It has started snowing in Berlin. The biting cold and early evenings mean I am spending a lot of time indoors, flexing my baking muscles. Cindy Mushet‘s Sur la table – The Art & Soul of Baking is becoming a serious contender for my favourite baking book. Even thought it’s an American publication.
I like the North American creative approach to all things baking related, but I can’t stand cup measurements or butter measurements given in spoons. I have been told that in the US, spoons are labeled on the butter packet but in Europe I have to google “spoon into grams” every time. And cups? Baking is an exact science, measuring things in cups is clumsy and messy.
Mushet is aware of all this and dedicates a fair few pages in the book praising the virtues of measuring out in ounces instead of cups. I want you to try this tart so I went to the trouble of converting ounces to grams for you. (My conversion is 1 ounce equals 28.35 grams and I round up to the nearest 5 grams.)
This Sour Cherry Linzer Tart is gorgeous to look at, relatively easy to make and oh so yummy.
It’s the smell, however, that will tug at your heart and make you fall in love with it. The crust is spiked with grated lemon and orange peel, peppered with ground cloves and cinnamon and freckled with ground hazelnuts and almonds. Instead of the typical raspberry jam filling. Mushet recommends you simmer dried sour cherries in cherry juice with two sticks of cinnamon and a vanilla pod until the cherries are plump.
Sour Cherry Linzer Tart (23 cm tart) from the Art & Soul of Baking
6 oz / 170g butter (softened to 18ºC)
5 1/4 oz / 150g sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 large orange
zest of 1 large lemon
6 1/2 oz /185g all purpose flour
1 1/2 oz / 40g whole natural almonds
1 oz / 30g whole hazelnuts
1 1/4 ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 oz / 450ml cherry or berry juice
1 3/4 oz / 50g sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 a vanilla bean
8 oz / 230g dried sour cherries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon water
1. For the filling. Combine the juice, sugar, dried cherries and cinnamon sticks in a small saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the pan, adding the pod as well. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and simmer until the cherries are plump and soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Pour the mixture through a fine meshed strainer into a medium bowl. Return the juices to the saucepan. Simmer the juices, whisk the cornstarch with the water until smooth and then add to the cherry juice to thicken, whisking constantly. When thick, pour over the cherries, stir to blend. Discard the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod. Cool completely. In this weather that means putting it on the balcony for 20 minutes.
2. Dough. Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric stand mixer (or handheld) until smooth and creamy. scrape down. Add the egg and egg yolk and blend well. Scrape down. Add the vanilla, orange zest, lemon zest and blend well.
3. Put the flour, almonds, hazelnuts, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder and salt in food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. If using a small food processor, do this in two stages. Add the dried ingredients to the butter mixture and blend on low until the ingredients are mixed.
4. Split the dough into two portions, one larger than the other. (The larger piece will make the base, the smaller the lattice). Wrap the larger portion in plastic and refrigerate for 35 to 40 minutes or until firm enough to press into the tart pan without it sticking to your fingers. Spoon the smaller part of the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip and set aside at room temperature.
-I usually do the above the day before and then finish making the tart the next day. If storing the sour cherry filling, place a piece of cling film on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.-
5. Press the larger portion of chilled dough evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Chill in the fridge or freezer for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 175ºC and place the rack on the lower third of the oven.
6. Spread the cherry filling over the shell. Use the dough in the bag to create a lattice pattern at 2.5 cm intervals.
7. Bake the tart for 40 to 45 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the dough is nicely browned.
8. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.