Have you ever heard about Sapa Chestnut Cake? Originating from Sapa, a small town located in northern Vietnam, Sapa Chestnut Cake is one of its specialties which uses a native ingredient here: Chestnut. This cake contributes to my collection of chestnut recipes, together with Korean Chestnut Cookies and Japanese Chestnut Rice.

Sapa Chestnut Cake
Sapa Chestnut Cake with Chestnut Paste Filling

Nestled in the Hoang Lien Son Mountain range, the picturesque Sapa town is known for its stunning landscapes, lush, terraced rice fields, and vibrant ethnic minority cultures. It is one of the most popular travel destinations in Vietnam. When I was a college student in 2012, I visited Sapa and fell in love with the food here, from sticky rice in bamboo (cơm lam), smoked buffalo meat (trâu gác bếp), roasted chestnuts, and Sapa Chestnut Cake. The puff pastry wraps around a natural sweet and nutty chestnut paste filling, satisfying you with every bite. So, after more than 10 years, I tried making it again and luckily, I was able to recreate that special taste in my kitchen. Let’s make it!

What is Sapa Chestnut Cake Made From?

Let’s first dive into the ingredients that make up the cake. The wrapper is made of puff pastry, which includes all-purpose flour, butter, eggs, and either coconut or another type of vegetable oil. The filling is made from Chestnuts. Sapa is one of the few regions in the North of Vietnam where the chestnut tree is native. This is because Sapa is 1,500 meters above sea level, providing a cool climate year-round where chestnut trees can grow naturally. To make Chestnut Paste Filling, you will need chestnut, honey, oil, and milk.

Basic ingredients, aren’t they? Below is the exact amount of ingredients for 8 cakes:

Oil Dough:

  • 150g all-purpose flour
  • 60g coconut oil
  • 40g butter

Water Dough:

  • 260g all-purpose flour
  • 100g butter
  • 50g sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs

Chestnut Paste:

  • 300g chestnut powder (from around 500g (17.6 oz) unpeeled ones)
  • 70g (3 1/3 tbsp) honey
  • 20g (1 1/2 tbsp) oil
  • 90ml (6 tbsp) milk

Instructions:

Preparing the Oil Dough:

In a mixing bowl, combine 75g of all-purpose flour, 30g of coconut oil, and 20g of butter. Mix the ingredients until they come together to form a dough.

Shape the oil dough into a square or rectangle, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes to firm up. You must do this step, as otherwise, it will be very difficult to fold the water dough and create puff pastry.

oil-dough-sapa-chestnut-cake

Preparing the Water Dough:

In a separate mixing bowl, combine 130g of all-purpose flour, 50g of butter, 25g of sugar, 0.5g of salt, and 25g of egg. Mix the ingredients until they form a crumbly mixture.

Gradually add 30g of cold water to the mixture, a little at a time, and continue mixing until a smooth and slightly sticky dough forms. You may not need to use all of the cold water, so add it gradually to prevent adding excessive liquid.

Water dough sapa chestnut cake

Making Chestnut Paste Filling:

To make the Chestnut Paste Filling, mix 300g of chestnut powder, 70g of honey, 20g of oil, and 90ml of milk together in a pan. Stir the mixture over low heat until it forms a unique paste.

Making Chestnut Paste

Then, divide it into 8 portions and roll them into balls.

Chestnut paste filling

Beside using Chestnut Powder, you can also make the paste from whole peeled chestnuts, milk, and sugar. Please refer to the post “Chestnut Paste Recipes” to check another recipe for Chestnut Paste and choose the one that is most convenient for you.

Lamination Process:

In this process, you’ll combine the oil dough and the water dough to create puff pastry.

Rolling Out the Water Dough: Start by rolling out the water dough into two large, thin rectangles, each the same size as the flattened oil dough, on a lightly floured surface.

Encasing the Oil Dough: Place the oil dough between the two flattened water dough rectangles.

