There are so many recipes out there for torta della nonna. Some of them include ricotta, some have a pastry lid, some are baked with a layer of flaked almonds and are more like a custard tart. I cannot profess to know which is the most traditional or authentic torta della nonna, or whether this recipe is even close to the Italian pastry.
I can tell you that this tastes fantastic, doesn’t need to be blind-baked and you could flavour the custard with anything you fancied, from lemon, orange, almond or even liqueurs, it’s extremely versatile.
I’ve adapted the recipe from one I found in Delicious Magazine and I used my favourite short crust pastry recipe from Julie Jones’ book Soulful Baker. If you haven’t got a copy you need to get one, it’s such a fantastic book.
Italy is a country I’m longing to visit after studying Italian at school and the sheer amount of delicious recipes and ingredients that come from there. Cannoli are on my list of recipes to try and I really need to try and make some kind of tiramisu again as it’s such a delicious dessert and all of the versions I have on here are a bit sad.
- ***Shortcrust Pastry***
- 460g Plain Flour
- 250g Unsalted Butter
- 100g Icing Sugar
- ½ Tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
- 2 Egg Yolks + 1 Egg Yolk for glazing
- 4 Tbsp Milk
- ***Custard Filling***
- 4 Medium Egg Yolks
- 50g Plain Flour
- 500ml Milk
- 100g Caster Sugar
- 1 Tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
- 50g White Chocolate Chopped
- 50g Pine nuts
- Make the pastry by placing the flour and butter in a food mixer with the paddle attachment and gently mix until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the icing sugar and mix through.
- Add the egg yolks, vanilla bean paste and the milk and mix until it begins to form a dough.
- Take the dough out of the food mixer and split it in half. Shape each portion into a block about 1cm thick, this will make it easier to roll out. Cover it in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- Next make the custard filling while the pastry is resting, place the egg yolks, flour, milk, caster sugar and vanilla bean paste in a saucepan and whisk to combine.
- Stir over a gentle heat with a wooden spoon or spatula for 10 minutes until thickened and it coats the back of the spoon.
- Stir the white chocolate into the custard until it has melted and is smooth, put the custard in bowl and set it to one side to cool.
- Take a 23cm loose bottomed tart tin and roll out the pastry between two sheets of greaseproof paper so that you don't add any extra flour. When the pastry is rolled out big enough to cover the tin lay the pastry over the tin, pressing it into the sides and base of the tin.
- Trim the pastry a little, but leave a bit of excess pastry, pour the cooled custard into the pastry case and spread it out evenly. Place in the fridge to chill as you roll out the pastry top.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C FAN/ gas 4 and roll out the other piece of pastry so that it is big enough to cover the top of the pie, take the pie from the fridge and with a pastry brush, brush egg yolk mixed with a litter water around the exposed edge of the pastry, then lay the rolled out bit of pastry on top and press them together.
- Trim the excess from the pie and then using a flower plunger cutter, cut out different sized flowers and put these all over the top of the pie and brush with egg wash, then sprinkle the pine nuts over the pie, or decorate however you like with the excess pastry.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until golden, leave in the tin to cool so that the pastry and custard continue to cook more. Then remove from the tin and place on a rack to cool.
- Can be served warm or cold.
Do you have any Italian desserts or recipe you absolutely love or recommend that I should give a try? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading.