Named after the city of Linz in Austria, Linzertorte is said to be the oldest cake in the world dating back to a Veronese recipe from 1653. Its popularity rose after being taken over to Milwaukee by an Austrian traveller. The linzer cookie is a derivative of the linzertorte made by cutting out shapes of a cookie dough similar to the pastry of the linzertorte, topping with jam and placing another cookie on top with a hole missing to expose the filling like the lattice design on a traditional linzertorte. I love the German translation of the linzer cookie, they are Linzer Augen, literally Linzer Eyes!
Linzertorte pastry is flavoured with lemon zest, cinnamon and ground hazelnuts but this recipe uses ground almonds which are much easier to find and compliment the lemon well. The important step in this recipe is to chill the biscuit dough before rolling out and after cutting out – chilling is required for the dough before rolling as it is impossible to roll this dough out without chilling so this dough can be made in advance; chilling is required after cutting out to help maintain the shape of the linzer cookies so they don’t spread much which could ruin the appearance since the 2 cookie halves must be identical in shape!
One little trick I like to do is add the lemon zest in the creaming process. The friction from the granulated sugar releases the oils in the lemon zest adding much more flavour to the dough and it distributes it much more evenly too!
The filling I use is a good quality strawberry conserve. Of course you can use any other flavour beside strawberry however I like the strong contrast of the jam from the dusted icing sugar on top which is so visually pleasing! Blueberry jam would work fantastically with the lemon and almond flavour in the biscuits and would be a great colour.
So you might see these and think they are very similar to jammy dodgers – they are essentially the same thing! The great thing about the linzer cookies is that you don’t have to stick to the traditional round shape, you can make them into whatever shape you want to suit any occasion – I chose to go for the cupcake shape to keep the baking theme going! Just make sure that you have a smaller cutter to cut out the hole for the top linzer cookie to expose the filling. I think it looks more attractive if the hole is the same shape as the cookie itself but it doesn’t have to be!
I made a Giant Linzer Cookie as well as Linzer Sandwich Cookies and the quantity of dough stated below is enough to make a 10in giant cookie and 7 sandwich cookies and plenty of leftover too. I would make a large batch of this dough and freeze what you don’t use so that it is on hand whenever you need cookie dough however you can just halve the dough if you want.
250g granulated sugar
Zest of 1 large lemon
2 tsp vanilla extract
500g plain flour
300g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
200g good quality strawberry conserve
Icing sugar, to dust
For the cookie dough, cream together the margarine with the sugar and lemon zest until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and egg until combined. Sift in the flour and baking powder and add in the ground almonds and use a spatula to fold in the dry ingredients until a soft but not sticky dough forms. Divide the dough in half, shape each half into a disc and wrap in clingfilm and chill for 90 minutes or even overnight.
Preheat the oven to 160˚C. Line some baking trays with baking parchment.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the cookie dough to 5mm thickness, rotating the dough every so often so it doesn’t stick to the surface.
For the Giant Linzer Cookie:
Remove the base from a 10in loose bottomed fluted tart tin. Use the tart tin to cut out a disc of the linzer cookie dough. Slide the base of the tin under the cookie and move to the lined baking tray. Refrigerate for 15 minutes meanwhile repeat the same process to cut out a second disc. On one disc, use a large shaped cutter to remove some dough for the hole in the centre of the top cookie – this cookie can act as the base for one sandwich cookie! I like to take the centres from the Linzer Sandwich Cookies and place them on top to continue the theme.
Bake the base linzer cookie for around 14 – 16 minutes until the cookie is golden brown on the surface and around the edges and feels set. Leave the cookie to cool on the tray for 10 minutes before carefully transporting to a cooling rack.
Bake the top linzer cookie for around 12 minutes until it is golden brown and set. While the cookie is still warm, take the same cutter you used for the hole and press again to remove any excess dough from where the cookie spread in the oven. Leave the cookie to cool on the tray completely. Once cool, dust lightly with icing sugar. [Excuse the slight crack, that was me trying to move it to the cooling rack]
To fill, turn the base of the Giant Cookie over on your serving dish or cake stand and spread over a good generous layer of the conserve, leaving a slight border. Then place the dusted top cookie on the base to make a Giant Linzer Cookie.
For the Linzer Sandwich Cookie:
Use your desired cookie cutter to cut out as many shapes from the rolled out dough as possible and place on the baking tray. Then cut out the shape of your hole on half of the cookies while on the tray (you won’t distort the shape when transporting them!). Reroll any of the offcuts no more than twice.
Chill the cookies for 15 minutes before baking the bases for 12-14 minutes and the tops for 10-12 minutes until golden brown around the edges and they feel set. Leave to cool on the trays completely. Dust the tops completely with icing sugar.
To fill the cookies, turn the bases of the cookies over and spread over a good generous layer of jam, leaving a slight border around the edge. Then take one of the dusted top cookies and sandwich together to make a Linzer Sandwich Cookie.
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