Sunday, December 06, 2009

Holiday Baking

Yesterday was the perfect baking day. It started raining at 12am and didn't stop all night. By late morning, the rain had turned into big, wet snowflakes. It was cold and messy outside, so I stayed home and made a stew and dessert. The plan had been to start making candies for my holiday care packages, but it was too humid so it had to be cake instead. Well actually, a tart. An Austrian Linzertorte, to be exact.

I love Linzertortes. I love to make them, because the results are a lot more impressive-looking than the actual effort - they are as beautiful as making a perfect lattice-top pie, but much quicker and easier. I love the way they taste, and I love that if I have any extra dough, I can make Linzer cookies with them. I could also do away with the entire tart and go straight for the cookies, which are just as gorgeous, and travel well in holiday cookie tins.

I used this recipe from because it called for almond flour, which I had on hand.

Traditional Linzertortes all use a nut flour - usually almond, sometimes hazelnut or walnut. The recipes that didn't use ground nuts I passed on, because then I would just be making a spiced tart, not a Linzertorte. The nuts are usually what the store-bought versions skimp on too, which always makes for a huge disappointment. I don't have a food processor so I prefer to buy the nut flour. Almond flour is the easiest to find and least expensive. The large proportion of nuts to flour in the dessert makes the crust particularly fine and crisp-crumbly. While it's baking, the butter baking with the almond makes the most amazing sweet, rich, nutty aroma. Although the recipe is straightforward, the use of nut flour and almost a full jar of jam makes it a relatively expensive dessert to make, but oh, so worth it. You be the judge.