I have an almost empty jar of my mother’s home-made plum jam in the refrigerator. Word associations. Plum jam. Jam tart. Hazelnuts and jam. Linzertorte. A delicious tart made with a crumbly crust of flour, butter, egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts. Topped with preserves and a distinctive pastry lattice.
Torte is the German word for cake. Linz is a picturesque city located on the banks of the Danube River in Austria. Touted as the oldest cake recipe in the world, Linzertorte has a romantic history dating back to the old Austro-Hungarian empire. Legend has it that Austrians have been making and eating this cake for over 350 years. The oldest written recipe dates back to 1653 and was recently located in the archives of the library at Admont Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Austria. The torte gained wider popularity in 1823 when a local Linz baker Johann Konrad Vogel started selling it commercially.
Mulling over the long history of Linzertorte I suddenly recall a long forgotten recipe for Linzertorte. Masquerading as a delectable slice. A former firm family favourite. No doubt baked one too many times in quick succession. Then discarded and abandoned. To the depths of my kitchen recipe drawer. In my mind’s eye I can picture the recipe. A page torn from Australian Gourmet Traveller many years ago. Time to empty that drawer and begin my search. A trip down memory lane. I’m diverted by so many wonderful, half-forgotten recipes I haven’t cooked in years. Ready to be resurrected again. Several pleasant hours later there it is. Towards the bottom of the pile. A crumpled page torn from Australian Gourmet Traveller dated March 2002.
Here is my latest rendition of the world’s oldest cake. Using the last of my mother’s plum jam. Linzertorte. Truly delectable with its crisp, nutty pastry base and luscious fruit topping. So delicious I’m sure it will survive another 350 years in one form or another.
Linzertorte Slice With Plum Jam
Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller, March 2002
1 cup caster sugar
125 g ground hazelnuts
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
120 g cold unsalted butter
1 large egg lightly beaten
3/4 cup raspberry or plum jam
PREHEAT oven to 180 C.
PROCESS sugar, hazelnuts, flour and cinnamon in a food processor until combined.
ADD butter and pulse until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
ADD egg and process until mixture just comes together. You may need to add a teaspoon or so of water to the mixture at this point- it all depends on the size of the egg.
SHAPE the pastry into a ball and cover in cling wrap. Refrigerate for an hour.
CUT off one third of the pastry and roll between two sheets of baking paper to the size of your baking tin. I use an 18 x 28 cm rectangular slice tin. Freeze between the baking paper sheets on a flat tray for 15 minutes.This pastry will be used for the lattice top of the slice.
MEANWHILE roll out the remaining pastry between two sheets of baking paper to line the base of your baking tin.
PLACE pastry over the base of the tin. Trim excess and spread evenly with jam.
REMOVE rolled pastry from the freezer and using a sharp knife cut the pastry rectangle into 1 1/2 – 2 cm wide strips.
PLACE the strips diagonally over the jam to form a lattice.
BAKE at 180 C, middle rack position, for about 25 minutes or until golden.
COOL in tin and then cut into squares.