Torta della nonna is one of our favourite Italian desserts, consisting of layers of crisp pastry enclosing a velvety, lemon-infused custard. Its beauty is in its simplicity and this traditional dessert is a favourite of our chef Martina’s. Finished with toasted pine nuts and a gentle dusting of icing sugar this is sure to be a crowd-pleaser at any dinner party, so why not try our simple recipe today.
Make Martina’s Traditional Torta della Nonna
Prep Time: 2 hours
Calories per serving: 541kcal
For the Pastry:
- 300g ‘00’ flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- 130g golden caster sugar
- 150g butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk, gently whisked
- 1 lemon, zested
For the Custard:
- 5 golden egg yolks
- 100g caster sugar
- 30g ‘00’ flour
- 600ml of whole milk
- 1 lemon, peel the zest into strips
- The seeds of ½ vanilla pod
- 60g pine nuts
- Dusting of icing sugar
- First you’ll need to make your pastry. Mix together your flour, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl. Begin to rub in the cubes of butter, using the tips of your fingers, to create a grainy, crumbly mixture.
- Pour in the egg and the whisked egg yolk along with the grated lemon zest. Stir until the mixture thickens and form the dough into a smooth ball. Wrap your dough in a tea towel or some cling film and allow it to chill in the fridge for about an hour.
- Whilst your dough rests you can make the custard. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with half of the sugar until the sugar dissolves. Slowly add the flour, a little at a time, and keep beating until fully mixed. Pour in 60ml (about 4tbsp) of the milk, and mix it all together.
- Pour the remaining milk into a saucepan with the rest of the sugar, the strips of lemon zest and the vanilla seeds. Warm the contents over a low heat and bring to a very gentle simmer. Take the pan off the hob, remove the lemon zest and pour the hot milk into your bowl containing the egg yolk mix, whisk continuously until the custard is smooth.
- Transfer your custard back to the saucepan and place over a low heat. Cook until the mixture becomes dense and glossy, stirring often to prevent burning. Avoid boiling the custard. Once thickened, remove the custard from the hob and transfer to a clean bowl, covering the top with cling film. Place the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice, to cool the custard, and set it to one side for now.
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Grease a 10” round baking tin with a little excess butter.
- Get your pastry out of the fridge and cut it into 2 pieces (one piece should be ⅔ of the dough, the other ⅓ of the total mixture). Roll the larger piece into a rough circle, about 2mm thick, that will cover the base and the sides of your tin. Transfer the dough to the tin, pressing it with your fingertips to stick it to the surface of the tin. Trim the edges to remove any excess dough. Make small holes in the pastry lining using a fork.
- Pour the cooled custard into your pastry case and smooth over the top.
- Roll the second piece of pastry into a circle that will cover the top of the tart entirely, this should be thinner than the base. Trim the excess dough from the sides and then pinch the top and bottom edges together to seal your tart.
- Scatter your pine nuts on top of the tart and press them lightly to stick to your pastry top.
- Bake your tart for about 45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the pine nuts are beginning to brown.
- Allow the tart to cool and then dust the top with icing sugar and cut into slices to serve, buon appetito!
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