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Torta della nonna - in English grandma's custard pie - is a very popular Itailan pie made with a soft shortcrust pastry shell and a sweet custard filling and topped with crunchy pinenuts. Here we make a vegan torta della nonna, without milk, without butter, and without eggs. Don't worry, our recipe is still 100% Italian and every bite as delicious as the original one.
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Torta della nonna - Grandma's Custard Pie
- Rolling pin
- Pie dish 28 cm / 11 inches
For the custard
- 750 g (3.1 cups) plant milk
- 75 g (2.6 oz) corn starch
- 100 g (3.5 oz) sugar
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ lemon peel
- vanilla extract
For the cake
- 150 g (5.3 oz) plant milk (plus 2 tbsp extra to brush over the cake)
- 150 g (5.3 oz) sugar
- 120 g (4.2 oz) sunflower seed oil
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 500 g (4 cups) flour
- 40 g (1.4 oz) corn starch
- 8 g (1.5 tsp) baking powder
For the topping
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar
- 40 g (1.4 oz) pinenuts
For the custard
- In a pot, off the heat, add all the ingredients for the custard and whisk together until they are all well mixed.
- On low heat, bring the custard to a gentle simmer while you keep whisking for the whole time.
- Cook on low heat until the custard thickens. Never stop stirring.
- Take off the heat, pour into a bowl, and let cool down at room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent lumps.
For the cake
- In a bowl, add milk, sugar, oil, salt, and apple cider vinegar. Mix well together with a whisk.
- Then add flour, salt, baking powder and corn starch all at once and mix with a spatula till it turns into a dough.
- Transfer the dough onto a work surface and knead with your hands for about 1 minute. The dough should be smooth and the ingredients well incorporated, but don't overknead. Then let the dough ball rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven at 180C / 360F. Prepare a pie dish, grease it with oil, then sprinkle it with flour. Set aside.Take ¾ of the dough ball, put it in between 2 sheets of baking paper, then flatten it down into a disc 0.4 cm / 0.2 inches thick.
- Now remove the top sheet of baking paper, and flip the dough disc into the pie dish. Remove the baking paper. Then with your fingers, apply gentle pressure to the dough to fit it into the pie dish.
- Trim the dough around the edges of the pie dish. Then with a fork, make some holes on the base of the dough and also on the sides.
- Fill up the pie dish with the custard and spread it evenly.
- Now we make the top of the cake. Take the trimmings of the dough and put it together with the leftover ¼ dough ball. Then, like before, flatten it in between two baking paper sheets. Make a disc like before. 0.4 cm / 0.2 inches thick.
- Remove one side of baking baking paper, then use the disc to cover the pie dish. Trim the edges, then with your fingers, push the edges down into the pie dish, so that the top disc sticks together with the bottom disc, closing off the custard into a shell.
- Brush the top of the pie with plant milk. Then sprinkle with the pinenuts on top. With a fork make some holes into the top dough disc. Then cook in the oven for 45 minutes at 180C/360F.
- Take out of the oven, let cool down, then sprinkle with powdered sugar to make the top completely white. Now enjoy this delicious torta della nonna.
- Use only the yellow part of the lemon. Avoid adding the white spongy part to the custard because it's bitter.
- Replace eggs with apple cider vinegar and corn starch. The vinegar will make the dough lighter, and the cornstarch will help the dough stick together.
- Cook the dough on a baking rack. In the oven, put your pie on a baking rack rather than on a baking tray because the baking tray might become too hot and the bottom of the pie will overcook.
- Let cool down completely before serving as the custard needs to cool down or else it will not hold the shape.
This Torta della Nonna is best kept in the fridge for up to two days and in the freezer for up to two months.
You can also prepare the dough for the cake in advance, freeze it for up to three months, and defrost when you need it.
If you like this torta della nonna you might also like these 3 variations that can be made with the same dough:
- The first one is a vegan torta della nonna without the top layer. We actually really like this version too as it has less dough and a higher custard to dough ratio (and we love custard). Make it like described above, just with half the dough measurements because you don't need the top dough layer. Same custard, same cooking time.
2. Vegan Fruit Tart with custard: This beautiful and delicious fruit tart with lemon custard is a classic Italian pastry recipe that everyone loves. The result is a vegan fruit tart with vegan custard that is egg-free, dairy-free, made with wholegrain flour and plenty of fresh seasonal fruit.
3. Vegan Strawberry Pie "Crostata": This strawberry pie, aka classic Italian crostata, is impossible to resist. It's beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. Our homemade strawberry jam gives it a bright red colour and a delicious strawberry flavour. It's easy to make, fragrant, sweet, aromatic and fruity.
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Will you be baking this cake at home?
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