Torta della Nonna
(Makes one 8 to 9-inch cake)
Torta della nonna, the charmingly named 'Grandma's cake,' is a popular Italian dessert that is
traditionally from Tuscany but can found in every region of Italy. There are as many variations of this cake as their are Italian grandmas. Some are filled with a vanilla custard, others have a
ricotta cheese filling; some have a top crust, others do not. But it is fairly common for the cake to be flavored with lemon and to have pine nuts on the top and sometimes in the filling as well.
This dessert is much better a day or two after it's baked. It is served cold with a dusting of
Pasta Frolla (Tart Crust):
1-1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup pine nuts
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
To make the crust:
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter; pulse until the mixture begins to look like cornmeal. Add the egg and extract. Pulse just until the mixture begins to come together. Gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
To make the filling:
In a bowl, whisk together all of the filling ingredients until well combined.
To assemble the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter an 8 or 9-inch fluted-edge tart pan with a removable bottom.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a circle about 10-12 inches in diameter. Don't be concerned if the dough rips or cracks; it repairs very easily. Place the dough in the tart pan; gently press to cover the bottom and sides. Use your thumb to remove excess dough around the edge of the tart pan.
Pour the filling evenly into the crust; smooth the top. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the filling. Bake for 30-35 minutes, just until the center is firm and doesn't wiggle when you shake the pan. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. Remove the edge ring of the tart pan and cool the tart completely; refrigerate until serving. To serve, dust the top of the cake with confectioners' sugar and cut into wedges.
Torta della Nonna - Grandma's Cake
A traditional tart pan with short fluted sides and a removable bottom makes unmolding easy. But have you ever wound up wtih the still-hot ring looped around your arm? Try resting the pan on an over-tuned bowl; the rim will slip down away from the crust. Then use a metal cake server to loosen the tart from the bottom and lift it onto a serving plate.
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Roll out pie crusts to exact dimensions. Marked with circles for pie crusts and edged with a ruler for bread or other square or rectangular doughs. The board is reversible to a plain side for other projects.