In our holiday issue, author Megan Peck reminisces about her late grandmother Paula, who often hosted her culinary peers like James Beard, Craig Claiborne or Julia Child. Beard himself called her “an outstanding juggler with rolling pin and mixing bowl.”
And while the Pecks didn’t much celebrate the holidays (or rather, celebrated them by piling in the car for a road trip to Mexico), each December, Paula would bake linzer torte, a jewel-toned Austrian cake brimming with raspberry jam.
She reserve engineered it, mastered it and served it to her guests; now you can make it for yours.
Adapted by Megan Peck from her grandmother, Paula Peck’s book The Art of Fine Baking
1 cup raw almonds, ground in a food processor, or 1 cup almond meal
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
2 hard-cooked egg yolks
1 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
2 raw egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup thick raspberry jam
2 teaspoons light cream
Lightly grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix ground almonds or almond meal with flour, sugar, cocoa, cloves, cinnamon, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Push hard-cooked egg yolks through a sieve into the flour-almond mixture and whisk to combine.
Add the butter to the flour mixture. Toss to coat. Using clean hands or a wooden spatula, incorporate butter into flour mixture until it forms dime-size pieces. Make a well in the center and add the raw egg yolks, vanilla, and lemon zest. Mix until just combined. Gather dough and shape into two large discs. Lightly chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.
Remove one disc from the refrigerator and roll out between two sheets of wax or parchment paper until ¼ inch thick. Using a plate, pie dish, or 8-inch tart ring as a pattern, cut a round of dough 8 inches in diameter. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
Roll out the remaining dough disc between wax or parchment paper into a rectangle ¼ inch thick. Cut into strips ¼ inch wide. Make a border with some of the strips on the dough round, pressing firmly to make sure they are set. Alternatively, if dough is too soft, spoon into piping bag and pipe the border onto the dough round.
Fill shell with raspberry jam. Using most of the remaining strips, make a lattice across the top of the torte. Make a second border on top of the first using the last of the strips. Press down firmly with the tines of a fork. If a tart ring was used to shape torte, it can be placed back over torte to help hold its shape while it bakes. Chill torte for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the 1 remaining egg with the cream and brush onto lattice and border. Bake 35 minutes or until lightly browned.