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Linzer torte is a rich fruit and nut dessert named for the Austrian town of Linz. It is believed to be one of the oldest desserts of its kind in Europe, with recipes dating to the mid-1600s. This dessert is commonly found across Austria and Germany, often in the form of large tarts which are cut into slices for serving; in other regions of the world, personal linzer tortes are much more common. In addition to being found in bakeries, linzer torte can also be made at home.
This dessert is much like a pie, with a top crust, a layer of fruit preserves, and then a top lattice. However, the crust is extremely short, meaning that it has a lot of shortening such as butter or lard, and as a result, the pastry is very crumbly and flaky. In addition, the pastry is mixed with ground nuts and spices, creating a very distinctive flavor, and traditionally nuts are sprinkled on top of the linzer torte before baking. In a sense, a linzer torte is almost like a rich fruit and nut shortbread cookie.
Making linzer torte starts with making or obtaining good fruit preserves. Traditionally, berry preserves are used, with the seeds being an integral part of the linzer torte experience, but technically any sort of fruit preserve can be used. Once the cook has flavorful preserves on hand, he or she can begin making the crust.
To make the crust, half a cup of nuts like almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts should be toasted, and then ground with a half cup of flour to create a coarse meal. An additional cup of flour should be added to the mixture, along with the zest of one lemon, a teaspoon of cinnamon, a half teaspoon baking powder, a quarter teaspoon salt, and a pinch of ground cloves. Once this mixture has been thoroughly combined, 14 tablespoons of butter should be added and worked in without being allowed to melt.
Once the butter is thoroughly worked in, creating an almost sandy mixture, two egg yolks and a teaspoon of vanilla should be added, and the dough should be worked just enough to pull it into a ball. Overworking will cause the dough to turn rather cardboardy, which is not desired. Then, the dough is cut in half and allowed to chill for at least half an hour.
One half of the dough can simply be pressed into a springform pan without being rolled out, and then topped with the fruit preserves. The other half of the dough will need to be rolled out and cut into lattice strips, which are carefully woven across the top of the linzer torte. Sliced almonds or other nuts are sprinkled around the rim before baking; once the crust turns golden brown, the linzer torte should be removed and allowed to cool before the pan is opened to remove the torte.
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