• Torta della Nonna? Torta di Nonno really...

    It was the search for a great coffee and a conversation that has brought me to write this piece for you today.

    Torta della Nonna or Grandma's cake for the anglosaxon speaking lot of you is a traditional Italian cake, steeped in the folklore knowledge that it was produced by some white hair fox and passed on generation to generation to would be grandma's. But what are it's actual origins and could your grandma Shirley (well that is a grandma only name!) make one?

    HistoryAs far as historical data can find the cake, it dates back to the 1700's where eggs would be combined with bakers butter (a sweet kind of butter cream) and thus different varieties of layered based cakes would be invented and then passed on to different Pasticceria's (Pas-tea-ch-re-ah's = cake shops) as a baking style, rather than cake itself.

    It was around the 1900's that the baking style was so popular across Italy that different pasticceria's were trying to differentiate themselves from the rest, after all, how many victoria sponges could YOU handle?!

    And a chef...not a grandma...a chef called Guido Samorini was challenged by locals in his Florentine home of Firenze, in the San Lorenzo district to produce something different because of the lack of choice. (Come on, how many of you would have just added jam?)

    And so, Torta Della Nonna was born.

    What is it?

    Made with a sweet pastry base, and filled with the special bakers butter filling, Torta della Nonna is then covered with pine nuts and cooked in the oven until the filling has cooked through and goes "a soft golden brown" colour. There are many versions (who would have guessed?) including the class war version where the upper echelons would put loads of pine nuts on top of the cake, the lower class would place only a "small, insignificant amount" (you have to love old cook books quotes) within the bakers butter itself.

    Here is a recipe you can follow if you ever fancy doing it.

    Torta di Nonno, really!

    So there you have it, it was a cake born out of the necessity of having something different, and not one crafted by accident in some back street bakery, nor by a grandma, but by a man... for a bet! So maybe, and this is just a suggestion, it should be called Torta di Nonno in honour of Mr Samorini, or Nonno Samorini to us loyal tasters of his cake. 

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