Linzertorte originated in or around Austria, with variations spiraling out through the German-speaking world. This version, with raspberry jam, is often served over the holiday season in the Alsace region of eastern France. But linzertorte, with its sweet, nutty pastry, is good year round, and if you prefer you can fill it with black currant, red currant or plum jam, more commonly used in Austria and Germany.
It’s fun to make a linzertorte, with its lattice topping, but beware — the aroma emanating from your kitchen will have your household clamoring for a taste before the cake even comes out of the oven. For best results, grind the nuts yourself. You may use walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds or a combination. This recipe will fill a tart pan with vertical sides, 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter. Have the butter at room temperature when you begin.
1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter
1 cup (200 g) sugar
2 egg yolks
grated peel (zest) of one orange
1-1/2 cup (200 g) flour
1 tsp. baking powder (levure alsacienne)
2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves (optional)
1 cup ground walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds
1 cup raspberry jam
Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix with an electric beater until well blended. Add the egg yolks and orange peel and beat again.
Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves. Add to the butter mixture and beat until well blended.
Grind the nuts and add. Go in with your hands for the final blending to obtain a smooth dough. Form the dough into a ball and set aside for a few minutes, but do not chill.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (350 F, 180 C).
Cut the dough into two unequal parts — 2/3 and 1/3. Form a new ball from the 2/3 portion and pat it into your tart pan, starting from the middle and working out to the edges and up the rim. Spread the dough evenly, and fill in any holes. Refrigerate.
Use the other 1/3 of the dough to roll out ropes of varying length on a floured board: 2 long ropes (long enough to stretch across the diameter of your pan), 4 medium ropes and 4 small ropes. For each rope, pinch off some dough and roll it between your hands to create a log. Then, using your fingers, gently roll the log out on the board to create a rope. Add more flour to the board as needed.
Retrieve your tart pan from the fridge. Fill with the raspberry jam, using the back of a spoon to spread it evenly over the bottom.
Now form your lattice. Begin with the four small ropes, placing them over the jam near the edges at even intervals. Place the four medium ropes over the jam about 2 inches (5 cm) in from the small ropes. Place the long ropes across the diameter. Squeeze the ends of the ropes into the dough along the rim.
Place in the oven and bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Check often as the baking time will depend on your oven and, if left in too long, the edges may burn. If the linzertorte appears to be cooking too quickly, turn down the heat.
Allow the linzertorte to cool a bit before serving — or, if you make it in advance, warm it up before bringing it to the table. Serve as is or with crème fraîche on the side. Serves 6-8.
This recipe is adapted from ‘The Vegetarian Epicure’ by Anna Thomas.