Torta della Nonna
Tuscan indulgence

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Torta della Nonna

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Adjust Servings:
For the dough:
45 g Almond flour
375 g Wheat flour
1 Egg yolks
1 Egg
135 g Powder sugar
185 g Butter
1 Lemon
For the filling:
15 g Wheat flour
25 g Vanilla powder
2 Eggs
110 g Granulated sugar
1 Vanilla pod
1,25 ml Milk
250 ml Sour cream
For the finish:
Pine nuts
1 Egg yolks
Powder sugar


  • For the dough:

  • For the filling:

  • For the finish:



This sumptuous recipe offers a slice of Tuscan indulgence, with a sweet pastry base giving way to lemon- and vanilla-scented custard filling. Topped off with a thin layer of pastry and crunchy pine nuts, this tart is a real treat.

A classic, Tuscan-born tart, Torta della Nonna has to be one of the most widespread and well-known Italian desserts. Its success likely lies in its simplicity: it consists of nothing more than two sheets of slightly leavened sugar pastry enclosing a creamy heart of lemon-scented custard. The top is studded with crunchy pine nuts and dusted with icing sugar, and no variants on this theme have ever gained much momentum.

Although the name might suggest otherwise, Torta della Nonna (Grandma’s cake) isn’t a homestead creation; it wasn’t, in other words, invented by some pastry-savvy grandmother somewhere in the hills of Chianti. Rather, it appears to come from the kitchen of a restaurant. The origin is actually contentious, and is still reason for much debate between the provinces of Arezzo and Florence, each claiming this tart as their own brainchild.

The most accredited version states that it was a Florentine chef who first coded it – Guido Samorini of restaurant San Lorenzo. Rumour has it that he put the tart on the menu to jazz up the slightly monotone dessert list, and that the tart became an instant hit, so much so that it was never taken off the menu ever since.

Torta della Nonna
Torta della Nonna

Be that as it may, the combination of pastry, custard and pine nuts seems to have been around since much before Samorini; at least since the late 1800s, as Artusi mentions he tasted such pasticcio (hash) in one of his travels across the peninsula.

As for the custard, Artusi scents his solely with vanilla, while a classic Torta della Nonna filling has a bit of lemon zest thrown in there, too, so I worked it in his crema pasticcera recipe. And finally, a trick to prevent the pine nuts from burning is to rinse them thoroughly in cold water: they’ll come out of the oven perfectly golden, and just on the right side of toasted.

Let the butter come to room temperature and cut into cubes. Put them in the bowl of the food processor. Put the K-shaped attachment on it. Add the sugar, the egg and the egg yolk. Let the machine run on medium/low speed.

Mix the flour with the almond powder and a pinch of salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture one spoon at a time.

Wash the lemon and grate the peel. Put half of the zest in the dough and knead well. The other half of the zest goes with the filling. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it stiffen in the refrigerator for an hour.

Heat the sour cream with the milk in a saucepan. Cut the vanilla pod open lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a sharp knife. Put the seeds and the pod in the cream with milk. Also add the lemon zest kept separate.

Beat the sugar with the complete eggs in the food processor (with beater) until ruban. Add the pudding powder and the wheat flour. Remove some of the warm milk from the ruban and stir. Pour the mixture into the rest of the milk and let it bind to the fire.

Put the pudding in a piping bag. Allow to cool and stiffen in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease the cake tin with some butter and dust with flour. Roll out two thirds of the dough on the worktop with a rolling pin. Put it in the cake base. Spray the cream on the dough.

Roll out the rest of the dough. Beat the egg yolk with a dash of milk. Brush the edge of the dough into the cake pan with some beaten egg. Place the top of the cake on the pudding. Go over it with the rolling pin to cut the edges.

Make a notch in the top of the dough. Brush the top with the beaten egg so that the cake will shine beautifully. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the cake.

Bake the pie in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool completely. Remove them from the form. Sprinkle with sugar and serve.

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