Mothers’ Day has never been something we’ve really celebrated in our family (Mum just wasn’t into it. Maybe because I would have quite liked to do breakfast in bed when I was little, and she feared what I would do to the kitchen? A justifiable fear, to be fair). Anyway, this year my mother *did* want to celebrate Mothers’ Day, so to make this much easier for my brother and me, she promptly went gallivanting off to Perth for a ten day holiday, two days beforehand. (Apparently, the best Mothers’ Day celebration is one that puts a largeish continent between you and your children.)
OK, I should probably stop being cheeky now and get to the point(s) of this post, which are that a) we are doing Mothers’ Day ten days late and b) I decided the most appropriate thing I could make Mum for her belated Mothers’ Day would be her mother’s Linzer Torte. It’s the perfect gift recipe, because it’s a family favourite, but it’s also really fiddly and annoying to make, and thus not something that any of us make very often.
My philosophy with fiddly and annoying foodstuffs is to make them in huge quantities, so that all that fiddly annoyingness pays off for more than one meal (or one batch). I therefore decided to triple Oma’s recipe. But then I started mentally composing blog-posts about it (as you do) and realised that while hazelnuts or walnuts might make interesting variations, the one I really wanted to try was pistachios. Because who wouldn’t like green pastry? And of course, pistachios and apricots are absolute Middle East favourites. It turns out that pistachios make a very fragile, but delicious, pastry. The one thing I’d do differently next time is not forget to move the biscuits to the cooling rack, so that they will crisp up better.
So herewith, two recipes for the price of one: Oma’s Linzer Torte, and my Sydney-Road inspired Coburger Torte.
(Happy Mothers’ Day, Mum!)Your Shopping List for Linzer Torte 200 g plain flour 180 g butter 100 g sugar (raw caster sugar is good) 160 g coarsely ground almonds 1 egg yolk (optional, but if you use it you can make meringues with the white! Or a very, very small pavlova!) 250 ml plum or raspberry or cherry jam Your Shopping List for Coburger Torte 160 g pistachios 200 g plain flour 180 g butter 100 g sugar (raw caster sugar is nice) 1/4 tsp of cardamom (optional, which is to say, I meant to put it in, but forgot 1 egg yolk (optional, but you can use the whites for macarons, and you know you want to!) 250 ml apricot jam 1/2 tsp orange flower water
Now what will you do with it?
I’m going to give you two separate methods – Oma’s method, which I would use normally, and the food processor method I ended up using for the Coburg version, because once I’d put the pistachios into the food processor, it seemed silly to take them out again and get another bowl dirty.
Rub together the flour and butter with your fingers, then rub in the ground almonds and sugar. Use a fork to mix in the egg until you have a nice, soft dough.
For the pistachio version, blitz them in a food processor until they are quite finely ground or until you get bored.
Add in the flour (and cardamom, if you didn’t forget it) and blitz some more, then add in the butter and sugar. You should probably pulse all this rather than blitzing it thoroughly, as I suspect it will get a bit tough if you really go nuts with it. Finally add in the egg yolk and pulse to combine.
Whichever recipe you are using, you now want to roll about two thirds of the mixture out into a rectangle. It should be about 2-3 mm thick. I recommend doing this on greaseproof paper, because you can then put the greaseproof paper directly onto your oven tray.
If you are doing the pistachio variant, warm the apricot jam briefly with the orange flower water and stir to combine, then spread over the amusingly green pastry.
If you are being traditional, just go ahead and spread the pastry with your red jam. Now is a good time to start pre-heating the oven to 180°. Trust me, by the time you have done the next step, it will definitely be pre-heated.
Now for the annoying, fiddly bit. Roll out the rest of the pastry and cut it into strips, then place these in a lattice pattern over the jam.
That sounds so straightforward, doesn’t it? Ha. It only sounds easy because you haven’t tried it and thus don’t know how crumbly this pastry is (you really want that egg yolk if possible – without it, this pastry is an utter nightmare as opposed to just being a serious pain). I tend to roll out strips and piece them together.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden-brown in places. I tend to let them cool on the tray for a bit, as they are very fragile, then transfer them, paper and all to a rack to cool completely. At which point they try to crumble, especially the pistachio. My note from today’s experience is *do* keep the slice on the tray for 5-10 minutes after they come out of the oven, but then get it off the tray and onto the rack. If you don’t wait, it will be too soft and will crumble as you try to transfer it. If you just let it cool on the tray or on a board, it will lose its crispness. I managed to do both these things with the pistachio one, which means I will have to make it again. The horror…
Cut into squares to serve. These keep well for a week or so, but I’ve never known them to last that long.
What, one fully-written-out variation wasn’t enough for you? Well, as I hinted at the top, hazelnut or walnut meal would work well here, and quince jam or jelly is great on just about any variant. You can also cut them into little biscuit shapes with windows through which to see the jam, if you like.
This recipe isn’t going to go gluten-free very easily, I don’t think, unless you have a really good all-purpose gluten-free flour. I certainly wouldn’t try making it with all almond meal or pistachio meal – it would fall apart when you blinked at it.
You can make it without the egg-yolk, but it does get even more friable (tastes fabulous, though). Maybe add a little cold water to the pastry to help it hold together instead? Or, actually, I would bet that 60ml of cream cheese instead of eggs would make this dough *amazing*. Though still very fragile.
The very idea of making this with margarine makes me cringe a little, but it could be done if you are avoiding dairy. But make it a good margarine, please! This is, after all, a very buttery sort of biscuit. You want it to taste buttery, not fake. The difficulty with a recipe like this is that it’s so firmly ingrained in my mind and memory that it’s hard to think of big ways to change it.
Do I even need to say that this recipe is not nut-free?
This time last year…