Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ernestine C. Bartlett

Just a quick note on the passing of my colleague, Ernestine Bartlett, obituary here


She, like me, was a patent attorney at Philips Electronics North America Corporation.  We worked together for at least 10 years.

She was always beautiful, elegant, warm, and charming.  She was a classic lady, the sort of person everyone liked.   In her legal advice she was well-informed, cautious, conservative, and by the book.

Gone too soon.

Friday, September 14, 2012

My Viennese grandmother's recipe for Linzertorte

Most of the time, if I can ever find Linzertorte in restaurants or bakeries – and it’s hard to find because real Austrian cooking is very rare in the U.S. — it’s not at all the right stuff.  It is very good, when made correctly.  If made with an ordinary pie dough, as I sometimes have had it, it’s just a cobbler.  A cobbler is not a Linzertorte.

For myself, I no longer make it.  It requires ground almonds in the dough, and no one in my family other than me is willing to eat nuts, and I don’t eat desserts at all any more, so I hope some of you out there will be able to enjoy it. 


Please note measurements are given in weights in this recipe, which is common in European recipes.  The weights were originally metric, but my mother (who was a proper American WASP of the old school) converted them to English measures, so that we could make them in the United States.  The way we measured ingredients — which are commonly measured in cups in the United States — is that we would put a paper plate on a small postal scale.  Then the postal scale had to be readjusted to zero, with the paper plate on it, so that it would give correct readings.  Then we would sift or place the ingredients onto the paper plate.  Actually we used a separate paper plate for each ingredient that needed to be measured. 

Alternatively, if you had a digital postal scale, I suppose you would have to subtract the weight of the paper plate from the total weight in order to get the proper weight of ingredients.  Nowadays, a food scale can be zeroed down to ignore the weight of a plate.

I seem to recall that this recipe may actually have made more than one Linzertorte, possibly one and a half.  It may depend on the size of the pie plate or cake pan that you use or how thick you make the crust.

  • ten ounces all-purpose flour, sifted
  • ten ounces butter
  • 5 ounces granulated sugar, sifted
  • five ounces ground almonds
  • ½  ounces unsweetened or semisweet chocolate, grated  [I think Linzertorte does not necessarily have to have chocolate in it.  But I fail to see why anyone would want to skip the chocolate.]
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • juice of a whole lemon
  • peel of the same lemon, using just the thin yellow part, not the white part, grated or hashed
  • 2 egg yolks
  • one jar fruit preserves, preferably raspberry or apricot

The chocolate must be semisweet or bitter.  On no account should milk chocolate be used.  The chocolate needs to be grated.

If the almonds are not already ground, they should be covered with boiling water.  Then let them stay awhile in the water until the peels come off easily.  Then grind them.

Cream butter and sugar together.
Then add eggs and seasonings.
Mix the flour in in parts

All these ingredients have to be kneaded  (My grandmother said either on the kitchen sideboard or on a special wooden board.  I’m not sure why she added this.  I don’t see why you couldn’t knead it on the table, but you might want to use wax paper under as it can get a bit messy when soft, while you’re kneading it.)

When you feel that the paste is ready  (well blended), you wrap it in cloth and put it in an icebox for at least two hours.  You can also make it the day before you bake.  Indeed, I seem to recall that, since the recipe made more than one Linzertorte, there was often a ball of dough left over in the refrigerator for a second one another day.

You need a rolling pin and a greased pie plate (My grandmother said “cake plate,” but her English was not so very good, so I suppose she really meant “pie plate.”  A pie plate was certainly what my mother used.)  Roll out the dough to about a quarter of an inch thick (actually my grandmother did not say how thick, but this is my recollection from when I made it), being careful not to let it warm up.  You can measure a piece that fits in the bottom of the pan, by tracing around bottom of the pan on the table with a knife.  Put the bottom in the pie plate.  Then you need to use a part of the dough to make a rim a little less than an inch all around the sides and sitting on the bottom part of the dough.

Then you spread the preserves all over with a knife.

On top of that, you put a grid made of dough, with each individual bar being about a finger wide, and thin, thinner than the bottom.  You start out with a long vertical piece across the middle of the pie plate making shorter parallel vertical ones to the sides.  Then you cut small strips to go horizontal.  The horizontal strips should not overlap the vertical ones, but should just be set between them.

Bake in a medium oven for about three-quarters of an hour. 

Normally this is to be served slightly warm or at room temperature, not chilled, but not piping hot either.


Please let me know if you made this or need help making it.  You can contact me on twitter @AnneBarschall or instagram @barschall


Addendum 230309:

I have found that one can take shortcuts and still get a great result.  I can microwave the unsweetened chocolate, rather than grating it.  I can buy raw almond butter, albeit not blanched, and avoid grating the almonds.  I can microwave the butter and then stir the sugar in -- rather than crushing it in.  This sort of thing saves a lot of time.

Also, I think it's best to make it in a 10" pie plate.  If I recall correctly, it then makes just one torte.