Grandma’s Custard Pie

Torta della Nonna


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

How to Cook Italian

How to Cook Italian

By Giuliano Hazan

Published 2005

  • About

This deliciously sweet and comforting pie is a favorite in many homes and restaurants throughout northern Italy. The recipe below was given to me by my good friends the talented Simili sisters, award-winning bakers and cookbook authors from Bologna.

Preparation time: 45 minutes
Total time from start to finish: hours


For the Pastry Crust

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling the crust
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Pinch salt

For the Filling

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup pine nuts


  1. Cut the butter into 12 pieces and put it in a food processor with the 2 cups flour, sugar, egg, egg yolk, and salt. Run the machine until the dough comes together and is homogeneous. Remove the dough and place it on a counter. Briefly knead it with your hands to form a smooth ball. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F on the regular bake setting.
  3. Cut the dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap the smaller piece with plastic and set it aside. Remove the bottom of a 9½-inch tart pan and put it in the center of your work counter. Sprinkle a little flour on the counter around the edge of the pan and place the larger piece of dough in the middle of the pan bottom. Flatten the dough a bit with your hands, then use a rolling pin to roll it out inch thick. Loosen the edges that extend past the pan bottom with a pastry scraper, then use the scraper to lift the pan bottom and the dough. Carefully lower into the ring of the tart pan. Patch any tears or holes, making sure the dough comes all the way up the sides. Cut off any excess dough at the top. Put the pan on a baking sheet and bake until very lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  4. While the pastry crust is baking, make the filling. Put the milk and heavy cream in a saucepan and place over medium heat. When the mixture releases steam when stirred, but before it comes to a boil, remove the pan from the heat.
  5. While the milk and cream are heating, put the flour, sugar, 2 of the eggs, the egg yolk, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Cut the butter into 4 pieces and add to the bowl. Whisk on medium speed until the mixture is smooth, pale, and forms ribbons, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the milk and cream to a pitcher. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the hot milk and cream. Once all the milk and cream have been added, pour the mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the custard thickens, about 10 minutes.
  6. Pour the custard into the baked pastry crust. Unwrap the remaining dough and roll it out inch thick on a counter sprinkled with flour. Roll the dough onto the rolling pin and unroll over the custard filling. Pinch the edges together, cutting off any excess dough. Lightly beat the remaining egg and brush it over the top of the pie. Sprinkle the pine nuts on top. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. Serve chilled.


The pie will keep in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.