Friday, 19 September 2014

Linzertorte

In my previous post, I gave my recipe for Fig & Hazelnut Cake, a cake which was made using ground hazelnuts which I had roasted, skinned and ground myself. Well, after making that cake which turned out to be far more delicious than I possibly thought, I actually had quite a lot of ground hazelnuts left over. I initially toyed with the idea of making one of my favourite desserts – a Raspberry & Hazelnut Meringue Cake but in the spirit of adventure that had overtaken me, I decided that I would do a little research and see what else I could bake using a hazelnut/raspberry combination.

The internet is a great thing… at the press of a button you can search for something and a whole raft of information will be offered up to you on whatever topic you wish to know more about. It’s hardly surprising that most of my internet activity is centred on researching new recipes and cookery techniques. When I carried out a search on hazelnut and raspberry combined together, there was one dish that kept cropping up, time and time again… Linzertorte!

There are a lot of things that are described as being a Linzertorte; simple raspberry jam tarts or raspberry jam filled biscuits are regularly referred to as Linzertorte… but they are not! Well, not in the traditional sense, because a true Austrian Linzertorte consists of a nut-based (usually hazelnut) pastry topped with a redcurrant, raspberry or plum jam which is then decorated with an open latticework of more of the pastry. Spices such as cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg are also usually included in the nut pastry and when the tart is baking the smells that emanate are incredibly evocative of Christmas. In fact, Linzertortes are very much associated with the festive season, but no-one said that they could only be baked at Christmas and given that I was awash with ground hazelnuts I decided that I would try making one.

The first couple of recipes that I tried were very highly spiced and to be honest, I found the amount of ground cloves very overpowering, even though it is one of my favourite spices. I’ve tweaked the recipe a little in terms of the spicing but also the ratio of flour to nuts in the pastry. I am delighted with the result and given the positive reaction of everyone who tried it, I can see this becoming one of those recipes that I am requested to make time and time again!

The uncooked dough is on the soft side, but this is the way that it is meant to be. Rather than try and roll out thin strips of the dough with which to create the lattice work, I found it much easier to put the mixture into a disposable piping bag fitted with a 1cm nozzle and pipe it instead!

The Linzertorte is served cut into wedges and although it does have a slightly cake or tart-like look to it, I would actually liken it more to a biscuit.

Ingredients:

140g caster sugar
140g butter, softened
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
3 egg yolks
140g plain flour
100g ground hazelnuts
40g ground almonds
¼ tsp ground cloves
1tsp of ground cinnamon
4 tblsp quality raspberry jam
To finish:
A little icing sugar for dusting
 

Method:

1. Grease and base-line a 20cm round springform tin with non-stick baking parchment. Set aside.
2. Place the caster sugar and butter into a large mixing bowl and using a hand-held electric mixer, beat together until light and fluffy. Add the grated lemon zest and egg yolks and mix again until fully incorporated.
3. Sift the flour and spices together and mix into the dough using a wooden spoon followed by the ground nuts.
4. Line the tin with two thirds of the dough, pressing it out evenly to the edges with the back of a metal spoon. Place the rest of the dough into a disposable piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle. Pipe a long strip around the outer edge of the dough to create a lip or edge to the tart. Spread the raspberry jam evenly in the centre of the tart bringing it out to the edges of the ‘lip’ that you have just created. Pipe the remaining dough in strips to create an open lattice design on top of the tart (See accompanying photos). Place in the fridge to chill a bit while you preheat the oven.
5. Preheat oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/Gas Mark 4.
6. Bake the Linzertorte in the oven for 30-35 minutes until nicely browned and the jam is beginning to bubble a little. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature in the tin before removing to a serving plate and dusting with a little icing sugar.
 
Serves 8-10.