Torta della Nonna Recipe: A Simple Italian Grandmother’s Cake Recipe by Ann Marie Patitucci
Torta della Nonna is an Italian dessert which literally translates to “grandmother’s cake.” Can you just picture an adorable Nonna happily baking this special dessert in her Tuscan kitchen for all her grandchildren?
This simple, rustic torta della nonna recipe is baked and enjoyed throughout Italy. It’s clear to me why this torta is so popular – it has an light and lemony shortbread pastry and a luscious Italian pastry cream. You will need a 9-inch tart pan with a removeable bottom for this recipe. Why not surprise your family with one?
Prep Time: 30 minutes plus 1 hour to chill
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- 3/4 cups superfine sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt (leave it out if you happen to use salted butter)
- 5 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/8 - 1/4 cup pine nuts
- powdered sugar, for dusting
Here’s how to make it:
- Soak pine nuts in a small bowl of water.
- To make the filling, heat the milk and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan until it just comes to a boil. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In a medium bowl, use a wire whisk to beat the egg yolks and sugar until light and creamy. Stir in flour. Using a whisk, gradually add in the warm milk. Whisk well so that no lumps form.
- Strain the milk mixture back into the saucepan. Return to the heat and stir, using a whisk, until it thickens. Boil for about a minute to cook the flour. Remove from the heat and pour into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Press the plastic onto the surface of the filling to prevent a “skin” forming. Set aside to cool completely.
- To make the pastry, in a food processor, place the flour, lemon zest, baking powder, salt and butter. Pulse until you reach a breadcrumb-like consistency. Add the sugar and egg yolks. Process until the mixture just starts to come together on the sides of the bowl. Remove and wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour.
- Divide the dough in two pieces, with one slightly larger than the other. Take the larger piece, press it down to flatten and form a rough circle. Dust the pastry lightly with flour. Roll out the larger piece between two pieces of nonstick baking paper until large enough to fit a 9-inch tart pan with a removeable bottom. If the pastry sticks, dust lightly with a little more flour.
- Roll the pastry gently around the rolling pin. Lift and unroll pastry into a greased 9-inch tart pan. Pull it up around the sides and allow it to fall into the corners. Patch any rips with excess pastry. Trim the edges.
- Spoon the cool pastry cream into the base. Spread and level out the filling. Roll out the second piece of pastry the same way and fit it over the pastry cream, pressing the edges to seal. Then trim off excess. Brush the top with water.
- Drain the pine nuts and sprinkle over the torta.
- Bake in preheated 350-degree F oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool. Carefully remove torta from the pan and place on a serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve either chilled or at room temperature. Store it in the fridge for four to five days, covered.
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