A crispy base, a heart of lemon cream and to top it off, crunchy pine nuts. “Granny cake” is what they call this delicacy in Italy. It is a declaration of love to Tuscany and to all grandmothers of the world who sweeten our lives.
Has to be alla crema!
Originally, the torta con crema e pinoli comes from Tuscany, but today it is known throughout Italy. The filling consists of crema pasticcera, one of the cornerstones of Italian baking. It is similar to vanilla pudding in taste, but is smoother and can be flavoured as desired, for example with lemon or fruit syrup. This makes the cream the perfect filling for fluffy bignè (a kind of choux pastry), for cornetti (Italian croissants) as well as for cakes and crostata.
Torta della Nonna - Granny cake - is also a crostata, in Italy the umbrella term for all short pastry cakes. The word is derived from crosta (crust). As far as toppings and fillings are concerned, there are almost no limits to your imagination: fresh fruit, cream, jam or a combination of all of these. Our recipe focuses – typically Tuscan – on lemon cream and pine nuts. If you want to go one step further, decorate with Italian meringue. It melts in your mouth just like Grandma's cake.
La Torta della Nonna
For the crema pasticcera with lemon flavour
- 800 ml milk
- 200 g whipping cream, Schlagsahne
- 3 lemons, untreated
- 1 vanilla pod, or vanilla extract
- 8 egg yolk
- 215 g sugar
- 80 g flour
- 30 g potato starch, or maize starch
For the dough
- 250 g butter, cold
- 160 g sugar
- 320 g flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch baking powder
- 1 pinch vanilla extract
- 1 lemon, untreated
- 3 egg yolk
- 2 handfuls pine nuts
- Place a bowl in the freezer as you will need this later when preparing the cream. Mix the milk and whipped cream and heat in a saucepan until the milk is not quite boiling. Cut the vanilla pod and add the scraped out pulp, pod and lemon peel to the pot and let it simmer.
- Sift flour and starch. Whisk the egg yolk and sugar. Then gradually add the flour mixture and mix well. Now strain off the milk and carefully pour it into the egg-flour mixture in two portions. Stir constantly. Pour the mixture back into the pot and heat it up for a few minutes over a medium heat while stirring or until the starch binds and the mixture becomes creamy.
- Pour the cream immediately into the ice-cooled bowl and stir vigorously until its temperature drops to 50 °C as quickly as possible. This avoids an egg taste and gives the cream its shine. Allow to cool and place in the refrigerator until you need it. A little sugar on the surface prevents a "skin" from forming. If the cream is not smooth enough afterwards, simply stir it again.
Dough and finish
- Quickly knead all the ingredients for the dough. Form a ball-like shape and let it rest in the fridge for half an hour. Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C (upper and lower heat). Cover a baking tin ø 24-26 cm with baking paper or grease well. Roll out two thirds of the dough thinly and line the bottom and edges of the baking tin with it. Prick the dough several times with a fork or toothpick. Cover the dough with baking paper and pulses and bake blind for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool down afterwards.
- Cover the cake base first with the cream and then with the rest of the rolled out dough. Prick the dough again several times with a fork or toothpick. Now cover the surface of the dough with pine nuts and bake the cake on a higher shelf for another 10-15 minutes. Let the cake cool down. Dust with icing sugar or serve with Italian meringue.
For this you need: 100 g egg white, 200 g sugar, 30 ml water. Heat water and sugar. When the syrup has reached a temperature of 115°C, beat the egg whites until stiff. When the syrup has reached 121 °C, mix it slowly, almost drop by drop, with the beaten egg whites. Now continue beating until the beaten egg whites have completely cooled down again. Pour into a piping bag and decorate the cake as desired. Put it under the hot grill for about 1-2 minutes. Better not to move from the grill as the meringue will brown quickly.