Second only to tiramisù in popularity, this Italian dessert was created by the late chef Guido Samorini who ran a restaurant in Florence until relatively recently. When his customers lamented the lack of choice in cakes for dessert, Samorini invented the Torta della Nonna, also known in English as Grandma’s Cake.
For the pastry:
375g plain flour
150g powdered sugar
3 egg yolks
Zest of 1 lemon
Handful of sliced almonds
For the custard filling:
1 litre milk
8 egg yolks
60g corn starch
1 lemon peel
1 fresh vanilla pod
Scrape all seeds out of the vanilla pod and place in a saucepan with milk and lemon peel and bring to a gentle boil.
In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until light and frothy. Add the flour and continue to beat.
Remove the vanilla pod and lemon peel from the milk and gradually add the milk to the egg mixture, beating constantly.
Slowly reheat the mixture, stirring constantly, until it’s thick. Let the mixture cool with saran wrap clinging to the surface of the mixture so that a skin does not form.
Cut the butter into small pieces, and on a wooden surface, work the flour, sugar, and butter together until the butter is completely worked in.
Make the mixture into a mound and make a well in the center. Add the egg yolks and lemon zest to the well, and work the ingredients together until you have a smooth, soft dough. Wrap the dough in saran wrap and refrigerate for 30-90 minutes.
Once it has cooled, divide the pastry in half and roll out one half into a disk and place in a tart dish, approximately 1 cm thick.
Pour the custard into the tart dish.
Roll out the remaining pastry dough into another disk and place it on to the custard to close the pie. Decorate the top with sliced almonds.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 25-35 minutes until the pastry is golden and the almonds are toasted. Leave to cool and dust with powdered sugar.