Friday, March 7, 2014

Swiss Woods rendition of the famous Linzer Torte

From a small city that lies along the beautiful Danube River in Austria comes the Linzer Torte. Having spent a summer on the outskirts of this beautiful city, I can tell you the bakeries are downright amazing and every one has a slightly different variation of their namesake torte.  I checked out the Linz city website and found the interesting history of this incredible cake. Who knew!

The "Linzer Torte" is considered the oldest known cake in the world. It was already mentioned by name as early as 1653. Yet who named or invented the cake will always remain a mystery. The oldest recipe is from a cookbook that is over 350 years old: "Book of All Kinds of Home-Made Things, Such as Sweet Dishes, Spices, Cakes and also Every Kind of Fruit and Other Good and Useful Things, etc."

Even at this early date, the cookbook already included four different recipes for the Linzer Torte / Linzer Pastry. This is yet more proof for how generally popular and widely known the cake was already in the Baroque period!

These old recipes mostly differ from more recent ones in that the dough was always prepared with clarified butter with a stick of butter kneaded into it. In addition, the cake was prepared as a "bowl cake", meaning that it was baked in a (silver) bowl – similar to pies today – with a fruit filling and strips of dough on top. Spices are only called for once and this in the form of a "well seasoned grid of dough". Almonds were included in every recipe. 

This torte is relatively easy to make, has a great shelf life of a few days( it even tastes better if it has been stored for 2 days to let the flavors meld.) and has ingredients that are not difficult to find. I use a scant amount of grated dark chocolate to round out and deepen the already rich flavors. Not as sweet as American cakes, this torte is filled with robust flavor.  Guests who are lucky enough to find it on our sideboard just rave.


 Linzer Torte

1 cup butter (2 sticks) room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten (save about 1 Tbsp to brush the top)
8 oz almond flour or almond meal (basically grated or ground almonds)
¼ cup grated dark chocolate
1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
Pinch of cloves
Pinch of ginger
Pinch of salt
1 1/3 cups flour
                                                         2/3 cup red raspberry jam or red currant jam

                                                         3 Tbsp of flour reserved to mix into the last ¼ of dough

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375F
In a mixing bowl cream the butter with the sugar
Add the beaten egg a bit at a time mixing till fluffy. Reserve 1-T Tbsp of the egg to brush the top at the end
Add the ground nuts* spices, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, lemon and lemon juice.
Mix till combined
Spread ¾ of the batter on the bottom of a buttered and floured 9 inch spring form pan.
Stir the jam to loosen it up and then spread gently on top of the batter to within ½ inch of the edge
Add the 2 Tbsp of flour to the remaining ¼ batter. This needs to make a soft dough that you can roll. Roll to ½ inch think.
Using a knife, gently cut strips of dough. I use a ruler to help as a guide
Weave a basket weave pattern crisscrossing the jam. Do not worry if it is not perfect. It will bake together and look just fine!
Brush the top with the remaining whisked eggs.
Bake 40-50 min. Check at 35 min. The cake will be done when a toothpick comes out clean and pulls away from the sides.
Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Run a knife around the edge and pull the rim of the spring form  off. Allow to completely cool and then remove the bottom plate. 
*I roast half of my nuts before grinding to give it a deeper flavor. I have also successfully used half ground almonds and half ground hazelnuts.
*If you prefer you can line the bottom of the spring form with a round of parchment paper. 



 Swiss Woods Bed and Breakfast
Debbie Mosimann
The Lititz Broad
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