Torta della Nonna

Torta della Nonna | tortaoragione.it

Probably the interwebz didn’t need yet another Torta della Nonna recipe. But I love custard cream so much and this is one of my favorite cakes. I wanted to have it on my blog.
Besides I though having a Torta della Nonna recipe in English would have been a good idea.

First of all, what is it? Torta della Nonna means literally “Grandma’s Cake”. But its origins got lost a bit during the years.
It seems that the classic recipe as we know it was not invented by a grandma, but by chef Guido Samorini. He was also a restaurant owner from Florence, my home town.

Apparently he was challenged by his clients to come up with a new dessert. He combined a shortcrust base with custard cream and pine nuts. The cake turned out to be easy to make yet delicious.
These two factors probably contributed to the popularity of this cake in Italian restaurants during the 80’s and 90’s.

Desserts are most of the time a problem for restaurants due to the fact that chefs are not necessarily pastry chefs. Moreover, preparation of desserts are usually time consuming. Hence the need to opt for something easy that can be prepared beforehand. Another typical example of this kind of dessert is panna cotta.

In order to different from many traditional recipes out there I tried to give my Torta della Nonna a more modern look.

I am aware that my recipe will be buried in the umpteenth page on search engines. And that I cannot compete with those SEO monsters of the major Italian food blogs/hubs.
But who cares! I love this recipe. And if you got here somehow I hope you will give it a try.

Torta della Nonna

Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Servings: 6
Ingredients for a 19 cm (7.5 in) cake pan. I used a perforated silicone cake mold but a normal tart pan can be used.

Ingredients

For the shortcrust:

  • 200 g butter 7 oz
  • 135 g confectioner sugar 4.8 oz
  • 50 g eggs, approx 1 egg 1.8 oz
  • 15 g honey 0.5 oz
  • 335 g flour 11.8 oz
  • pinch of salt
  • grated lemon zest ½ lemon
  • tip of a tsp of powdered vanilla bourbon alternatively vanilla extract
  • 5 g instant yeast

For the custard cream:

  • 500 g milk 17.8 oz
  • 110 g sugar 3.9 oz
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 40 cornstarch 1.4 oz
  • grated lemon zest ½ lemon
  • tip of a tsp of powdered vanilla bourbon alternatively vanilla extract

To garnish:

  • 40 g pine nuts 1.4 oz
  • confectioner sugar
  • 1 egg for brushing

Instructions

For the shortcrust, using the stand mixer:

  • Put the cold butter, cubed, in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add the confectioner sugar and the grated lemon zest.
  • Beat just enough to combine the ingredients.
  • Add the egg, honey, salt and vanilla. Work briefly to incorporate.
  • Lastly add the flour and yeast sifted together.
  • When all ingredients are combined (do not overwork the dough) shape the dough into a flat disc. Wrap it with cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

For the custard cream:

  • Put the milk together with the lemon zest and vanilla in a pot on medium heat.
  • Combine the sugar with the cornstarch in a large bowl. Add the egg yolks and stir to combine.
  • When the milk reaches its boiling point pour half of it into the sugar/yolks mixture, passing it through a strainer. Quickly stir with a whisk to dissolve the solids.
  • Add the remaining milk, again through the strainer, and stir.
  • Put the mixture back in the pot and cook at medium heat while stirring constantly.
  • After a few minutes the cream will thicken. Remove from heat and transfer the cream in a cold bowl. Whisk vigorously for a few minutes to cool it down.
  • Cover with cling film touching the surface of the cream and transfer in the fridge.

Assembly:

  • NOTE: I used a perforated silicone cake mold together with a perforated silicone mat. But a normal 19 cm (7.5 in) tart pan can be used instead.
  • Preheat the oven at 170° C (338° F).
  • Briefly work the shortcrust dough to soften it. Roll out the dough on a slightly floured work surface.
  • Score the dough randomly with a fork.
  • If you use a pastry ring (for a more modern look):
  • Using the ring itself cut a disc of dough. Place the ring on a baking tray with the perforated baking mat or simply lined with parchment paper. Place the disc of dough inside the ring.
  • Roll out the remaining dough and cut two long strips to make the border.
  • Put the strips inside the ring, covering the whole circumference, pressing the bottom to make it stick to the base.
  • Cut the excess pastry from the top.
  • In case you use a normal tart pan:
  • Wrap the dough over the rolling pin and then place it over one side of the tart pan.
  • Gently unwrap the dough on the pan. Press down the dough to the shape of the pan.
  • Roll the rolling pin on the edges of the pan to remove the excess dough.

Finishing and Baking:

  • Pour the custard cream inside the tart and level with a spatula.
  • Roll out the leftover shortcrust dough to make the upper layer. The pastry should be rolled out thinner than the base.
  • Cut a disc of dough to cover the top of the tart and score it randomly with a fork. Wrap it on the rolling pin and place it on top of the ring/pan.
  • Press firmly on the edges to make dough stick to the base and cut the dough in excess.
  • Beat the egg and brush the top of the tart.
  • Sprinkle the top with pine nuts.
  • Bake at 170° C (338° F) for 40-45 minutes.
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