I was introduced to my favorite dessert in college at a coffeehouse called Café Vienna in the Mt. Adams hill neighborhood of Cincinnati. When I was in college, the late night coffeehouse scene was thriving. After a night of dancing or partying on campus we’d chill down at a coffee house, trying to solve all the world’s problems over coffee drinks and a sweet gnosh. There were several other coffeehouses in the area – Highland in Clifton was a legacy, as were several others in the gaslight district of Clifton. But none had the wonderful Linzertorte that Café Vienna had. It was love at first bite.
The rich, crunchy torte dough of ground nuts, spiced with clove, cinnamon and nutmeg, and the tangy-sweet taste of currant and raspberry jelly, was a symphony of flavors in my mouth. Apparently currents grow like weeds around Linz. Each subtle layer of flavor was like another instrument section to my taste buds.
Austria is well-known for its chocolate Sachertorte, but to me there is only one torte worth having and that’s the one from Linz. The Linzer torte is actually said to be the first written torte recipe in the world. The state library in Vienna has a recipe from 1696. But more recently an archivist found a recipe dating from 1653 in the archive of Admont Abbey, 50 miles from the Austrian Alps. Named after the capital of Upper Austria, Linz, the torte was made popular in 1822 by a Franconian baker Johann Konrad Vogel. He began working for a widowed confectioner, Katherina Kress, whom he married the next year. Vogel began baking the Linzer torte in high volume and established them as souvenirs to tourists visiting Austria. A torte is actually a type of cake, but unlike a cake it uses a small amount of flour and more ground nuts, like almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts in the dough, making it a heavier, richer dough than a cake. Some versions use only currant jelly, or instead use apricot jelly, but I’m a purist for the original mix of current and raspberry.
Sadly, Café Vienna closed the year I graduated college, and their wonderful Linzertorte became a thing of memory. I searched far and wide for another supplier. An upscale bakery called the Bonbonnerie had Linzer cookies that were good, but they weren’t the same as a warm slice of Linzertorte. So I had to take matters into my own hands and find and perfect a recipe to make Linzertorte myself.
I stumbled upon the recipe of the pastry chef, Marshall Faye, of the Von Trapp Family Lodge in Vermont. Yes, that’s the same Maria von Trapp from the Sound of Music. Apparently she and I share a few of our favorite things. In 1941, the real singing Von Trapp family settled in Stowe, Vermont, and opened a 93 room, 100-chalet resort that was once the humble home of Baron Georg, Maria, and the kids. Sam von Trapp, son of Johannes, the baby of the family, now runs the resort. And, as expected, there are sing-alongs, sleigh rides, schnitzel, and sauerbraten.
I have made this recipe many times for family and friends. Aside from my own taste bud approval, I know that it’s a great recipe, because it gained the approval of my grandmother, who ran a bakery with my grandfather for over thirty years. So I’d like to thank the Baroness for bringing Linzertorte back to me, by posting the recipe.
The only thing I’ve changed is I substitute finely ground hazelnuts for the walnuts. To me the hazelnuts gives it a more European flavor. Von Trapp Lodge Linzertorte 1-1/2 cups of flour ¼ tsp ground cinnamon ¼ tsp ground nutmeg 1/8 tsp ground cloves ¾ cup finely ground hazelnuts 12 tsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature ¾ cup of sugar 1 egg 1/3 cup red currant jelly 1/3 cup raspberry jam 2 tbsp sliced almonds Confectioners’ sugar
- Combine flour, spices and nuts together in a bowl. Mix well and set aside
- Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed. Gradually add sugar and beat until mixture is fluffy. Beat in egg, reduce speed and add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined (dough will be soft and sticky)
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter and flour a 9” tart pan with a removable bottom. Flour your hands and press half of the dough in bottom of pan. Press up the sides of the pan. Take remaining dough and make 6 balls. Set aside
- Combine the jelly and jam in a bowl, mix well and spoon into crust. With floured hands, roll out the remaining balls of dough on a lightly floured surface until each is 9” long. Crisscross strips of dough over filling (three strips each way), pinch side and top crusts together and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake until crust is golden brown, 30 minutes and dust with confectioners’ sugar.