High Altitude Baking: Linzertorte, a tart-shaped pastry with nut dough (recipe)
January 22, 2014
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., the 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 a tart pan with a removable bottom.)
¾ cup seedless raspberry jam
½ teaspoon lemon juice, optional
2 teaspoons raspberry liqueur, optional
½ cup superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker's
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
7 ½ ounces hazelnut meal or 1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted and, if using mixer, ground fine
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped if using food processor; finely ground if using mixer
3 large egg yolks
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold if using food processor; softened if using mixer
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cream or milk
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the middle position. 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.
Step 2: To make in a food processor: Put the sugar, cinnamon, lemon zest, salt, flour, hazelnut meal or hazelnuts and chocolate in the bowl of a food processor with a 6-cup or more capacity, and pulse until the chocolate and nuts (if using them) are finely ground. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and pulse to combine. Cut the butter into 24 pieces, add them to the bowl, and process just until dough 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 low speed, only until the dough is combined. Add the ground chocolate and the ground hazelnuts, and mix just until they are evenly distributed through the dough.
Step 3: Dump the dough out onto 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 one-eighth 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.
Step 4: Spread the cooled jam over the tart shell to a quarter of an inch from its sides; it should be about one-eighth to one-fourth of an inch thick. (You won't use all of the jam unless you're making the 11-inch tart.)
Step 5: Remove the rolled dough from the freezer and, using a pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut it into half-inch-wide strips. If the dough cracks as you cut it, it's too cold; let it warm up just a bit. Carefully arrange the strips (I transfer them with a long, thin offset metal spatula, the kind used to ice a cake) in a lattice over the jam, cutting the ends to fit. Use the remaining strips to make a rim over the ends of the lattice, gently pressing it into the edge of the shell.
Step 6: Whisk the glaze ingredients in a small bowl, and lightly brush it over the lattice and shell edges, taking care not to get any on the jam. You won't use it all.
Step 7: 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. Remove it to a cooling 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, where she bakes almost daily. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, when necessary, altered so they work at our altitude. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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