Time to enjoy another leg of our culinary journey - this time visiting Austria.
Well, it's not so much about the country, but more about one of the oldest known tortes in culinary history - the Linzer Torte.
It is interesting to note the Linzer Torte is not only a favourite in Austria but also popular in Hungry, Switzerland, Germany and Italy, often served to visitors during the Christmas period. The recipe "Wie mann die Linzer Dortten macht" (how to make the Linzer Torte), written about 1653 and found in the archives of Admont Abbey, is perhaps the oldest cake recipe in the world.
There are (as always) several theories on who was responsible for making the torte internationally famous. Some say Johann Konrad Vogel was the first to mass produce the torte in the town of its name - Linz - around 1823. Austrian Franz Holzlhuber is credited with introducing the torte to Milwaukee in the 1850s, and from there the recipe spread through the United States.
Like many of the classics, variations have appeared in many parts of the world including "Linz Eyes" (a cookie-sized version) along with small individual tarts which are popular in North America. Likewise, raspberry jam has been replaced with blackcurrant or red currant jam and hazelnuts mixed with almonds to add both flavour and texture.
In simple terms, the Linzer Torte has two delicious layers of creamy, rich, buttery, nut-flavoured pastry sandwiched together with jam. It is easily recognised by the lattice form of the pastry on the top layer.
A favourite of mine is the style of Linzer Torte made by Kiwi chef/ baker Dean Brettschneider which uses the traditional pastry base but then has a melting moment mixture piped onto the top and baked. Reasonably easy to make and unbelievably delicious.
So this week let's enjoy a dish from the famed town of Linz.
For the raspberry jam
2 cups frozen raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
good squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/4 cup whole hazelnuts
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp pure vanilla
icing sugar for dusting
Spice melting moment topping
125g butter, softened
40g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
125g plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Method for the raspberry jam
Place the frozen raspberries and the sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat.
Reduce the heat and simmer stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes or until the liquid has almost evaporated, taking care not to allow it to burn.
Remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof measuring cup, adding two drops of lemon juice.
Cover and place in the refrigerator.
For the base of your Linzer Torte
Pre-heat your oven to 180'C and position a rack in the centre of the oven.
Place the almonds on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Now place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until the outer skins begin to flake and crack. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Once cooled, place the nuts in a processor along with cup of flour and process until they are finely ground.
Now add the remaining flour, sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder and salt and process until evenly combined.
Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
Now add the 2 egg yolks and vanilla extract and pulse until the dough just begins to come together.
Place on a lightly-floured board and bring the dough together so it forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for half an hour or until firm enough to roll.
Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and roll into a circle on a lightly-floured board, large enough to fit a 23-25 cm tart pan or spring form pan with sufficient to go 2 cm up the sides.
Remove the jam from the refrigerator and spread onto the pastry generously.
Put back in the refrigerator while making the melting moment topping.
For the melting moment topping
Cream the butter, icing sugar and vanilla essence in a mixing bowl with electric beater until light and creamy.
Sift the flour, cornflour and ground cinnamon into a mixing bowl.
Gradually add the sifted flour mixture into the butter mixture and whisk well.
Transfer the topping into a piping bag with a star nozzle attached and pipe into a lattice shape design on top of the pastry, sprinkling the outer edges with some almond flakes.
Bake in the pre-heated oven until golden brown for about 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Generously shake with icing sugar and serve warm or cold. Bon appetit.
- The Southland Times