First Fold (Letter Fold): Roll out this combined dough into a long, narrow rectangle. Perform a letter fold by folding the bottom third of the dough up towards the center, then fold the top third down over it, like folding a letter. This creates three layers of dough. Cover and let the dough rest in the fridge for 10 minutes.

puff pastry

Second Fold (Book Fold): Roll out the dough similarly to the previous step (along the long edge). Fold the shorter side of the rectangular dough toward its center, ensuring that the edges align perfectly. Gently press down to secure the dough in place. Next, repeat this folding process with the opposite side, leaving a small gap in the middle. Now, fold the entire sheet of dough in half along the central gap.

Third Fold (Book Fold): Repeat the process of the second fold.

Chilling the Dough and dividing into portions: After the third fold, roll the dough out thinly and then roll it up like a log. Cover the dough and let it chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Cut the dough into small and equal portions. Then, roll the dough thinly to create the puff pastry wrapper.

puff pastry chestnut cake
Final portions of puff-pastry.

Wrapping the Chestnut Paste Filling

Forming Sapa Chestnut Cake: Put a Chestnut Paste Filling Ball in the center of a wrapper. Place the prepared filling in the center and wrap it up. Place the cake on a baking tray with the smooth surface up. Repeat until you have used all the dough and filling.

Sapa Chestnut Cake

Baking Sapa Chestnut Cake:

The method I use to bake Chestnut Cake is similar to Mooncakes but takes less time, with only 2 baking rounds:

First baking: Bake for 10 minutes. While the first round is baking, prepare the egg wash by mixing 1 egg yolk with a teaspoon of water.

Second baking: After the first 10 minutes, remove the cakes from the oven and brush on a thin layer of egg wash. It’s optional to sprinkle a pinch of black sesame on top of the cakes. Then, spray the cake with water and return it to the oven for a second round at 200°C (400°F) for 15 minutes. Pay attention and turn off the oven when the cake reaches the desired golden-brown color.

Baking Sapa Chestnut Cake

Alternatively, you can bake it in just one time, which will be more similar to the original Sapa Chestnut Cake. Prepare the egg wash, brush a thin layer onto the cakes and sprinkle black sesame seeds on while them waiting for the oven to heat up to 200°C (400°F). Spay water on them and bake continuously for 20 minutes or until they achieve an even golden-brown look.

That’s it. You’ll get these beautiful chestnut cakes. Serve them hot, at room temperature, or cool – they’re all delicious. Also, prepare a hot cup of herbal tea; it’s the perfect complement in cold weather!

Sapa Chestnut Cake

Storing Sapa Chestnut Cake

Sapa Chestnut Cakes can last up to 2 days at room temperature, so you can simply leave them outside the fridge and enjoy them whenever you want.

To preserve them longer, keep them in the fridge. Since they are quite dry, you can enjoy them for up to four days. However, don’t freeze them; freezing will affect the puff-pastry wrappers will be affected and noticeably change their texture.

Sapa Chestnut Cake

Sapa Chestnut Cake

Yield: 8 cakes
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Originating from Sapa, a small town located in northern Vietnam, Sapa Chestnut Cake is one of its specialties, which is made from chestnut.

Ingredients

Oil Dough:

Water Dough:

  • 260g all-purpose flour
  • 100g butter
  • 50g sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs

Chestnut Paste:

  • 300g chestnut powder (~500g (17.6 oz) unpeeled chestnuts)
  • 70g (3 1/3 tbsp) honey
  • 20g (1 1/2 tbsp) oil
  • 90ml (6 tbsp) milk

Instructions

Preparing the Oil Dough:

  • In a mixing bowl, combine 75g of all-purpose flour, 30g of coconut oil, and 20g of butter. Mix the ingredients until they come together to form a dough.
  • Shape the oil dough into a square or rectangle, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes to firm up. You must do this step, or else it’s very difficult folding with water dough in order to make puff pastry.oil-dough-sapa-chestnut-cake

