Torta della Nonna (“Grandmother’s Cake”)

December 11, 2020  |  By Peg Kern
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Traditional torta della nonna made during a cooking vacation in ItalyMake this traditional Italian dessert on a cooking vacation in Italy.  Popular throughout Italy, the “torta della nonna,” which means “Granmother’s cake,” combines many of our favorite Italian flavors including custard and pine nuts. It is found throughout Italy and is one of the country’s most beloved desserts. The following version from one of our favorite chefs in Tuscany has raisins, but we’ve tasted many versions that do not. Include them or not as you prefer! We’ve also had versions that omit the pine nuts from the filling and just put them on the top, but we prefer the nuttiness of this recipe.

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Torta della nonna

Serves: 10
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Cook method: Bake

Read about the history of another famous Italian dessert.


  • 250 grams butter (about 9 oz)
  • 320 grams flour (11 oz)
  • 14 eggs
  • 340 grams sugar (120 oz)
  • 1 liter milk (about 1 quart)
  • 50 grams pine nuts
  • 30 grams raisins (optional)
  • 30 grams powder sugar (for dusting)

InstructionsEggs ready for a baking class during a culinary tour of Italy

1. How to make the pie dough (pasta frolla):  In a bowl knead the butter quickly with 140 grams of the sugar and 1 whole egg. Add 250 grams of flour and knead the compound again. Let the pasta frolla rest in the refrigerator for about 4 hours.

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2. How to make the custard:  Heat the milk to its boiling point. Separate the yolks from the egg whites and place in two bowls.

3. Beat 12 yolks with the remaining flour and the sugar in a heat-proof bowl and place over a bain marie.

4. Add the warm milk slowly to the yolk/flour/sugar mixture stirring continually with a whisk, and continue to cook until the cream thickens. Then place aside to let cool.

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Crust ready for a dessert class during a cooking vacation in Italy5. Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge and work it again with your hands or a rollin pin on a pre-floured surface. Stretch 3/5 of the pasta frolla inside a round tart dish.

6. Fill the dish with the custard and sprinkle raisins and half the pine nuts over the top.

7. Stretch out the remaining pasta frolla and then cover the custard filling. Press the edges of the 2 doughs together with your hands.

8. Beat an egg and spread on top of the pie dough with a small brush. Garnish with the rest of pine nuts, rinsed with cold water, on top. (The moisture helps keep them from becoming too brown).

9. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 C (350 F) for 40 minutes.

10. Let cool completely. Serve the cake on a plate and sprinkle with powder sugar.

Try a delicious recipe for a simple white cake with pastry cream filling

Looking for more fabulous dessert recipes? Try this one for tiramisú.

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