ITALIAN CUSTARD TART WITH RHUBARB (TORTA DELLA NONNA)
Torta della Nonna is a classic Italian dessert (translating to grandmother’s tart) from the region of Tuscany. This custard tart is made with a buttery shortcrust pastry and filled with a rich and creamy custard with vanilla. We’ve made this dessert truly special is the addition of tangy rhubarb. The tartness of the rhubarb balances out the sweet custard and brings a beautiful fruity flavour in every bite. If you’re looking to surprise and delight your guests, this Italian custard tart with rhubarb is it!
FOR THE PASTRY (PASTA FROLLA)
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
200g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
115g icing/caster sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg and 1 egg yolk, room temperature
FOR THE CUSTARD (CREMA PASTICCERA)
5 egg yolks from 5 large eggs
500ml whole milk
110g Caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla paste or 1 vanilla pod
Zest of 1 Lemon
15–30g Pine Nuts
THE SWEET PASTRY CRUST
- To make the pastry, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest in a food processor or a large bow.
- Add in the cold butter cut into cubes and blitz (or rub with your fingers) until the mix turns into a sandy texture.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg and egg yolk, then add to the mix and pulse, or mix until it starts to come together.
- Then, tip on to a floured work surface and, using your hands, bring it together to form a smooth flat disc. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour.
- In the meantime, let’s make the custard. Add the milk with the vanilla pod cut in half with the seeds scrapped into the milk (or the vanilla essence) to a saucepan. Warm up over medium heat until just hot. Remove the vanilla pod and set the milk aside.
- In a large bowl add the egg yolks and the sugar and whisk until just combined. Add in the cornflour and wish until combined and smooth.
- Next, very sowly, starting first with a tablespoon at a time, add the warm milk into the egg mixture stirring constantly. If you rush this step you will risk scrambling your eggs! Once you have added a third of the milk in you can use a ladle and finish adding the milk in, whilst still whisking continuously.
- Now, pour the custard mixture back into the saucepan you warmed the milk in. Heat it on a low heat stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until the custard is thick. If you take the spoon out you should have some custard stay on the spoon in a V shape, rather than drip down too quickly.
- Now your custard is ready, pour it into a clean bowl, cover the surface with cling film to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool. To make the process faster, you can set the bowl over an ice bath or place in the fridge until cooled down.
THE TORTA DELLA NONNA
- Heat the oven to 180˚C/ 175˚C fan/ gas mark 4. Lightly grease and flour a 24cm tart tin.
- Place your pine nuts into a bowl of cold water for about 15 min. This will prevent them from burning in the oven too quickly. Dry them with a clean tea towel before using.
- Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll onto a floured surface to a 2mm thickness. Carefully lift up your pastry over the tart tin and press it into the edges, before cutting off any excess that’s hanging. The pastry can be delicate so don’t panic if it breaks a little, patch any tear or holes with more dough. Pierce all over the bottom of the tart.
- Pour the custard mix into the tart case to fill it then smooth out the top.
- Top the custard with the rhubarb cut into pieces of about 3-4cm long, push them down slightly, and finally scatter the pine nuts on top.
- Bake your Torta Della Nonna for 40 to 45 minutes until deeply golden. Allow the custard tart to cool down slightly before serving.