Friday, December 24, 2010

recipe: linzertorte

Some facts about the linzertorte: 1) It is basically an almondy cookie cake. 2) It is filled with raspberry jam. 3) It is spiced to taste like Christmas. 4) The amount of effort it takes to make < the amount of impressed your friends & family will be.

By "facts" I might've meant "reasons why linzertortes are a holiday tradition in my family". Here is one additional reason:


I never feel like it's really the holidays until I've made one of these. It's the perfect thing to take to parties, and can safely be made a day or two ahead (fact 5: it's tastier after a day or so) and/or in steps, as your schedule allows.

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking, Not Derby Pie, and The Joy of Baking.
Serves ~12 (it's very rich, so small wedges will do)


1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour (If you like/have white-whole-wheat, 1/2 c. of that plus 3/4 c. all purpose also works)
1 c. almond flour (or fine-ground blanched [skinless] almonds)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon or orange zest (1 lemon or ≥1/2 orange worth)

2/3 c. white granulated sugar
3/4 c. (1.5 sticks) butter
2 egg yolks

1 1/4 c. (~1 jar, ~10 oz.) tasty raspberry preserves
2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon or orange juice


Add your dry ingredients into a medium bowl (you can zest the citrus straight into the bowl to capture all the good zesty oils) and whisk to combine.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar for ~3 minutes, until they've lightened in color and texture. Beat in the egg yolks for ~1 minute until well incorporated. Stir in the dry ingredients, 1/3rd-ish at a time, until well combined.

Divide the mixture into 2 parts, one a bit larger than the other -- about 60%/40%. Ball & smush one part in your hands until it's happy (read: non-crumbly) enough to stay in ball form, then flatten it slightly into more of a disc. Do the same for the other! Wrap each disc separately in plastic/foil/a sandwich bag and pop them both in the fridge. They need to chill for 30 minutes at the very least, and preferably at least an hour. They will not be harmed by hanging out in there for a whole day, in fact, if you find that you've got Other Things To Do.

When the dough is chilled and you're ready to bake, butter & flour a 9-inch springform. (A cake or tart pan would also work, provided it's at least 2 inches deep.) Prepare to roll your dough out: sprinkle some flour on a large surface (I like sticking a piece of wax or parchment paper to the counter with a few drops of water and rolling on that for ease of turning the dough and moving it into the pan, but your mileage may vary if you can't get the paper to stick), get some flour on your clothes/face/hair, rub your rolling pin down with some flour, panic.

Next, stop panicking. This is not pie crust, this is cookie crust. It's really forgiving. Take out the larger piece of dough and roll it out into a big, evenly thick, mostly circular shape that's ~1-2 inches larger in diameter than your pan. A few cracks around the edges are okay -- just pinch them back together. Drape the dough down into the pan as centeredly as possible and press the bottom down and the sides up. The sides need to be 1/2 to 1 inch high -- just high enough to hold your jam. You can smoosh the dough around, breaking chunks off where there's too much and adding them where it's sparse -- like I said, not a pie crust.

This is a good time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Measure out your jam into a small bowl and mix in your citrus juice, then pour/spread the mixture evenly into the crust.

Take the second half of the crust out of the fridge and roll it out into an oval that's about as wide as your pan the short way across -- it'll be a bit thinner than the bottom crust was. With a large, flour-dusted knife, slice it width-wise into strips 1/2 inch wide.

Now, if you're very motivated you could lattice the strips properly across the top of the jam-filled crust, but what I do is just lay one set of strips down across the top, 1/2 inch apart and parallel to each other, and then lay a second set down perpendicular to and right across the top of the first set. It'll still look plenty pretty. If you do it my way, I think it's helpful to start in the middle with the longest pieces and move towards the edges with shorter pieces.

Either way, you're going to want to press the ends of each strip down into the edge of the crust. Trim off any extra lengths and smoosh them down into any gaps between the strips, and use any leftover dough to further even out the rim of the crust. I like rolling the excess dough into snakes and using strips & bits of those to fill in the gaps.

I brushed an egg wash onto the linzertorte pictured (beat 1 egg with a fork and then use a pastry brush to spread a thin layer over the crust), but it's not necessary. Iiii actually think it's prettier without it.

Pop the torte in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until it smells lovely and the crust is golden brown and pulling away from the edges on the pan. It'll be crumbly & sorta dry when it's warm and will get better the longer you let it sit, so try to let it cool completely before serving -- it might take a couple hours. You can decorate it with a bit of powdered sugar (put a tablespoon or two in a fine mesh sieve and tap the edge while holding it over the torte to sprinkle it on) if you like. The torte will be even nicer the next day, once the jam has had a chance to seep into the crust a little and all the flavors have really melded, so I recommend baking it a day ahead if you have time, or saving a slice for breakfast if you don't. Just seal it up in airtight containers and finish it within a week or so if there happens to be any leftover.

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