14 February 2010
I am not one of those people who always keeps bread in the house. I also don't freak out and a run to the store when the weather forecast says snow. I actually like walking the 4 blocks to my little local grocery in the snow.
But last week with three feet of snow on the ground, not only did I not have bread, I didn't even have any flour. I trudged to the store only to find no bread, and no flour (for the record the store had just about everything else you could want). So, I trudged several more blocks in white-out conditions only to find the same situation at the next store. At this point icicles were forming on my eyelashes, so I resigned myself to going back to my sadly starch-less home. The thought of being stuck at home for days without even a baking project to entertain me was making me pretty desperate, as I contemplated grounding my remaining almonds into flour, or making a flourless cake.
And that was when I realized that I should make a linzer tart.
Back at home, warm and with my boots dripping by the front door, I found a lonely half cup of pastry flour lingering in the back of my pantry. I painstakingly picked all the hazelnuts out of a bag of mixed nuts (hey, there wasn't much else to do), and ground them with some almonds into a rough flour. Adding butter, flour, and spices, and voila, a dough was made. A few slicks of homemade jam, and a stint in the oven, and two sweet little tarts were there to see my sugar-tooth through the storm.
Just in time for Valentine's (or Chinese New Year, or the Olympics, or whatever you want to celebrate this week).
This classic Austrian pastry hails from the town of Linz. You may also find it is very reminiscent of the Pepperidge Farm linzer cookies your mom put in your lunch box as a kid.
1 cup flour
1/2 cup ground almonds (about 2/3 cup before grinding)
1/2 cup ground hazelnuts (about 2/3 cup before grinding)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
a sprinkling of lemon zest
8 tablespoons softened butter
1 egg, separated
3/4 cup raspberry jam
1. Combine the dry ingredients for the dough, plus the lemon zest, stirring to combine. Using a pastry blender, food processor or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Add the egg white and mix until the dough comes together (if the dough is dry add a splash of water). Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for an hour.
2. Preheat oven to 350F. Let the dough come back to room temperature, then roll the dough out and fit into an 8" tart pan. Cut remaining dough into shapes as desired. Spread jam inside of tart, decorate with cut-out shapes. Beat the remaining egg yolk with a bit of water and brush over the pastry.
3. Bake 35 minutes or until deeply golden and firm. Cool completely before serving. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.