For some time now, more or less since I started to cook with greater commitment and dedication, I get some bookings: a gianduja mille-feuille for a birthday, brownies for a dinner with friends, meliga pastries for an afternoon tea and a Grandma's cake for Mother's Day.
Well, Grandma's cake for Mother's Day makes its sense: after all, grandma is someone's mother, isn't she?
While I was looking here and there for a grandma's cake that inspired me, I suddenly remembered a similar cake I saw some time ago, with a very soft short pastry, that inspired me far more than those with a classic shortbread. Also, the recipe I remembered so clearly was Juls' recipe, a guarantee, and so I focused on her Tuscan pine nuts cake recipe, making just one change. The result is a delicate, very soft and not at all cloying cake, that charms with its soft short pastry and its silky custard.
A cake that tastes like home, like tradition, like Mum, and therefore perfect for this occasion. Best wishes to all Mums, including of course the "instigator" of this cake; those yellow gerberas you see in the pictures, her favourite, are for her.
TUSCAN PINE NUTS CAKE
(recipe from Juls' Kitchen)
Ingredients (for a 23 cm wide cake; I used a 20 cm mould, so I obtained a thicker cake.
For the short pastry
* 180 g unsalted butter at room temperature
* 150 g sugar
* 3 eggs
* 180 g all purpose flour
* 8 g baking powder
For the custard
* 3 egg yolks
* 4 tablespoons of sugar
* 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
* 500 ml whole milk
* 2 tablespoons of raisins, soaked in Vinsanto, Tuscan sweet wine (I didn't use it)
* grated peel of half a lemon (I didn't use raisins, so I use lemon flavour)
* a handful of shelled pine nuts
* powdered sugar
About an hour before making the cake, make the custard, 'cause it has to be cold when you'll add it to the cake. While you heat the milk in a saucepan, whisk the egg yolks with sugar and flour; when the milk starts to simmer, remove it from the heat and pour it on the eggs/sugar mixture, stirring continuously with a whisk. Put the mixture on a low flame and stir constantly until it thickens: remove it from the heat, add the raisins (previously squeezed)- if you want to- and let it cool.
Preheat the oven to 356° F (180° C).
Whip butter (at room temperature) with sugar for a few minutes until it becomes creamy and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, waiting for the first to be completely mixed before adding the second one and so on. Stir in the flour, sifted with baking powder (I used a wooden spoon to mix).
Grease and flour a 23 cm wide round baking tin (I used a 20 cm mould, so I obtained a thicker cake).
Separate the dough into two equal parts with the help of a spoon: put a spoonful of batter into the baking tin and one in a pastry bag, and so on, until you’ve finished. Level the batter into the baking tin, spread the cold custard over it, then add the remaining batter in concentric circles, trying not to mix it with the custard. Sprinkle the pine nuts on top and bake for 40 minutes.
When golden brown, remove it from the oven and let it cool down. Then gently remove it from the mould and, when completely cold, dust the cake with powdered sugar.