by Stephanie Zonis
The first time I took one of these out of the oven, it was so beautiful that I just stood gazing admiringly at it for a while. A Linzertart is a traditional Austrian pastry, with a very rich, almond-based, spiced dough and a jam filling. The chocolate in this version lends a distinct accent that I like very much. More strips of dough are placed on top of the tart, which is then glazed and baked. This is a project, and I would not recommend it for a beginner.
The dough is very easy to make in a food processor. Because it is so rich, it can be difficult to handle, but then again it is also easy to patch. I apply the glaze with a forefinger. You can use a pastry brush, but you must be careful not to get very much of the glaze onto the tart mold, or it will stick. You'll need a 9-1/2 inch diameter round, fluted tart mold for this; it should be 1 inch deep. The Linzertart will keep at room temperature for a few days, if stored airtight; it also freezes (thaw, still in wrappings, in refrigerator or at room temperature). I would serve this with lightly sweetened whipped cream.
The pastry for this tart will not be crisp, but rather crumbly and delicate. You must allow the finished Linzertart to stand at least overnight before serving so the flavors can blend. In addition, if you do not serve this all at once, you may notice that the filling tends to "weep" slightly from cut edges upon standing for a while; this can be easily blotted up with a paper towel. I have found this to be more of a favorite with adults than with kids, but in any case serve small portions, as it is quite rich.
1 cup unblanched (skin-on) almonds
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Scant 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Scant 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into thin pats
2 egg yolks, from eggs graded "large"
Filling (see Note):
4 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (12 ounces) morello (sour cherry) preserves
1/2 cup thick, unsweetened applesauce
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. water
In large workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, combine almonds and about half of sugar (reserve remainder). Pulse processor on-and-off until almonds are finely ground. Add flour, remaining sugar, cinnamon, and cloves, and process just until well-mixed. Ass butter pats; pulse processor on-and-off until mixture is in fine crumbs. Turn into large bowl.
In small cup, beat egg yolks with fork just to blend. Add to flour-butter mixture and mix in well with fork. Gather up about 2/3 of this dough; form into a flattish circle. Wrap well in plastic wrap. Form remaining dough into a flattish rectangle, and wrap well in plastic wrap. Chill both doughs for at least two hours (or for a day or two).
For Filling and Assembly:
Assemble a 9-1/2 inch diameter by 1 inch deep fluted tart mold. In small heatproof bowl over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl), melt chocolate, stirring often, just until smooth. Remove from heat and hot water; set aside. In another small bowl, stir together preserves and applesauce until well-blended; set aside.
Remove the package of 1/3 of the dough from the refrigerator. Allow to stand at room temperature just until it can be rolled out without cracking (if dough does crack at any time, it's a simple matter to patch it). Roll dough into a rectangle about 11 by 7 inches (I roll this dough between two sheets of very lightly floured wax paper. I also peel off the top sheet, replace it, flip the dough over, then pull off and replace the other sheet frequently to prevent sticking). Peel off top sheet of wax paper. with pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut dough into strips 11 inches long by about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide. Replace top sheet of wax paper. Slide a cutting board or cookie sheet under the bottom sheet of wax paper to keep the dough flat, then transfer to refrigerator and chill while rolling out remaining dough. Note: If at any time dough you are rolling softens too much, simply replace in refrigerator and chill until it can be handled.
Allow remaining dough to rest at room temperature just until it can be rolled out without cracking. Roll out, following above procedures, to a circle about 11-1/2 inches in diameter (dough should be about 1/8 inch thick). Carefully drape the circle of dough losely over your rolling pin, then transfer carefully to tart mold. Press dough into mold without stretching it. Again, if it tears, just patch it. Try not to have dough too thick where bottom and sides of mold meet. To trim excess dough, place rolling pin across top center of tart mold. Roll outward in one direction only, then place rolling pin across top center of tart mold and roll outward in opposite direction.
Scrape melted bittersweet chocolate into bottom of lined tart mold; with back of spoon, spread to form an even layer. Chill until chocolate is set, about 10 minutes. Remove from refrigerator; place preserve-applesauce mixture on top of set chocolate, again spreading to form an even layer. Tart shell will be about 3/4 full.
Remove chilled pastry strips from refrigerator. Still between wax paper sheets, turn upside down. Peel off top sheet of wax paper. Working quickly, place one strip across top center of tart mold, dividing it in half. Place two other strips in each half across top of tart mold, trying to make all strips as equidistant from one another as possible. You'll have 5 strips going across the top of the mold now. Turn tart mold about 45 degrees in one direction. Repeat procedure with 5 more strips, placing them on top of the first strips. You'll see that the filling shows through the strips in a diamond pattern. The strips will not stay flat across the top of the mold, but should rest on top of the filling—OK. Now, trim the strips as you trimmed the excess dough over the edges of the mold earlier, with a rolling pin rolled outward from the center first in one direction, then in the opposite direction. Chill the tart for about 15 minutes. Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Have ready a doubled length of heavy-duty aluminum foil about 11 inches square.
In small cup, beat egg yolk and water. Remove tart from refrigerator. with pastry brush or fingertip, carefully glaze lattice strips and edges of tart; do not get the glaze onto the tart mold if you can help it. If any glaze gets into the filling, remove it with a clean fingertip. Chill tart again for 15 minutes.
Place square of foil on center rack; place filled tart on top of foil. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until tart is slightly risen and a medium golden brown. Turn tart back-to-front once about halfway during baking.
When done, remove to cooling rack, discarding foil square (you'll see that some butter has leaked out of the tart onto the foil). Allow to cool to room temperature before removing sides of tart mold. When cooled completely, wrap airtight. Store at least overnight before serving.
To serve, cut with a small, sharp knife (I use a serrated knife), being careful not to scratch bottom of tart mold. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream (and a cup of good coffee).
Traditionally, Linzertart is filled with jam, unmixed with applesauce. Bernard Clayton, Jr., in his excellent The Complete Book of Pastry, Sweet & Savory (Simon & Schuster: New York, 1981) notes that using a 2:1 ratio of jam to applesauce cuts through the richness and concentrated flavor of the jam; I agree. If you like, however, use 1-1/2 cups of jam, and omit the applesauce. It is traditional to use raspberry jam for the filling, and you may substitute that for the morello preserves if you wish (I prefer seedless red raspberry). I have also used a mixture of 1 cup thick apricot preserves and 1/2 cup thick orange marmalade successfully.
More Austrian Recipes
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