Is there a more perfect cookie for winter than a Linzer? A warm dollop of scarlet jam sandwiched between two sugar-dusted butter cookies calls to mind a bright red cardinal perched on a snowy landscape. Better still: the traditionally Austrian cookies are as delicious as they are beautiful—instantly evoking ohhhhs and ahhhhs at any holiday party appearance they make.
"Baking is creative, scientific, a little bit magical, and a lot of fun." —@JaneHornby
would-be bakers," Hornby writes in the introduction. "It will help you discover (or rediscover) the joy of baking at home, and experience that unbeatably proud feeling: 'I made that.'"
Read on for Hornby's guide to making the perfect Linzer cookie.
Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus chilling
Baking time: 10 minutes per batch
Makes: About 22
For cookie dough:1½ sticks (¾ cup) soft butter, plus extra for greasing2/3 cup skinless shelled hazelnuts (or use almond meal, see tips below)½ cup superfine sugar1 egg1 tsp vanilla extract1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting¼ tsp salt½ tsp ground cinnamon1 small orange, grated zest only (optional)
For filling: 1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar¾ cup raspberry jam (or use Nutella or lemon curd)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets with butter, then line them with parchment paper.2. Put the nuts in a food processor with 1 tablespoon of the sugar, then pulse until finely ground. Pour them into a bowl.3. Separate the egg, then put the yolk in the processor bowl with the remaining sugar, the vanilla, and butter. Process the ingredients together until creamy and evenly mixer.4. Add the flour, salt, cinnamon, and ground nuts to the processor bowl. Finely grate in the orange zest, if using, then pulse until the ingredients form a soft dough ball. You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl down once or twice.5. Lightly dust the work surface with flour, turn out the dough onto it, then split it into 2 equal balls. Flatten each ball into a saucer-size disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 20 – 30 minutes, or until firm but not rock solid.6. Sprinkle more flour on the work surface, then get ready to roll. Press ridges into one of the disks of dough with a rolling pin (this stretches it without overworking it, which makes it tough). Turn the dough and repeat this ridging a few times, until it is about ¾ inch thick. If any cracks appear, pinch them together. Now roll the dough to about 1/8 inch thick.7. Using a 2½-inch fluted pastry cutter, stamp out 12 rounds. Next, using a small heart or star-shape cutter (or even the end of a wide icing tube to make a round hole), cut out shapes from the centers of half the cookies.8. Carefully lift the whole round cookies onto one baking sheet, and the cookies with the holes onto the other. Squish the remains of the dough together (taking care not to knead it, as this can make the dough tough), re-roll, and stamp out more cookies until you have filled the baking sheets.9. Bake the whole cookies for 10–11 minutes and the cut-out cookies for 9 minutes, or until they are pale golden and smell nutty. Let stand for 2 minutes, then lift onto cooling racks and let cool completely. Repeat with the second batch of dough.10. Use a fine-mesh sieve to dust the confectioners' sugar over the cut-out cookies. Spoon about 1 teaspoon jam over the whole cookies, then sandwich together with the cut-outs. The cookies will keep in an airtight container for 3–5 days and are best sandwiched on the day you’re going to eat them.
1. Don't Over Do ItNuts can quickly turn from finely ground to oily, clumpy, and unusable.Pulsing the blades and using a little sugar should avoid this.
2. No Processor? No problemUse ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons almond meal instead. Beat the yolk, sugar, vanilla, and butter in a large bowl, using a wooden spoon or an electric mixer, until pale and creamy. Work the rest of the ingredients into the mixture using a table knife, then knead briefly to make a smooth dough.