Linzer everything! Mainly tortes and cookies. Mostly torte. The torte makes the most Linzer. And during the season of giving, it’s best to give lots of Linzer.
I’d never heard of Linzer tortes or cookies ‘till a few years ago, but for some people these are a traditional winter holiday dessert. It’s named after Linz, Austria. The dough is mixed with toasted and finely ground nuts, the filling is sweet jam. Traditionally it’s a round torte made with hazelnuts and red currant jam. I got stuck on the Smitten Kitchen version (obviously) using walnuts and raspberry jam. It’s a rich and warm combination. So that is what we’re going to stick with here. No joking, i do prefer the torte to cookies, there is a better consistency to the dough, a better ratio of jam and honestly it is less a pain in the butt than layering cookies.
Do share this dessert with caution, people may get addicted and start to request this from you multiple times. It really happens.
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen
4 ½ cups walnuts – about 1 lb (or hazelnut or almond) to be run through a food processor
3 cups flour (divided into ½ c and 2 ½ c)
2 tspn ground cinnamon
½ tspn ground cloves
½ tspn salt
2 ½ sticks (10oz) butter, cold, unsalted, cut into cubes
1 ⅔ cup sugar
1 egg + 1 yolk
zest from 1 lemon
optional – ¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
2 cups raspberry jam (seedless if you care, or any flavor you want to try)
1 egg yolk
1 tspn water
optional – 1 cup slivered almonds
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter 9×13-inch cake pan, then line bottom with parchment paper and butter the paper.
Using a food processor, grind the walnuts and ½ cup flour until mixture is fine and blend but not forming a paste. You do not want to make walnut butter. A few recognizably nutty pieces are nice.
In a large bowl combine 2 ½ cup flour, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Use your hands or a pastry blender, add the butter, working to get to a coarse crumbly mixture. Next, stir in the sugar and walnut / flour mix. In a small bowl beat whole egg, yolk and lemon zest before adding into the large bowl. Mix and knead the dough with a spoon and then your hands until it can hold together. For one 9×13 pan, divide the dough into half. For 2 smaller pans, divide dough into quarters.
However you divide it, press one portion into the bottom of your pan. Press it pretty evenly and firmly along the bottom and up a little bit along the sides. Bake for 15 minutes until it just starts to take on color around the edges.
In the meantime, roll out your other portion of dough to ¼ – ½ inch thick. If you want really clean edges and easy transfer / cutting. Roll this out between two pieces of parchment paper then put in the freezer for about 20 minutes. If you just can’t be bothered today, then wait until after you take the shell out of the oven, flour your surface and rolling pin really well, this does get sticky, the roll out the dough.
Take the shell out of the oven and let cool a bit. Reduce oven temp to 350 degrees.
The filing. If you’re using breadcrumbs be sure they are finely ground, you can use the food processor to break it up more if needed. Then sprinkle evenly over the shell. Next, stir jam to get it loose and spread jam evenly over top of shell and breadcrumbs.
For the top crust, take your dough out of the freezer or roll it out now if you haven’t already. You’re going to cut this into ½ – ¾ inch wide strips. If you used the parchment paper method you can cut right through both layers and peel off the paper as you transfer them. If you plan ahead here you can weave your strips or you can be lazy but effective by layering them. Lay your strips at a 45 degree angle starting from one corner, working to the next, leaving a ½ – ¾ inch gap in between, then repeat starting from the next corner making square / diamond shape openings. Strip too long, cut it to the size you need and press it into the edges slightly where you can. Strip too short, use two. Lay them end to end and mush them together slightly at the joint. Keep your angle and spacing consistent.
Finish by mixing egg yolk and water. Brush over the lattice top. If you want, sprinkle with almond slivers for added topping. Bake for 45 – 60 minutes. You’re looking for a well browned crust.
Remove and place on rack. Let cool, it’s much easier to cut and eat, no one wants hot jam burning the roof of their mouth. Slice around the edges to loosen any jam that may have seeped over the shell edge and through the lattice. Then cut into prefered square size. The first square or two might break up, but the rest should be pretty easy to get out clean.