A Ricky Webster recipe.
Torta Della Nonna is a traditional Tuscan recipe that consists of a crisp buttery pastry filled with a creamy custard scented with vanilla and lemon. It is topped with pine nuts that toast up in the oven and provide another crunchy texture and buttery mouth feel. Torta Della Nonna translates to “Grandmother’s Cake” and with its comforting and familiar flavor, it’s easy to see why.
We are making an 8” “cake” in this recipe here, but it can easily make individual ones that fit right at home inside a pastry case.
- 225 grams all-purpose flour
- 115 grams unsalted butter, softened
- 140 grams granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 40 grams almond flour
- 1 large egg
- Combine the flour, butter, sugar, salt, and almond flour to a large bowl.
- Mix with hands, until it resembles wet sand.
- Add in the egg, and combine, until it comes together and forms a dough. I like to use my hands for this process.
- Press into a 1/2” round.
- Wrap in parchment and chill for 30 minutes.
- 500 grams whole milk
- 1 lemon, peeled and juiced
- ½ t kosher salt
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 3 large egg yolks
- 100 grams granulated sugar
- 25 grams all-purpose flour
- 20 grams cornstarch
- 40 grams of unsalted butter
- In a medium sized saucepan, heat the milk with vanilla, salt, and lemon peel, until scalded, or almost boiling.
- While the milk is heating, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, flour, and cornstarch, until smooth.
- Strain the milk mixture and gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture.
- Once combined, place back into the saucepan, over medium heat, whisking constantly.
- Add in the lemon juice and combine.
- When the custard is thickened and is bubbling, continue cooking for another 30 seconds, whisking vigorously to make sure the custard remains smooth.
- Strain into a medium sized bowl and lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of custard, to prevent it from forming a skin.
- Cool in fridge for at least an hour or up to 2 days before assembling the torta della nonna.
Assembling our Pastry
- Egg wash (made up of an egg beaten with water)
- Pine nuts or sliced almonds
- Powdered sugar
- Remove dough from fridge and roll out to 1/4” thick.
- Line and 8” greased ring mold, placed on a silicone mat lined sheet pan, with dough.
- Set aside remaining dough for the top crust.
- Chill lined ring mold for 30 minutes.
- Remove from fridge and add cooled custard to unbaked shell. The custard will not fill the shell completely, but that is okay, as it will soufflé a bit in the oven.
- Remove about 1/4 “of dough from top edge of ring by running a knife around the inside perimeter and removing strip of dough (adding it to dough reserve).
- Roll out reserved dough to 1/8” thick and lay directly on top of custard filled crust.
- Seal in edges by lightly pressing dough into each other.
- Cut away excess dough by running a paring knife flat across the top of the ring.
- Chill filled and sealed cake for another 30 minutes.
- While chilling, preheat the oven to 325.
- Remove cake from the fridge and brush the top, evenly with egg wash and sprinkle with nuts.
- Place in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and cool for 20 minutes, then remove ring. If ring sticks, run a sharp thin paring knife around the crust to loosen.
- Cool completely and dust with powdered sugar before serving.
- Serve chilled.
Ricky Webster is the pastry and baking genius behind Rind & Wheat Bakery and Morsel in Spokane, WA.