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Torta Della Nonna (custard pie)

A simple and delicious buttery custard pie with traditional sugared pine nut topping and creamy custard filling. This is an Italian classic which translates to "Grandmother's cake" in Italian. A wonderful guest recipe from Bex ( @chefbexie ). Find more of her recipes here.

Time to prep : 30 minutes

Time to bake : 45 minutes

Servings : 12



180g butter, chilled and cubed

170g caster sugar

1tsp vanilla

8g baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

400g plain flour

2 egg yolks

1 whole egg

Zest of 1 lemon


700ml milk

Zest of 1 lemon

5 egg yolks

90g caster sugar

70g plain flour

15g butter


80g pine nuts rinsed in cold water

10g butter (melted)

Icing sugar to dust

1 x 24cm tart (2-3cm deep) quiche or tart tin



  1. Rub the butter and sugar together with your fingertips until a fine crumb forms. Stir in the vanilla, baking powder, salt, and flour. Whisk together the egg, yolks and lemon zest. Fold through the dry mixture and then knead the dough until it comes together into a firm dough.

  2. Chill the dough for 20 mins - 1 hour or until firm.

Custard and pine nut topping

  1. Grease and line a baking tray with baking paper.

  2. Heat the milk and lemon zest together in a saucepan, bring to a gentle boil and then strain through a fine sieve. Discard the lemon zest. Set the lemon infused warm milk to one side.

  3. Beat the egg yolks until frothy, add the sugar and flour and mix together. Add a splash of the warm milk to loosen the mixture, stirring it the whole time.

  4. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan with the remaining warm milk. Heat gently over a low - medium heat, whisking constantly with a balloon whisk. Keep whisking as the custard can burn very easily! Continue to heat and whisk until the custard comes to a gentle boil and thickened, then add the 15g of butter. Continue to whisk for a few minutes to avoid lumps.

  5. Pour the smooth custard onto the lined baking tray and cover with cling wrap to avoid a skin. Set to one side to cool slightly whilst you make toast the pine nuts.

  6. For the pine nut topping, toast the pine nuts in a dry saucepan over a high heat until lightly golden. Remove from the heat and add the butter. Let the butter melt and coat the nuts, set to one side.


  1. Now you have all components ready it’s time to assemble our pie and bake! Preheat a fan oven to 170°C.

  2. Divide your pastry dough into two, one will be the base and the other will be our topping. Roll out one half of the pastry dough between 2 sheets of baking paper dusted lightly with flour. Press this lightly into your tart-tin as a base, ensuring all parts of the tin are covered to avoid leaking custard. Prick the pastry base with a fork lightly and then pour the cooled custard on top.

  3. Repeat with the second half of your pastry and lay it on top of the custard to create the top of the pie, pinching the sides to seal them, making sure there are no gaps or holes.

  4. Scatter the buttered pine nuts on top and place the pie on a tray and then into the oven.

  5. Bake for 45 minutes or until pastry is golden and firm to touch. If you find your pine nuts start to burn, loosely wrap a layer of foil over the top of the tart and continue to bake for the remaining time.

  6. Remove from the oven, allow the pie cool. Serve dusted generously with icing sugar.

Good to know:

  • Any additional pastry scraps you have remaining can be used as garnish/keep in the freezer or make a small individual pie.

  • Rotate the tart halfway through to ensure even baking as most ovens will have hot spots.

  • Rolling the pastry sheets between two sheets of baking paper dusted lightly with flour will help prevent the dough sticking.

  • Traditionally the pie is topped with pine nuts however you can change this to any nuts you prefer, try flaked almonds, chopped hazelnuts, pecans or walnuts.

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