There are probably as many “Grandmother’s cakes” as there are grandmothers, but this wonderful cake can be found constantly called by this name in many cities in Northern Italy. Make sure the pine nuts are fresh. Sometimes if they are stale the have a funny rancid taste. Buy the pine nuts in the Fall when they are in season and freeze them to prevent deterioration.
for the dough
1 ½ cups (200 gr) flour
¼ cup (35 gr) cornstarch
1/3 cup (80 gr) sugar
4 ½ oz (120 gr) butter, diced (at room temperature)
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 grated lemon rind
pinch of salt
for the custard
1 ¼ cup (300 cc) milk, lukewarm
1 slice lemon peel
4 egg yolks
2/3 cup (120 gr) sugar
1/3 cup (40 gr) flour
¾ cup (200gr) heavy cream
1/2 tea spoon vanilla
4 oz (100 gr) pine nuts
Equipment: Shallow tart pan approximately 9” (23 cm) diameter, possibly with removable bottom.
Preparing the dough:
On a work surface mix flour and cornstarch.
Shape in a mound with a hole in the center.
Add in the well sugar, diced butter, two egg yolks, vanilla, grated lemon rind, and pinch of salt.
Mix the ingredients with the help of a fork, then combine the flour .....
..... and knead to form smooth dough.
Cover with a plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for one hour.
Preparing the custard:
Warm the milk with the lemon peel. In a small saucepan place egg yolks, sugar and beat vigorously, until they become pale yellow and creamy. Incorporate the flour a little at the time.
Add the warm milk, heavy cream, and vanilla stirring continuously.
Place on low heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Remove from the stove when the cream starts boiling and becoming thicker. Remove lemon peel, transfer the custard in a bowl and cool at room temperature.
Assembling the cake:
Preheat oven 375 F (190 C). Butter the pan, and sprinkle with a small amount of flour. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Reduce the dough to ¼” (1/2 cm) thick disk with the help of a rolling pin. Cover bottom and sides of the pan with the dough.
Pierce the dough with the fork.
Fill with the custard, and level with a spatula.
Spread the pine nuts on the surface of the custard.
Bake for about 50 minutes. Cool at room temperature, un-mould and serve cold, sprinkled with powdered sugar.