One of my favorite cookies is the Linzer. Packed with nuts and spice and sandwiched with a layer of raspberry or apricot jam, it's among the best of the season. Linzer Cookies are a permutation of Linzertorte, a tart that dates back to a 17th century recipe from Admont Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Austria. Linzertorte is made with a spiced nut pastry dough, filled with jam and topped with a criss-cross lattice of pastry.
This is a cake version of the flavors and scents of this delicious traditional tart and cookie. I've based the recipe on the popular Walnut Jam Cake from Gourmet. Instead of walnuts, I use a combination of almonds and hazelnuts. I've added cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and some citrus zest to introduce the Linzer flavors. The cake is filled with a thin layer of raspberry jam brightened with lemon juice and dusted with a whisper of snowy powdered sugar.
The method for mixing this cake was new to me. Since I've never mixed cake batter in a food processor, my pastry training kept gnawing at me and I was a bit skeptical about what sort of texture would result. To my surprise, the crumb is beautifully fine and tender. A revelation for quick and stress-free mixing.
Wishing you and your family the very best of the holiday season. May your tables be brimming with delicious treats shared with love and joy. Cheers!
Bench notes:- Toast almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Toast hazelnuts for about 10 - 15 minutes. Cool before using.
- The Walnut Jam Cake call for 1 1/4 cups (4 1/2 oz) walnuts. I use different volumes to approximate the same weight for almonds and hazelnuts.
- The recipe doesn't instruct on the temperature of the butter. I let it sit for just about 6 - 8 minutes at room temperature. Once the nuts and sugar are ground and the butter is added and processed, it begins to look like cookie dough.
- Use just a couple of drops of almond extract to enhance the nut flavors.
- Cake can be wrapped and stored at room temperature for a day or two before slicing.
- Here's some guidance on how to slice a cake into two layers. I usually don't need to chill the cake before slicing and I use a long serrated knife. The removable bottom from a tart pan works well to lift the top half and set aside.
- Use your favorite jam and substitute blackberry, apricot or currant, if you please. Add lemon juice to taste.
- I think a thin layer of chocolate under the jam would be supreme. Just melt about 4 - 5 oz of semisweet or bittersweet and spread it evenly across either the bottom layer or across the cut side of the top layer before placing it back on top of the jam.
based on Walnut Jam Cake from Gourmet
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
3/4 cup (3 1/2 oz) toasted almonds
1/4 cup (1 1/4 oz) toasted hazelnuts
2/3 cup (4 3/4 oz) sugar
zest of 1/2 orange
zest of 1/2 lemon
4 oz (8 tablespoons) butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup raspberry jam or preserves
1 teaspoon lemon juice, to taste
fresh raspberries (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8" x 2 1/2" cake pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a bowl and set aside.
Place almonds, hazelnuts, sugar and citrus zest in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the nuts are finely chopped. Add the butter pieces and process until combined. Add all the eggs, vanilla and almond extract and process until thoroughly mixed. Add the flour mixture and pulse just until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and spread evenly.
Bake the cake until golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 28 - 30 minutes. Place on a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes. Run a thin-bladed knife around the edge to loosen. Invert the cake and gently remove the parchment. Invert again and cool completely.
Place the cake on a serving platter. Using a serrated knife, slice the cake into two layers. Gently lift the top layer and set aside.
Whisk the jam with the lemon juice together until smooth. Spread the jam over the bottom layer of the cake to within 1/4" of the edge. Place the top layer over the jam and dust the the top with powdered sugar. Garnish with raspberries, if desired.