Monday, August 6, 2012

Linzer Torte

Linzer Torte
Home Cooking

Sometimes, I find myself with the strangest cravings. A couple of weeks ago, I never even heard of linzer torte. I stumbled across the name in one of my million (mostly untouched) baking recipe books but didn't pay much attention. Little did I know, the seed had been sown and for every day after that, I found myself wanting, needing and obsessing over the linzer torte.

First, I had to Google exactly what it was. The linzer torte is an Austrian dessert, originating (unsurprisingly) from the town of Linz.  It involves a pastry crust made from ground nuts (almond and hazelnut is commonly used but variations exist) and the filling is typically some kind of jam. The top of the tart is traditionally decorated with a lattice of woven pastry. I think it was the jam component that caught my eye in the first instance. I had so much left over raspberry jam from my melting moments that I was scanning for ways to use it up. Once I read about the nutty shortcrust pastry, there was no turning back. I love nuts in dessert and the idea of it ground up into crumbling pastry crust seemed irresistable.

I used this recipe from Joy of Baking. I followed the recipe exactly, but used my own raspberry jam instead of making a new batch. I will be making some more though in the following weeks so when I do that, I'll post photos of that process in more detail.

Linzer Torte
Makes 8 servings (1 full 23cm tart)

  • 1 and 1/2 cup of raspberry preserve (recipe to come; can be substituted with any other jam)
  • 1 cup (150g) whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup (60g) whole hazelnuts
  • 1 and 1/2 cup (195g) plain flour
  • 2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves (optional; I used all-spice)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 195g cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • icing sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Position the rack in the centre of the oven.
2. Place the almonds on a baking sheet and bake about 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant.
3. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, or until fragrant and the outer skin begins to flake off. Remove from the oven and cool off. The original recipe didn't specify whether the hazelnut skin should be removed but I rubbed it off all the same.
4. Once the nuts are cooled, place in a food processor and process, along with 1/2 cup (65g) of flour until finely ground.
5. Add the remaining flour, sugar, lemon zest, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, salt and baking powder and process until evenly combined.
6. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture ressembles fine crumbs.
7. Add the egg yolks and vanilla exract and pulse until the dough just begins to come together.
8. Gather the dough into a ball and gently divide into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap the smaller ball with cling wrap and place in the fridge for about 1hr or when it feels firm enough to roll.
9. Take the larger ball of dough and press it onto the bottom and up the sides of a buttered 23-25cm tart pan or springform pan (mine was a tart pan with removable bottom).
10. Spread the raspberry preserve over the bottom of the crust. Cover with cling wrap and place in the refrigerator.
11. When the smaller ball of dough is firm enough, remove from the fridge and roll between 2 sheets of baking paper until it forms a circle about 30cm in diameter. Use a pizza wheel to cut strips about 1 inch (2.5cm) thick. Cover the pastry strips with cling wrap and refrigerate for another 10min or so to firm them up and make them more workable.
12. Remove the tart from the fridge and transfer pastry strips over the top with a spatula, keeping them evenly spaced. After completing one direction, layer strips on in the perpendicular direction (if you want to get fancy, you can weave them). I'll be honest here and say that I got impatient and didn't cool the ball enough and also didn't cool the strips after cutting. My strips were nearly impossible to work with so I didn't even THINK about weaving. I was just relieved to get them all on there.
13. Trip the strips to fit the edges of the tart. Using any left over pieces, roll into a long sausage and press into the sides of the tart, where the strips meet the sides.
14. Bake the tart in a preheated (180 degrees Celcius) oven for about 30-35 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and set. Around that time, the top of my tart was set but the bottom was still a shade under so I transferred my tart to the bottom rack of the oven and left it for another 10-15 minutes.
15. Cool on a wire rack before unmoulding. It is recommended that the tart is covered and stored overnight before serving.
16. The recipe recommends the tart to be warmed with a dusting of icing sugar and cream. It will keep for a few days at room temperature, for about a week in the fridge or can even be frozen.

I had a slice before it even cooled down. The nutty tart shell is delicious. The hazelnut flavor really comes through and the ground nuts add an interesting texture.

Although the crust goes perfectly with jam, I wouldn't recommend putting too much jam in the tart. A thinnish layer is sufficient. Otherwise, the whole thing is just too sweet. Cream really helps to offset this.

I tried another slice the next day, just cold. I agree that the flavors seem to intensify the next day and it tasted even better.

Drizzled with cream

This isn't something that I would normally bake but I'm really glad I did. I know my pastry lattice is far from perfect but it was satisfying to construct anyway and I'm generally pleased with the appearance.

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