By Chef Stephen Sands
Culinaria Cooking School
Florence’s Piazzale Michelangelo is among the most beautiful spots on all of Italy. Not only is it the best place to see the magical city on the River Arno, it is a great location to enjoy the many cafés. One of my favorites is the grand restaurant called La Loggia, where they serve a delicious rendition of Torta della Nonna, a lovely cream-filled torte — and one of my favorite desserts.
My first exposure to this sweet treat was in my own Nonna’s kitchen. Each Father’s Day, I celebrate the love I felt for her by whipping up this delicious cake for my family.
I do hope you’ll join me in the tradition. After all, there’s nothing better for your heart and soul than spreading joy through fabulous homemade food. Salud!
How to Bake Torta della Nonna
What you’ll need for the filling:
1 cup milk
3 large eggs, yolks only
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 T. all-purpose flour
2-3 T. orange liqueur
What you’ll need for the cake:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter cut into 2” cubes, softened
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract.
1 large egg yolk w/ 1 tsp. water, for egg wash
1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
To make the filling:
1. In a medium saucepan, heat milk until bubbles form around the edges.
2. Remove from heat and pour milk into a separate bowl. Slowly whisk in egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and flour.
3. Transfer mixture back to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it just comes to a boil. Turn down heat until the mixture is simmering, then remove from heat and stir in the orange liqueur.
4. With a spatula, scrape custard onto a sheet pan, and sprinkle with sugar.
5. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled.
To make the cake:
1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg and vanilla, and stir until dough forms. Divide it in half.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and butter a 9-inch round cake pan.
3. Press one-half of the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan and 2 inches up the sides. Spread the chilled custard over the center of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the remaining dough to a 9-inch circle. Drape the dough over the rolling pin and place it over the filling. Pinch the edges together to seal. Brush the egg wash over the top, and with a small knife, make four slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Sprinkle with pine nuts.
5. Bake for 35 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto another wire rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
Note: This cake is best served at room temperature and should be stored in the refrigerator if being held for more than two hours. If you must store it in the fridge, be sure to remove it at least one hour before serving.
About Culinaria Cooking School
Founded in 2008, Culinaria Cooking School brings together professional chefs and wine experts who want to share their passion for the culinary arts with the community. Conveniently located in the heart of Vienna, VA, the state-of-the art facility features modern equipment for use by our instructors and students.
The team includes (above, from left to right): Chef and CEO Stephen Sands, Office Manager Stefanie Sacripante, Chef and VP Pete Snaith, Chef Brian Batsel, Chef Robyn Alexander, Chef Bonita Woods, and Wine Director John Peters.
To sign up for a class, visit www.culinariacookingschool.com.