New year, new recipes. Having been a bit slack over Christmas and the New Year – enjoying cakes and biscuits baked mostly by my parents for a change – I commenced my baking two weekends ago. I had only had a baking break of three weeks (and I did make a poppy seed cake and fruity crumble cake on Christmas Day, so it’s not that I didn’t practice at all), but it all went to pieces. My first cake of 2012 was the famous sand cake (Sandkuchen), but it went so wrong. It started off OK and the cake rose beautifully. But it just rose and rose and when it had covered most of my newly cleaned oven I had to take drastic measures that I don’t want to go into. The second cake I made was my mother’s excellent apple cake with a sour cream topping. This tasted good, but it just didn’t look anywhere near as nice as my mum’s, so it didn’t make it into the blog, either. Finally, this weekend, my baking started to recover. Following a German baked cheesecake that almost hit the mark, the Linzer tart came out top. So here it is: my first recipe of 2012.
Obviously, the Linzer tart is not German, but Austrian. However, it is an extremely popular cake all over Germany and in the south in particular. There are two basic variations of this cake. One is made with a sponge-cake type batter and the decorative grid is piped on. The other, and arguably most original and traditional variant (as in my recipe below), is made from pastry and the decoration is rolled out or cut instead. Although the Linzer tart is eaten all year round, I think it is particularly pleasant in the winter with its subtle flavour of cloves and cinnamon. In order to achieve the typically crumbly and soft texture it is important to wrap the tart in foil and cling film and to let it rest for about a week before it is consumed. The ‘original’ Linzer tart is characterised by a filling of red currant jam (called ‘Ribisel’ in Austria). As this is not widely available in the UK I usually use raspberry jam instead. Any jam or fruit jelly will work well, but I think one with a red colour looks best.
This recipe is for a 28 cm spring form:
For the pastry:
300 g plain flour
300 g ground nuts (a mixture of almonds and hazelnuts is best)
250 g sugar
1 egg and one extra egg yolk
300 g butter
2 large pinches of ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
For the filling and decoration:
250 g jam (red currant, if available, or raspberry)
1 egg yolk
Quickly combine the pastry ingredients. Wrap in cling film and leave the pastry to rest in the fridge for about 1 hour.
Roll out about 2/3 of the pastry and add to the greased spring form (press down evenly with your fingers if required). Roll the remaining pastry into a thin sausage (about the thickness of a pen). Line the circumference of the spring form with a length of this sausage to form a rim (this will prevent the jam from oozing out). Spread the jam on top of the cake and then use the remaining strips of pastry to decorate with a grid-like pattern. Brush the pastry rim and grid with egg yolk and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for about 50 minutes.