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Friday, March 4, 2011

Orange jam&liquor Linzer torte (Austrian/German and Hungarian)

The German-Hungarian Linzer torte is a very old cake recipe commonly made in Austria and Hungary. The oldest written recipe for it (at least the oldest one found yet) dates back to 1653 and was written by the Benedictine monks in Admont Abbey (Austria). Just like in the case of the lovely Lebkuchen, monks were the ones who (most probably) invented and preserved the secret of making them. The abbey's library is still to this day the largest monastic library in the world and it couldn't be completely explored yet, which explains why the recipe for the Linzer torte was found only recently. Until the discovery, a recipe dating from 1696 from Vienna was the oldest so far.
As you can see, this lovely nut-pastry tart filled with tangy jams (traditionally red fruit jams, but we felt like orange) has a lot of history. I love foods seeping with history, not that I'd mind modernist cuisine achievements, but the old foods seem more... legendary. With a story to tell. And their age doesn't seem to take away their appeal to the modern palates so... they're still as delicious as they can get. With centuries of recipe-perfecting behind. A firm thumbs up.
What changes we've made: well, we already mentioned we used orange jam, when blackcurrant or other red fruit jam would have been more appropriate to tradition. Also, we've added orange liquor. Yes, booze :D. I've recently read studies that proved that a little hint of alcohol, even if it gets baked or cooked out completely, leaves behind some healthy substances that, in addition to being healthy and to carry all the flavor the booze had in the bottle, stimulates our palates making them more receptive to all taste. Thus, the booze and food combination we always loved has just become perfectly justified :).
The torte looks quite rustic because we lacked the patience to roll the dough and cut the strips for the top lattice so we just made some tubular strips of dough with our hands. Lazy, I know. But still delicious nonetheless.

Other than that, the pastry has all the traditional goodness you can get. And yes, enough talking, here's the recipe. Enjoy :)

Ingredients (makes one 26 cm round torte):
  • 450 g orange jam (our had peels included, which sprung up the flavor)
  • 5 ml orange liquor (a few drops to soak up the jam)
  • 80 g hazelnuts
  • 180 g almonds
  • 220 g flour
  • 150 g sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 egg yolks (if you don't know what to do with the remaining egg whites, try my recipe for Romanian walnut biscuits, called Pricomigdale)
  • 200 g butter (plus a little more for greasing the tart tin)
  • small pinch of salt
  • 20-30 g candied lemon peel (optionally, for decorating)

Put the almonds and hazelnuts in a food processor. You may roast them first if you want to, but they'll get roasted in the baking anyway.

Add 80 g flour and mix again.

Add the rest of the flour, sugar, salt and spices:

Mix, then add the lemon zest.

Get the butter. If you're using a 250 g pack (like us), cut it approximately like this:

Cut up the larger side into small pieces and mix them through the dough. You can use a little bit of the small piece for greasing the tart tin. After you incorporated the butter and the dough looks like crumbs, add the egg yolks:

Mix again to have the final version of dough:

Grease the tart tin (our was 26 cm wide):

Get handfuls of the dough and press them into the cake tin until all of it is covered with a tart shell, like this:

This will probably have used up 2/3 of the dough. It's best if you can keep the tart shell and the remaining dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes until you proceed. Next, fill up the tart with the orange jam:

Sprinkle the orange liquor on top:

Now for the lattice part. You can either be patient and roll the dough, then cut 2 cm strips out of it and transfer them on top of the tart, kneading them, or do what we did and just form some tubular strips of dough in your hands and put them on top:

Proceed until you've covered it all (and used up all the dough):

We also decorated with candied lemon peel (the little green bits on top), but you don't have to do that. Next, put in the preheated oven at 180 degrees C and bake for 30-35 minutes. Take out and let it completely cool before cutting. Dig in! :)

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