Linzer Torte Cookies
Adapted, with somewhat modified directions, from Maida Heatter’s Book Of Great Desserts
Linzer tortes hail from the city of Linz, Austria. There are many variations, but almost all include a very buttery base mostly comprised of ground nuts — there are versions with almonds and hazelnuts, too. Read more here.
Yield: 2 9-inch round tortes, 2 8-inch square tortes, 1 9×13-inch or 1 11- to 12-inch round torte. The round shape is traditional, and served in wedges. (8 wedges from each 9-inch round). The square shape can be cut into bar cookies (16 from each 8-inch square or 32 from a 9×13 rectangle).
- Base and lattice
- 4 1/2 cups (1 pound or 455 grams) shelled walnuts
- 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (I halved this, using only 1/4 teaspoon)
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon table salt (Heatter says 1/4, I really prefer this with 1/2)
- 2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces or 285 grams) cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 1 2/3 cup (330 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup (about 20 to 25 grams) fine, dry breadcrumbs
- 2 cups (about 575 grams) seedless raspberry jam
- To finish
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon water
- 2/3 to 1 cup (75 to 115 grams) to slivered almonds (julienne-shaped pieces) (optional)
Make base: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter two 9-inch round layer cake pans (preferably with removable bottoms if you plan to serve this in wedges, like a cake), two 8-inch square pans (what I used, then cut each into square bars, like cookies), one 9×13-inch rectangular pan (again, for bar cookies) or one 11- to 12-inch round cake pan (again ideally with a removable bottom). Line the bottom of each with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit, then butter then paper.
In a food processor, process walnuts and 1/2 cup of the flour (reserve remaining 2 1/2 cups for next step) for 15 seconds, or until the nuts are finely ground but have not formed a paste.
Place remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a large, wide-ish mixing bowl. With a pastry blender, work the butter into the dry mixture until it forms coarse crumbs. Stir in the sugar and walnut-flour mixture. In a small dish, beat the whole egg, yolk, and lemon rind utnil combined, and stir into crumb mixture. Stir the mixture in as best as you can with a spoon, then work the rest in with your hands. Knead the dough a few times inside the bowl until a cohesive mass, one that holds together, forms.
Divide dough into quarters if making two tortes, or halves if making one.
Place one portion into the bottom of each pan, and press evenly and firmly over the bottoms and then about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches up the sides with your fingers. Don’t worry about making it smooth or level on the sides; it gets filled in later.
Bake shell(s) for 15 minutes, or until it barely begins to color at the edges.
While the shell(s) bakes, roll remaining piece(s) of dough between two pieces of waxed paper, until 1/4- to 3/8-inch in thickness one inch bigger than your pan size. [I.e., for each 9-inch round torte, you’ll want a 10-inch diameter circle; for each 8-inch square torte, a 9-inch square, etc.] Transfer to freezer until the dough is well-chilled, about 20 minutes.
Remove shell(s) from oven and let cool slightly; reduce baking temperature to 350 degrees.
Make filling: If you’re using panko or another coarse dry breadcrumb, you can pulse it in a food processor until it is fine powder. I found I needed almost double the volume in panko (7 tablespoons) to yield 1/4 cup of a fine breadcrumb powder.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons finely ground breadcrumbs over each par-baked shell, or all 1/4 cup over your single large one. If jam is not already soft, stir it until it is, then spread 1 cup over each shell. Cut dough(s) into 1/2- to 3/4-inch wide strips, cutting through the bottom of the waxed paper at the same time. Lift each strip-and-waxed paper over the jam and reverse it onto the jam, then peel off waxed paper. Cut the ends of the dough by pressing them onto the sides of the pan. Arrange strips 1/2- to 3/4-inch apart, crisscrossing them on an angle to make a lattice top with diamond-shaped openings. [Note: I neither “wove” my lattice or ended up making “diamond-shaped” openings. Oops.] Use leftover pieces to fill in any gaps between lattice-strips and tall sides of shells. The two doughs will blend together in the oven.
To finish: Mix egg yolks and water. Brush it all over lattice top and border. Sprinkle with almonds, if using. (I prefer to use 1/3 cup per smaller torte, instead of the 1/2 cup Heatter recommends. I only sprinkled them on one.) Bake torte(s) for 45 to 60 minutes (Heatter recommends 60, I find it perfect, but ovens and baking pans vary, check yours sooner if you’re nervous), until crust and almonds on top are well-browned.
Remove from oven and place on racks. If you’ve baked it in a cake pan and wish to serve it as a “cake,” i.e. in wedges, Heatter recommends that you remove it from the pan while still warm by cutting around the torte carefully (the crust is very fragile) with a small, sharp knife and loosening the torte in the pan, before reversing it onto a cooling rack, and then back again onto another rack to finish cooling. If using a pan with a removable base, you should safely be able to remove it once it has fully cooled. Personally, I had no trouble letting my cool fully in the square pan but the first square did not come out cleanly.
Once fully cool, Heatter recommends you let the tortes stand overnight (covered with foil) before serving for best flavor. You can decorate the tortes with powdered sugar before serving in wedges or squares.