Grandma's cake

Grandma's cake

Torta della nonna

By
From
The Italian Baker
Serves
8-10

In every culture, in every tradition, there is always a “grandma’s cake”. For some reason, things made by grandmothers always taste better. It’s like an insurance for success: “If this is grandma’s recipe, then you can be sure it’s good”. It’s because things were once made with love, using real ingredients. Without being expert pastry chefs, our beloved grandmothers were able to impress the family on every occasion. And grandma’s cooking stays with us for ever, becoming part of our heritage. We Italians are very proud of our grannies!

This cake, or rather tart, comes from Tuscany and was actually created by an Italian chef rather than a grandmother. But my grandmother used to make it, so to me it qualifies. It has many variations, such as the addition of cocoa powder (in which case it is called grandpa’s cake) and is so famous where I live that you can find it in almost every restaurant.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

For the pastry

Quantity Ingredient
300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
150g butter, chilled and diced, plus a little extra, softened, for greasing
120g caster sugar
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
pinch salt
1 lemon, zest grated

For the crème pâtissière

Quantity Ingredient
1 litre whole milk
1 lemon, zest grated
8 egg yolks
150g caster sugar
150g plain flour

To decorate

Quantity Ingredient
120g pine nuts
icing sugar

Method

  1. Put the flour on the work surface. Add the chilled butter and, using your fingertips, rub into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mound up the mixture and make a well in the middle. Add the sugar, whole egg and extra yolks to the well, with the salt and lemon zest. Knead lightly to form a dough, then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Butter a 20 cm round fluted tart tin with a removable base and dust with flour. Divide the dough in two, place one half in the fridge and roll the other half out to a thickness of about 3mm. Use to line the tart tin, pressing the pastry gently into the grooves.
  3. Make the crème pâtissière. Put the milk and lemon zest in a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to a boil, then strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Allow to cool.
  4. Using a stand mixer or an electric hand-held whisk, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until creamy and frothy. Gradually whisk in the flour. Pour the cooled milk back into the pan over a medium heat and add the egg and sugar mixture. Using a balloon whisk, stir constantly until the cream thickens. Pour the crème into a shallow bowl and cover with cling film, touching the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  5. Remove the pastry case from the fridge and pour the crème pâtissière inside the case. Roll out the other half of dough to a circle large enough to fit over the tart. Place it over the tart, pressing the edges all around to seal (do this properly or the crème will seep out during baking). Sprinkle the pine nuts all over the surface and bake for 40 minutes, until the pastry is golden. Leave to cool, then dust with icing sugar before serving.
Tags:
baking
cakes
biscuits
Italian
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