Mar 312020

Torta della Nonna

Torta della Nonna

Makes one 10” tart

This traditional “Grandmother’s Cake” is a comforting combination of short-crust pastry and lemon custard topped with pine nuts. I’ve given it an added boost of zest with Michele Ferrante’s Culinary Orange Peel Powder. It’s delicious for breakfast or as served as a rustic dessert.


For the Pastry Crust:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Zest of one 1 lemon
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (chilled and cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Michele Ferrante Culinary Orange Peel Powder

For the Pastry Cream Filling:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (divided)
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1 teaspoon Michele Ferrante Culinary Orange Peel Powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Topping:

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (rinsed and mostly dried)
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar


  1. Make the pastry crust: Add the all-purpose flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, lemon zest, culinary orange peel powder, and unsalted butter to a food processor.
  2. Pulse a few times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Add the egg and egg yolk and pulse until a dough ball forms. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  4. Make the custard. Add the whole milk and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar to a pot over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, potato starch, culinary orange peel powder, and salt.
  6. Temper the egg mixture by adding a ladle full of the hot milk into the bowl and whisking well. Then, pour the egg mixture into the pot with the rest of the milk and return to the heat while quickly whisking.
  7. Continue cooking for several minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the top of the custard (to prevent a skin forming) and allow to cool, at room temperature, while the pastry dough chills.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Divide the chilled pastry into two pieces with one being about a third larger than the other.
  9. On a well-floured surface, roll the larger piece into about a 12-inch circle and drape it into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
  10. Pour in the cooled pastry cream.
  11. Roll out the second, smaller piece of dough to about a 10-inch circle and drape it over the top of the tart. Press the top and bottom dough ends together and trim off the excess.
  12. Sprinkle the lightly damp pine nuts on top of the crust and press them down gently. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden brown. Bake long enough so the bottom crust is crispy. If the top starts to brown, lay a sheet of foil over it and continue to bake.
  13. Allow the tart to cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar and serving.

About Keli Sim DeRitis

Keli Sim DeRitis is an artist, designer, passionate cook, teacher, and tour guide. Keli founded Poggi Bonsi in 2001 to share her love of European travel, food, wine, and culture. Connect with me on Google+