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EAT: Torta della nonna

08 February 2021

A classic, Tuscan-born tart, Torta della Nonna (Grandma's Tart) has to be one of the most widespread and well-known Italian desserts. Its simple and seriously tasty - sugary pastry with a creamy heart of lemon-scented custard topped off with crunchy pine nuts and a dusting of icing sugar. 

Fresh, sweet and an utterly delicious summer pud! 

What you need...

For the Pastry

  • 150g unsalted Butter
  • 90g Icing Sugar, sifted
  • 3 medium Free-Range Egg Yolks, plus 1 for brushing
  • 200g Plain Flour
  • pinch of Salt

For the Lemon filling

  • 5 medium Free-Range Eggs
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • Finely grated zest 1 Lemon
  • Juice of 3 Lemons
  • 125ml Double Cream
  • 200g fresh Ricotta
  • 100g toasted Pine Nuts and Icing Sugar to serve

You’ll also need a 23cm deep loose-bottomed tart tin and ceramic baking beans (or uncooked rice)

What you do...

For the pastry, put the butter and icing sugar in a mixing bowl and use an electric hand mixer to beat until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the 3 egg yolks and beat again until combined. Add the flour and a pinch of salt and briefly whisk until just combined. Quickly bring the dough together with your hands, being careful not to over-work it. Press into a disc, wrap in cling film and chill for 45 minutes.

Heat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas 3½. Once the pastry has chilled, roll out to the thickness of a £1 coin and carefully line the tin. Trim the edges, then chill for 15 minutes. Crumple a sheet of non-stick baking paper, then use it to line the pastry case. Fill it with ceramic baking beans (or uncooked rice), then bake for 25 minutes. Remove the baking beans/rice and baking paper and bake for 5-10 minutes more, until the pastry is cooked through, golden and feels sandy to the touch.

Once the pastry is cooked, brush it with the remaining egg yolk and bake for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. This helps to seal the pastry and prevent it from going soggy after the filling is added. Turn the oven temperature down to 140°C/120°C fan/gas 1.

While the pastry is cooling, make the lemon filling. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until combined, then stir in the lemon zest and juice, followed by the cream. Skim any froth from the top with a large metal spoon (discard), then transfer to a jug.

Spoon the ricotta over the base of the cooled pastry case and spread out to an even layer using the back of the spoon or a spatula. Put the tart back on the oven shelf and carefully pour in the lemon filling.

Bake the ricotta and lemon tart for 35-40 minutes until the filling is just set with a slight wobble in the centre. Remove the tart and cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove from the tart tin and cool for another 10-15 minutes on a wire rack. While the tart is still warm, sprinkle over the toasted pine nuts, dust with icing sugar, then serve in slices.

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