The torta della nonna is merely translated as “grandma’s cake” and it is practically a crispy tart with a thick, delicious, lemony -and maybe even sweeter- cream, decorated with pine nuts and dusted with icing sugar. It comes from Florence and when the cream and pine nuts are replaced with chocolate and almonds, then it changes its name and from “torta della nonna” becomes “torta del nonno” (grandpa’s cake)!
For the dough
- Add the flour, sugar, salt, butter, vanilla into a food processor and beat for a few seconds until your mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
- Add the eggs and beat for a few more seconds, until you get a nice dough.
- Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured working surface and knead it a little with your hands.
- Divide it into two parts (⅔ and ⅓) and wrap each piece with plastic wrap. Refrigerate them to cool well for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Take the larger dough piece out of the refrigerator and with a rolling pin and a little flour, roll it out into a phyllo sheet large enough to cover the bottom and the sides of a 28 cm springform pan.
- Butter the pan and put the phyllo inside. With a fork, prick its whole surface and refrigerate it until you prepare the cream.
For the cream
- In a pot add the milk along with half of the sugar and bring them to a boil.
- As soon as the mixture starts getting hot, split the vanilla in half with a sharp knife, and remove the seeds. Add them to the pot along with the vanilla pod, and keep heating the milk.
- Just before it boils, remove the pot from the heat and allow the vanilla pod to infuse the mixture with its flavor for 10-15 minutes. Then, remove the vanilla pod.
- At the same time, in a mixer add the eggs, the remaining sugar, the flour, the lemon zest, and beat with the whisk attachment at high speed.
- When the mixture becomes very fluffy, slowly pour it into the pot with the hot milk, by stirring constantly with a hand whisk.
- Place the pot over medium heat and keep stirring. When the mixture comes to a boil, it will thicken almost immediately so you have to be very careful and check it all the time.
- When it thickens well, remove it from the heat and with a spatula, add the cream into a bowl.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap by making sure that it touches the cream’s surface, so that it won’t make a crust, and put the bowl in the refrigerator. You can store it there for 3 days.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350° F) set to fan.
- Take the tart, the cream, the ⅓ of the dough out of the refrigerator, and let them come to room temperature.
- Pour the cream over the tart crust and make sure to put some more in the center of the tart.
- Roll out the rest of the dough into a round phyllo sheet (a little bigger than the springform pan) and cover the cream with it.
- Seal the edges of the tart with the phyllo and press them together. With a fork, prick the phyllo a little.
- With a pastry brush, spread the diluted yolk over the phyllo and bake the tart for 45-50 minutes.
- Let it cool well before cutting and serving it, while you can even consume it cold, straight from the refrigerator.
For the decoration
- Before you serve it, dust the tart with icing sugar and garnish with lightly toasted pine nuts.
- If you do not want the pine nuts to get burnt, refrigerate them for a while before toasting them.