Linzer torte, and the lost baking competition…


When my brother was about eight years old, and I was fifteen,  there was a bake sale at our local swimming pool, along with a friendly competition for the best cake.

My mother and I decided we would both participate. My mom made her famous strudel. She used a pre-packaged puff pastry from the supermarket and filled it with apples, raisins, lemon, cinnamon, and sugar. It looked and tasted delicious.

I decided, instead, to make everything from scratch, I and baked a Linzer Torte. I remember the care and love I put into looking for a recipe, finding the ingredients and baking a perfectly criss-crossed lattice torte. I was so proud of my creation, and I even used some egg wash, to make it shine. I was so certain that I would win that my ego was savoring the fame even before we got there, and I checked out the competition. Oh, I still remember the anticipation… then they declared the winner, and my mom took home the prize. I don’t think my cake made it to the top three! What a blow! My dear Aunt Carla, I still remember, tried to console me, and said that my torte was so perfect that the judges probably thought I had bought it. Well, that day I did learn a lesson, and I inevitably became much more humble in my assumptions, baking or otherwise.

Last week, though, my husband and I were watching Martha Stewart Bake on PBS and she was making a Linzer Torte. That inspired me, once again. I decided that I would make a more rustic version, and I would use the hazelnut flour that I had found on sale three weeks before. I was determined to redeem myself, and I baked it to share with friends the day after.

I do like to watch Martha Stewart, but at times I find that she is not always true to the original recipes.  I’ll never forget the time she used olive oil instead of butter in her risotto recipe! My husband is still hearing about it…

So, I looked for a recipe, in Italian, thinking that my country’s proximity to Austria – the country of origin of the torte – would increase the possibility of a recipe close to the original.

I am sharing what I found, and I can tell you that even my picky eater, after he tasted the torte, wouldn’t stop eating it. If you don’t have hazelnut flour, you can use almond flour. Though, hazelnuts do give the torte a completely different depth of flavor.

Gluten-free Linzer Torte

Simona’s Flour Mix                  2 cups (300 gr)
Hazelnut Flour                           2 1/2 cups (300 gr)
Baking powder                           1/2 teaspoon
Salt                                                 1/2 teaspoon
Granulated sugar                       1 cup  (220 gr)
All spice                                         1/2 teaspoon
Cinnamon                                     1 teaspoon
Lemon zest                                   1 lemon
Eggs, large                                    1 whole and 1 yolk
Unsalted butter                           1 1/3 cup (300 gr)

Raspberry Jam                            1 13 oz jar (I used Bonne Maman)

Egg wash                                      1 large egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream

Confectioners’ sugar to finish.

On the counter create a mountain using the flours, baking powder, salt, sugar, and spices. Cut the butter in half inch slices and place the the slices around the side of the mountain.  Make a well in the top of the mountain and add the egg and yolk, and lemon zest. Then, mix everything with your hands, until the mountain transforms into a smooth and homogeneous dough. Form into rectangle. Wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour.  Here you can find pictures of the process.

Preheat the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the bottom of a 9″ tart pan with parchment paper, and grease the pan. Use 2/3 of the dough to coat the pan, bottom and sides. Pour the raspberry jam in the center, and spread evenly. Roll out the rest of the dough, using plastic wrap, to an approximately 9″ round. Cut even strips and crisscross them on top of the torte. Honestly, I didn’t do a true lattice top, but instead I layered the bottom stripes first, then the top ones.

Brush the dough with egg wash, and bake in the oven for 50 minutes. I usually place the tart on a baking sheet, so that nothing drips into the oven.

Let the torte cool on a baking sheet completely before unmolding it. Coat with confectioners’ sugar if desired.



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