Torta della Nonna (Nan's Cake)

Round off your meal in style with Aldo Zilli's recipe for a classic Italian tart, filled with crema pasticcera
By Aldo Zilli
Torta della Nonna (Nan's Cake)
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 12
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Effort: medium



  • 500 g sweet shortcrust pastry
  • 50 g pine kernels
  • 50 g raisins, blanched
  • 50 ml rum
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • vanilla sugar, to serve

For the crema pasticcera:

  • 1 litres milk
  • 350 g caster sugar
  • grated zest of 1 lemons
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 6 egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • 125 g plain flour


1. For the crema pasticcera reserve a small cup of milk from the litre, Put the remaining milk into a heavy-based saucepan with 175g caster sugar, lemon zest and vanillia pod and heat slowly to just below boiling point.

2. In the meantime, lightly whisk the egg yolks and the pinch of salt in a bowl. Sift the flour into the bowl, whisking gently and making sure that no lumps form.

3. Whisk in the remaining sugar, and then the reserved milk. Whisk until smooth.

4. By this time the milk in the pan should be just below boiling point. Remove the vanilla pod and lemon zest, and then pour the scalding milk on to the egg mixture, whisking briskly whilst doing so.

5. Return the mixture to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring with a wooden spoon all the time. As the mixture boils it will begin to get thicker and then suddenly go very thick. Remove at once from direct heat and the mixture as quickly as possible. A good way to do this is to place the base of the saucepan into cold or iced water and stir the mixture gently so a skin does not form as it cools.

6. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.

7. Roll out the pastry and cut out a 25cm disc. Transfer the pastry disc to a lightly greased baking sheet.

8. Mix the pine nuts, raisins and rum with the cooled crema pasticcera.

9. Spread the mixture over the shortcrust pastry to form a dome shape.

10. Roll out the remaining pastry into a disc large enough to cover the dome. Press the edges together and trim neatly.

11. Brush with the beaten egg and pierce a few times with a folk.

12. Bake in the preheated oven for an hour or until golden. Remove and allow to cool.

13. Transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle with vanilla sugar and serve.

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