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Torta della Nonna

Torta della Nonna: the authentic step by step recipe

Torta della Nonna

Take a look at the step by step photographic authentic recipe of the Torta della Nonna executed by pastry chef Francesco Elmi.


Zuppa Inglese
Photo 1
Pasta frolla shortcrust pastry
500 gr
Confectionary custard
400 gr
Pine nuts
100 gr
Genoese sponge
300 gr
Confectionary sugar
(Photo 1)


Roll out the pasta frolla to a thickness of 4 mm (photos 2 & 3).
Line a round mould, diameter 25 cm.
Cut the edge at three quarts of the height of the mould using the rippled dough cutter (photo 4).
Puncture the bottom lightly; lay down a layer of Genoese sponge (photos 5 & 6).

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

Photo 5

Photo 6

Spread the custard inside this uniformly (photo 7), sprinkle the surface with the pine nuts (photo 8), dust with confectionary sugar (photo 9) and bake at 175° C with closed draft for approximately 35 minutes (photo 10).
Remove from the mould and dust the surface with confectionary sugar (photos 11, 12 & 13).

Photo 7

Photo 8

Photo 9

Photo 10

Photo 11

Photo 12

Photo 13

Pasta frolla


Flour 1000 gr
Butter, at room temperature 700 gr
Sugar, confectionary 400 gr
Egg yolks 200 gr
Salt 2 gr
Lemon peels, grated 2
Vanilla pod 1


Knead the butter at room temperature and the confectionary sugar, add the egg yolks, lemon peel, vanilla and the salt. Then add the flour kneading it as little as possible. Yields 6 pasta frollas, 24 cm in diameter.

Genoese Sponge


Eggs 1500 gr
Sugar 600 gr
Flour 750 gr
Vanilla pod 1


Warm the eggs, while mixing continuously with a whisk, to 38° C, then add the sugar.
Whip well, then add the vanilla and finally add the sieved flour, mixing delicately.
Butter a cake pan or rings, carefully fill with the dough.
Bake at 175° C for approximately 25 minutes. 
Yields 8 cakes 20 cm in diameter.

Confectionary custard

Ingredients (custard only with egg yolks)

Milk 1 lt
Sugar 250 gr
Egg yolks 260 gr
Flout 60 gr
Salt 2 gr
Vanilla pod 1
Lemon peel 1


Bring the milk, vanilla and lemon peel to a boil.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar well, then add the salt and the flour until it becomes almost as if whipped.
Add the boiling milk, stir with a whisk.
Leave on the flame until the consistency becomes that of cream and the temperature arrives at 92° C. Pour the custard into a stainless steel receptacle, cover it with transparent film and place in the refrigerator.

Recipes Editor and La Vita è Dolce Worldwide Tour Coordinator: Elena Ruocco.


La Torta della Nonna with Chef Christian Frigo in Bahrain

Torta della Nonna

We arrive in Bahrain for the 16th step of La Vita è Dolce World Tour and we will stay there for a week where Chef Christian Frigo will feature in his menu the Torta della Nonna at the Primavera Restaurant, Ritz-Carlton Hotel & Spa where he is the Chef de Cuisine.

Previous to his assignment at Primavera, Christian served as Italian Chef de Cuisine at the restaurant Favola of Le Royal Meridien Shanghai. Besides that he used to work in the same position at the Intercontinental Hotel Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman where he was involved in the strategic planning of the opening of the hotel’s Italian restaurant: Tomato. Chef Christian also brings with him an extensive international background from working in Europe and culinary skills which have been crafted since he started his career 15 years ago.

Torta della Nonna
Torta della Nonna with poached pears in red wine,
cinnamon and rosemary

Primavera is a truly unique Italian restaurant. Authentic flavors burst through risottos, homemade pasta and fresh seafood entrees. The air is scented with fresh breads and guests are invited to enjoy a culinary journey showcasing the different flavors of fine Italian cuisine,” says Christian Frigo. “My culinary creations reflect specialty from all over Italy; from the north, from where I came from, to the south”, he adds. Primavera´s customers will have the chance of tasting this week Chef Frigo´s version of the special dolce: Torta della nonna, pere marinate al vino rosso, cannella e rosmarino or Grandmother´s cake, poached pears in red wine, cinnamon and rosemary.

The Truth about the Torta della Nonna

The truth is that Torta della Nonna, as popular as it may be, has a simple family based history.  That’s why the news and sources about it are very scant. It is a sweet born out of the great “minor” history, the one in which courts, wars, governments are not involved, but it’s not less important. Torta della nonna was born between home walls. The name itself, “grandmother’s cake”, anoints this familiar environment, in which the grandmother had an affective leadership. When was torta della nonna born? There are no reliable documents available. We can only guess a date, based on the main components of the sweet, indeed all milestones of the Renaissance pastry art: shortcrust pastry, Pan di Spagna (genoise) and crema pasticciera (confectionary custard). Though rudimental custards were already made by ancient Romans, the one used in Torta della nonna, known as confectionary custard, crème patissiere in French, gained popularity only in the 18th century. Pan di Spagna as we have seen in the history of zuppa inglese began to be known in Italy at the end of the 16th century and roughly at the same time pasta frolla, shortcrust pastry, started to be regularly used in Europe. It’s likely that the three components were mixed at a much later stage; possibly well into the 19th century. Some authors say that the initial torta della nonna was filled with ricotta and not crema pasticciera, so it was a cheese based cake. In such a case it could have been a descendant of these sweets made by the Romans (and Arabs at a later stage), such as cassata al forno in Sicily. In reality, although there are some similarities, ricotta cakes definitively belong to another category of sweets. Torta della Nonna is now common all around Italy but according to tradition it has a special connection with Tuscany and in effect is often presented as a Tuscan sweet.

Torta della Nonna

Torta della Nonna: Italian home sweetness (VIDEO)


La Torta della Nonna (literally "Grandma's cake"), is a dolce whose origin is hard to pin down (because it was born in the kitchens of Tuscan homes) and that evoques the warm scents of Grandma's affection, and for that, an unforgettable sweet that couldn't be absent from our La vita è Dolce World Tour in this sixteenth step. A recipe of Torta della Nonna is presented above in a video by Francesco Elmi.

Click here to watch the video recipe of the Genoese Sponge, and of the confectionary custard.