What’s Cooking?…Torta Della Susie

Torta Della Susie aka Torta Della Nona.

Torta Della Nona is a wonderful Italian pie / torte / dessert.  There are many variations of how this pie is made depending on the region of Italy and probably each Nona.  That is one of the things I just love about Italian food.  It’s so sensible.  Ingredients are used according to what is available and the season.    That’s why I don’t thinks it’s wrong for me to give you my version of this wonderful pie.

This is a dish I usually make when I’m on holidays.  It’s not that it’s difficult.  It’s not, but, it does require a bit of time and patience.  Don’t attempt to make it if you are in a hurry or feeling tired.  In true Italian tradition, put some love into it.  It really works!

This is how I do it.

This Torta is made in two parts the custard and the pastry.

Ingredients for the Custard

1/4 cup fine semolina flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

finely grated zest of one lemon

Ingredients for the Pastry

125 g of butter
125 g of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 egg yolks
pinch salt
3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup S/R flour
100 g pine nuts

 

Method for the Custard

Put the semolina flour, sugar, yolks and vanilla in a bowl.  Mix well together.  the sugar helps the break up the yolk.  add a little of the cold milk to make a smooth paste.  Mix until it is a lovely smooth paste.

Meanwhile heat the milk until almost boiling.

Add just a little of the hot milk to the custard base.  Mix well.  Add a little bit more of the hot milk.  Mix well.  This is called tempering the custard.  Helps to stop curdling and lumping.  Gradually add the rest of the milk stirring continuously.  Put over very low heat or put over a double boiler and stir constantly until it begins to coat the back of the spoon.  this will take about 10 minutes.

Once it comes to simmer point take off the heat.  Stir in the grated lemon zest.  Cover to prevent a skin forming.  allow to cool.

 

Now make the pastry.

Set oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a mixing bowl, put the butter, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla.

 

Mix at high speed until soft, white and fluffy.

Add the flours and salt and mix until well combined.  Turn out onto a clean floured surface.  Divide the dough.  Two thirds for the bottom and one third for the top.  With very clean hands, press the larger piece of dough into the base and right up the sides of a well buttered 25cm pie dish.

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Once the custard is cooled, pour it into the pastry shell.  Spread very gently to make even.  Roll out the rest of the dough to a 25cm circle.

Very carefully, lay it on top of the custard filling, try to make sure it’s centred.  Turn the edges of the sides of the dough onto the top pastry to seal it

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It will look at bit rustico.  That’s OK.  Don’t worry. Sprinkle with the pine nuts. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 40 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before cutting.  As with most torte’s the flavour and texture improve with keeping, (if you can).  Serve in wedges with whipped or pouring cream if desired.

 

 

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