Luisa had a camping stove and was armed with a beautiful bounty of autumn produce from her local markets, and I had some chestnut flour that I had brought from my last trip in Tuscany, and so it was that I ended up making chestnut crepes on Sydney’s Coogee beach at sunrise, armed only with a bread knife as I had forgotten a spatula.

They’re not the easiest thing to flip. The crepes, a typical Tuscan specialty made only of ground, dried chestnuts, water and a bit of olive oil, contain no gluten or eggs and so essentially not much that holds them together. In fact, traditionally, they’re cooked on specially-made testi, two completely flat, round cast iron pans with long handles that clamp the crepe from top and bottom. You flip the testi, which always support the crepe, rather than flipping the crepe.

But if I can do this on a camp stove on a windy morning at the beach with a bread knife, it means you can make these easily at home with a spatula!

crostoni with fresh figs and fig honey

They’re normally filled with fresh ricotta (sheep’s milk preferably, which is easy to get in Tuscany), then rolled up and eaten as is, as a snack. But they’re also nice with a drizzle of honey. And, although, not traditional, they’re wonderful with this fig ‘honey’ — not a honey as such, but a syrup made from boiling down dried or fresh figs until it is the consistency and deep amber colour of chestnut honey. Use it in place of honey, or have it with cheese. I also drizzled it on some crostini with ricotta and fresh figs.

Check out Luisa’s beautiful images from the day here.

necci - Tuscan chestnut crepes

 Tuscan Chestnut Crepes (Necci) with Fig Honey

You can also eat these crepes without the ricotta, for a dairy-free or entirely vegan dish. Or, if you prefer savoury, these crepes also eaten with prosciutto, the natural sweetness of the chestnuts creating a nice balance with the salty prosciutto.

  • 250 grams chestnut flour
  • 250 ml (1 cup) water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • fresh ricotta (use good, firm, fresh ricotta from a deli rather than something you buy in a tub from the supermarket)
  • fig honey for drizzling (recipe here) or regular honey

See the full recipe for the Chestnut Crepes here.


  1. These chestnut crepes look absolutely delicious. I love the idea of the figs and the fig “honey” that you add to it. I have never seen chestnut flour but that is something I will definitely look for. Thanks for sharing this and I can’t wait to try it.

    • Emiko says:

      It can be hard to find outside of Italy and you want to make sure you have a new packet (not one that has been sitting around for a while), so your best bet might be to order it online, I’ve even seen it on amazon!

  2. Sophie says:

    Impressive manoeuvring for the beach! They look great!

  3. Kirsteen says:

    What a magical way to start your last day in Australia! Luisa’s photographs of the breakfast are stunning. You’ve now got me craving necci (although I’ll do it the lazy way and pop over to Santo Spirito!) and the fig honey sounds amaaazing!

  4. wendy mcmurdo says:

    Emiko I love these chestnut flour pancakes ..I must try them. I am also intrigued by the use of chestnut flour as my Croatian elderly neighbor told me she consumes chestnut flour as a tonic for her liver? So perhaps chestnut pancakes are more than delicious but also healing foods? I love your writing.
    wendy from canberra

    • wendy mcmurdo says:

      Emiko after writing to you I started reading online & I think the healing flour not regular chestnut flour but is water chestnut from Indian grocery stored & is not a chestnut at all but resembles a chestnut it is supposed to be very healing and you can make flatbreads out if it. hmm I might try both your delicious chestnut pancake as a sweet treat and the water chestnut flat bread with lentils for healing x

  5. I am obsessed with anything chestnut and this recipe looks absolutely awesome, I love necci and everything about this needs to be tried, thought I hope mine will stay together! Chestnut flour is a little pricey but I think I need to find a local source here in Florence, let me know if you have any suggestions! Wonderful post as usual Emiko!

    • Emiko says:

      I’ve discovered that it’s hard to find good chestnut flour out of season (even packaged!). In season, most supermarkets have a decent local selection and I think one of the good reasons you need to get it during autumn/winter is that older chestnut flour doesn’t taste as great. There’s an amazing place in the Mugello where you can buy it direct from the mill that grinds it – heaven! But otherwise I usually get mine from the regular supermarkets around Florence.

  6. Sudha says:

    You can find waterchestnut flour in Indian stores all over the world. It’s called “Singhade ka atta’.

    • Emiko Davies says:

      Thanks for sharing this information. Unfortunately water chestnut flour is quite a different product to chestnut flour! I wouldn’t recommend substituting it for chestnut flour in this recipe.

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