Sour Cherry Linzer Tart

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.

The dough is pressed into the tin instead of rolled, the sour cherry is spooned in, some reserved dough is piped on top and the whole thing goes into the oven and makes your home smell of Christmas.

Which reminds me, I have another gadget to push on you: a microplane zester.  Your days of using your body to squash your lemon against the dull teeth of a box grater could be behind you. 

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.

11 Responses to Sour Cherry Linzer Tart

  1. Sylee says:

    So beautiful! I admire your ability to do meticulous baking with a little one underfoot. If you like the Linzer combination you should check out the Linzer cookies at Cafe Richter in Charlottenburg (Giesebrechtstraße 22) — so nutty and tart and just right!

  2. I am an American baker, and agree with you that baking measurements should be by weight, not spoons and cups. I also wish that America used the metric system, not pounds and ounces, for more precise measurements, but I may have a long time to wait to see that come to pass. In the meantime, I use my kitchen scale and convert recipes to metric weight.

    By the way, are you aware of the baking books by Rose Levy Beranbaum? She wrote The Cake Bible, The Bread Bible, The Pie and Pastry Bible, and Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. Not only does she have superb recipes, but she gives amounts by weight, including metric. Rose has a very different method for mixing cake batter, which results in the most tender cakes I have ever eaten. I have learned how to convert regular cake recipes to her method for more tender cakes. I have baked cakes all my life, but it wasn’t until I bought The Cake Bible that my cakes reached a new level of perfection.

    Her pie crust, which uses cream cheese and vinegar, is my new favorite. But your pastry above looks very interesting and I will have to try it.


    • Hi Kathleen, I know of Rose Levy Beranbaum but I don’t own any books by her. Although I will soon…: ) Which one do you recommend? I do love tarts and pies - but then the cake one looks good too!

      • I recommend The Cake Bible. If you are a cake baker, you must have it. I do not have her newest cake book, Rose’s Heavenly Cakes, but I have looked through it and it is gorgeous. Pies are not really my forte. I finally found one great pastry recipe (Rose’s cream cheese pastry) and I’m sticking to it, but her Pie and Pastry Bible is really good from what I have heard. Let me know what you get. Maybe it will be a Christmas present…?


  3. Tes says:

    Your photos are so stunning. The tart recipe sounds really simple and delightful.
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Sasa says:

    Preaching to the choir - microplane rulz ok ;P My friend’s mum makes awesome Linzer Torte (it’s Austrian!) but I’ve never made it myself - thanks for converting ^_^

  5. Pingback: Christmas Cookies 1, Aniseplatzchen (Carole Walter) « foodieinberlin's Blog

  6. Lisa says:

    my scales (soehnle) convert ounces to grams and vice versa. they were about 30 euros, available at any department store, and as for temperature conversion: I have a table written on my fridge with a permanent marker…

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