High Country Baking column: European Linzertorte
Editor’s note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.
As well-known in Austria and Switzerland as apple pie is in the U.S., linzertorte is not often encountered on our side of the Atlantic. It’s a tart-shaped pastry featuring a spicy, sandy-textured nut dough encircling a thin filling of raspberry jam — a simple yet sophisticated pastry.
European cookbooks yield a wide assortment of recipes for this classic. This one features a cinnamon-hazelnut dough that contains just a bit of chocolate … not enough to make a strong statement but sufficient to add more complexity to the overall taste.
Makes one 11-inch tart or two 7-inch tarts
Make in pan with removable bottom
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, optional
2 teaspoons raspberry liqueur, optional
1/2 cup superfine granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
7 1/2 ounces hazelnut meal or 1 ½ cups toasted hazelnuts, if using mixer, ground fine
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped if using a food processor, finely ground if using a mixer
3 large egg yolks
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold if using a food processor; softened if using a mixer
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cream or milk
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the middle. Bring the jam to a low boil in a small saucepan and simmer, stirring for about 3 to 4 minutes, until smooth and slightly thickened. Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice and liqueur (if using) and stir to combine. Set aside to cool.
To make in a food processor: Put the sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest, salt, flour, hazelnut meal or hazelnuts and chocolate in a food processor with a 6 cup or more capacity and pulse until the chocolate and nuts, are finely ground. Add the egg yolks one at a time and pulse to combine. Cut the butter into 24 pieces, add to the bowl and process just until a dough ball forms.
To make with a mixer: Cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time add the cinnamon, lemon zest, and salt and beat until smooth. Add the flour and mix on a low speed only until the dough is combined. Add the ground chocolate and the ground hazelnuts and mix just until they are evenly distributed.
Dump the dough out on a counter and gather it into two discs, one slightly larger than the other. Place the smaller disc between two sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap and roll it into a round the size of your tart pan and about 1⁄8 of an inch thick (no thinner). Slide it onto a baking sheet and place it in the freezer. Press the remaining dough on the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan, leveling it to assure an even crust. Trim the top by sliding a bench knife or the dull side of a kitchen knife over the rim of the tart pan.
Spread the cooled jam over the tart shell to a quarter of an inch from its sides; It should be about 1/4 of an inch thick. (You won’t use all of the jam unless you’re making the 11-inch tart.)
Remove the rolled dough from the freezer and, using a pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut it into 1/2-inch-wide strips. If the dough cracks as you cut it, then it’s too cold. Carefully arrange the strips in a lattice over the jam (I transfer them with a long, thin spatula — the kind used to ice a cake). Cut the ends to fit. Use the remaining strip to make a rim over the ends of the lattice, gently pressing it into the edge of the shell.
Whisk the glaze in a small bowl and lightly brush it over the lattice and edges, taking care not to get any on the jam. You won’t use it all.
Put the tart pan on a cookie sheet, place it in the oven, and bake until the dough is colored and set and the jam is bubbling, about 25 to 30 minutes. Place it on a rack to cool completely before serving. Store it for a day or two, lightly covered, and chilled. Serve it at room temperature, either without accompaniment or with sweetened whipped cream.
This is a variation of a recipe from Gourmet.
Vera Dawson, a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute, lives in Summit County. Her recipes have been tested and altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at email@example.com.