Preparing the Water Dough:

  • In a separate mixing bowl, combine 130g of all-purpose flour, 50g of butter, 25g of sugar, 0.5g of salt, and 25g of egg. Mix the ingredients until they form a crumbly mixture.
  • Gradually add 30g of cold water to the mixture, a little at a time, and continue mixing until a smooth and slightly sticky dough forms. You may not need to use all the cold water, so add it gradually.Water dough sapa chestnut cake

Making Chestnut Paste Filling:

  • To make Chestnut Paste Filling, mix 300g chestnut powder, 70g honey, 20g oil and 90ml milk together on a pan.Making Chestnut Paste
  • Stir the mixture on low heat until it forms a unique paste. Chestnut paste
  • Then, divide it into 8 portions and roll into balls.Chestnut paste filling

Beside using Chestnut Powder, you can make the paste from whole peeled chestnut, milk and sugar. Please refer to the post “Chestnut Paste Recipes” to check another recipe for Chestnut Paste and opt for the one with the most convenience for you.

Lamination Process:

  • Rolling Out the Water Dough: Begin by rolling out the water dough into two large, thin rectangles, each the same size as the flattened oil dough, on a lightly floured surface.Sapa Chestnut Cake Rolling Water dough
  • Encasing the Oil Dough: Place the oil dough between the two flattened water dough rectangles.Place Oil dough on water dough
  • First Fold (Letter Fold): Roll out this combined dough into a long, narrow rectangle. Perform a letter fold by folding the bottom third of the dough up towards the center, then fold the top third down over it, like folding a letter. This creates three layers of dough. Cover and let the dough rest for 10 minutes in the fridge.puff pastry
  • Second Fold (Book Fold): Roll out the dough similarly to the previous step (along the long edge). Fold the shorter side of the rectangular dough towards its center, ensuring that the edges align perfectly. Gently press down to secure the dough in place. Next, repeat this folding process with the opposite side, leaving a small gap in the middle. Now, fold the entire sheet of dough in half along the central gap.First fold Sapa Chestnut CakeSapa chestnut cake
  • Third Fold (Book Fold): Repeat the process of the second fold.
  • Chilling the Dough: After third fold, roll the dough out thinly and then roll it up like a log. Cover the dough and let it chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Sapa Chestnut CakeSapa Chestnut Cake
  • Cutting into portions: Cut the dough into small and equal portions. Then, roll the dough thinly to make the wrapper from puff pastry.puff pastry chestnut cakeSapa Chestnut Cake dough

Wrapping the Chestnut Paste Filling

  • Forming Sapa Chestnut cake: Place a Chestnut Paste Filling Ball in the center of a wrapper. Place the prepared filling in the center and wrap it up. Lay the cake on baking tray with the smooth surface up.Sapa Chestnut Cake
  • Repeat until you finish all the dough and filling.Sapa chestnut cake unbaked

Baking Sapa Chestnut Cake:

  • First baking: Bake for 10 minutes. While the first round is baking, prepare the egg wash by mixing 1 egg yolk with a teaspoon of water.Before baking
  • Second baking: After the first 10 minutes, take the cakes out of the oven and brush a thin layer of egg wash. It’s optional to sprinkle a pinch of black sesame on top of the cakes. Then, spray the cake with water and put it in the oven a second time at 200°C (400°F) for 15 minutes. Pay attention and turn off when the cake reaches the desired golden-brown color.Baking Sapa Chestnut Cake
  • Otherwise, you can bake it in just one time. Prepare the egg wash, brush one thin layer on the cakes and spinkle black sesame on while waiting for the oven to heat up to 200°C (400°F). Spay water on them and bake continuously in 20 minutes or until they achieve an even golden-brown look.Sapa Chestnut Cake

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 cake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 536

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Other Chestnut Recipes

Beside Sapa Chestnut Cake, you can also try:

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