Thursday, August 19, 2010

Postmodern Apricot Linzer Torte

So this was the first of many baking firsts, I hope.  The first time I made a Linzer Torte (or ate one for that matter), the first time I baked with almond flour, and the first time I made a lattice crust.

Double crusts kind of intimidate me.  

There I said it.  I've been making crumble top crusts on my pies for years because I'm afraid of what kind of disaster I could create trying desperately to succeed at a double crust.

The lattice crust seemed like a good bridge.  You cut that dough into strips and just lay it across the pie.  Simple as...pie?  Hmmm, not quite.  This particular dough is very delicate and that particular day was a little warmer than the ideal for making a pie crust. 

 First of all the dough recipe doesn't even call for refrigeration before rolling out, unless you won't be using right away.  I did refrigerate but figured that even 30 minutes would be fine since it didn't require any chilling.  Rolling the dough out, went fine, until I tried to transfer it to the buttered tart dish.  I started with a nice round of dough and ended up with a pile of dough askew in the dish.  Plan B - press dough into tart dish.

Plan B fails and I start to curse almond pastry dough.  At this point I decided that the best thing to do would be to put the pastry dough down and walk away.  I'm taking my own advice that I give to patients that are having a panic attack or frustrated at a crying baby.  Put down the baby and walk into the other room.

The pie crust chills in the fridge and I chill in the bedroom.  After 10-15 minutes, I take a deep breath and try to make nice with this crying pastry dough.  There, there pastry dough, you can go evenly into the tart pan and then leave me enough for a lattice crust.

Almond dough pressed in to tart pan, not so pretty but functional
Laying it down at that point actually goes fairly smoothly.  Then I add the almond cream and apricot puree and set out for a beautiful lattice crust.

I realize that not only am I having trouble due to how delicate this dough is, but also I cannot cut in a straight line!  There are several cycles here of refrigerate, roll out, flour rolling pin, roll out, cut, attempt to place strip, strip breaks, throw strip of dough angrily on pastry board.

OK, it wasn't THAT bad.  I did have several strips of dough break and did refrigerate in the middle once.  And it is true that I cannot cut in a straight line.

But I think it actually had a little more character that way - like I cut different size strips on purpose.  My Linzer Torte is Postmodern.  It rejects other lattice crusts' perfection.
Pre-baking, Post egg wash
Even though this Linzer Torte had an attitude, it turned out delicious.  I loved the almond filling with a touch of apricot preserves, and the trouble making crust?  Delicate and actually so yummy that I could help myself from nibbling on the crumbs left behind in the pan.

And this is what happens when you bring Postmodern Apricot Linzer Torte into work.

Postmodern Apricot Linzer Torte
Adapted from Baking (p.209) by James Peterson 

Pastry dough
*  2/3 c almond flour
* 1 2/3 c cake flour
* 1/2 c plus 2 Tbsp cold butter
* 3/4 c confectioners' sugar
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1 egg, beaten
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
Almond cream
* 1 1/2 c almond flour
* 1/2 c butter
* 1/2 c plus 2 Tbsp sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 egg yolk
Apricot filling
* heaping 1 c apricot preserves (you can make your own by following this simple apricot puree)
Egg wash
*1 egg, whisked
*1/4 tsp salt

To make almond pastry dough:  (Can also be made in a food processor.)
Cut butter into small cubes.  In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, cake flour, butter, sugar, and salt.  Toss together by hand and place in freezer for approximately 10 minutes.

Remove the bowl and mix in the butter by pinching it with your finger tips until there are no pieces of butter bigger than a pea.  Add egg and vanilla, mix in with a spoon.  Now work the dough by hand, kneading and folding until it just comes together.  It may be "a ragged mess", but James Peterson says that's OK.

Flatten dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make almond cream:  Combine butter and sugar with hand mixer until smooth.  Add in egg and egg yolk, one at a time, beating in well after each. Stir in almond flour until it is well incorporated.  Refrigerate covered until ready to use (up to 3 days in the freezer).

Once the above preparations are done, butter a 9-11 inch fluted tart pain and preheat the oven to 350F.
Remove pastry dough from fridge and roll out on a clean, flat, well floured surface (if you have a marble pastry board - use it).  You want the dough to roll out to approximately 2 inches larger than your tart pan.

Now, ideally, if all the elements are correct, you should be able to line your tart pan with the dough easily, but it is possible you could wind up with sticky, delicate dough and have to press it in like I did.  Either way, cut off the excess, form into a ball, and refrigerate until ready to use for lattice crust.  Place the tart shell in the fridge as well for about 10 minutes.

Roll out the extra pastry dough into a rectangle that is about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut six 1/2 inch wide strips that are about 9 inches long.  Place strips on the torte with about 3/4 inch in between each strip.  Cut another 6 strips and place these diagonally over the first set to create a lattice top.  Cut the ends of the strips off so that they fit on top of the torte.

Make an egg wash, using one egg whisked with 1/4 tsp salt.  Brush egg wash on top of lattice crust, taking care not to get any on apricot filling.

Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 hour or until golden brown.


  1. Babies and pies are
    similar, but only one
    goes in the oven.

  2. This is true, I'm glad you've learned something from my years of midwife-ing. I guess I should have elaborated on the differences between pies and babies. You can put both down and walk into the other room if you need a break. You always have to come back to the crying baby after you collect yourself though. With the pie, if you are really at your wit's end, you can just start over. Not so much with a baby...

  3. Can you shake the pie? I'm fuzzy on that. I'm like 99% sure that shaking the baby is wrong, but I don't know if that translates to the pie.

  4. I love the haikus, Partner in Crime.