A Brief History
The city of Linz (3rd largest city in Austria) has a rich history with pastries and confections. The famous Linzer torte is a tart with a rich buttery dough made up of almonds, lemon zest and cinnamon. The Linzer torte is traditionally stuffed with black currant preserves and topped with additional lattice dough. Linzer cookies use the same ingredients as the torte, but in cookie form. The oldest known recipe for Linzer torte goes back to 1653. It was not until 1853 when an Austrian baker who immigrated to the United States brought the cookie recipe and the Linzer cookie found its way into our Christmas and Valentine’s Day traditions.
While black currants are the Austrian tradition, raspberry preserves are most common in the US. That said, most any variety of preserve or jam you enjoy will make this cookie delicious. I’ve tried Lingonberry, Little Scarlet Strawberry, Apricot, Raspberry, Marion Blackberry, Wild Blueberry, Lemon Curd, Morello Cherry, Loganberry and Damson Plum. All of them are delicious and worth trying. These cookies are easy to make, so use the highest quality ingredients you can find to bring out the best flavors.
Austrian Linzer Kekse (Linzer Cookies)
- ¾ cup butter, unsalted softened Use high quality butter like Plugra, Straus or Kerrygold.
- ½ cup sugar, granulated/caster
- 1 whole lemon zested
- 1 yolk egg
- 1 tsp vanilla, extract
- 1 cup flour, all-purpose
- ¾ cup flour, almond
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ¾ cup raspberry jam, seedless or your favorite jam
- 2 tbsp or more sugar, confectioners/icing
In a large mixing bowl, add the all-purpose/plain flour. Most modern milled flour does not need to be sifted, but if you are using an artisan flour, or milling your own, sift the flour if there are lumps.
Add the almond flour and salt to the bowl and mix both flours to combine thoroughly. Reserve.
Add softened butter to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on low. As the butter whips and becomes softer, add the sugar to the butter and beat on medium for 2-3 minutes. This blends the sugar into the butter. Periodically stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to fold the butter over, scraping the bottom of the bowl. Be sure it is mixing evenly. Add the egg yolk, vanilla and lemon zest to the butter/sugar mixture. Continue mixing and scraping the bowl until ingredients are well incorporated. You are now ready to mix in the reserved dry ingredients.
Add the flour mixture in increments. I like to use a small 1/3 cup to add the flour in batches. Once the flour is absorbed add another 1/3 cup and mix in on the low setting. Continue until all of the dry mix is added to the butter mixture. Periodically, stop and scrap down the sides of you mixing bowl and make sure everything is mixing thoroughly.
Once the dough has just come together in the mixer, turn it out into a mixing bowl and knead the dough until uniform in consistency. (This prevents it being overworked in the electric mixer.) Knead by hand with disposable gloves. Form the dough into one or two logs and store in plastic ziplocks or snuggly covered in plastic wrap. Rest the dough for 2-3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. This resting period will allow the gluten in the flour to relax and become soft again. Reserve. (Note* Because of the high butter content in these cookies, the dough needs to return to room temperature before you attempt to roll it out. This can take an hour or more. The dough should soft.)
Prepping the Cookies
Before rolling out the cookies, prepare the work surface with a thin coating of flour to prevent sticking.
Place the dough on the work surface and use your hands to make a vertical rectangle out of the dough. Before rolling, coat the rolling pin with flour (using your hands) to prevent sticking. Begin rolling out the dough into a long vertical rectangle. The edges can be rough so don't worry about making it perfect. Try this special rolling pin that can set the thickness of the dough when rolling it out. Use ¼ inch/6.4mm for the these cookies. If they are rolled out too thin (⅛ inch /3.2mm), the cookies will be too fragile.
Take a Linzer cookie cutter and dip it into plain flour. Next, make an even number of cookie impressions (using the bottom, whole cookie cutter) on about ½ the rolled out cookie dough. Periodically dip the cookie cutter back into the the flour to keep it from sticking. Place the first shapes of the dough on a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet pan. Then use the center punch cookie cutter with the desired shape and repeat the process to make the top portion of the cookie. Once all the imprints are complete, gather the scraps of cookie dough together and roll out again to create a new rectangle. Repeat the process.
Cover the cut out cookie dough with plastic wrap and place into a refrigerator for 1-2 hours before baking. This is an important step for the cookies to maintain their shape.
Baking the Cookies
When it's time to roll out the cookie dough, remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow the dough to warm up to room temperature, about 1 hour.
Preheat an oven to 350°F/175°C.
Unwrap the plastic from the chilled cookie shapes and place the baking sheet in the preheated oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes just before they brown.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the sheet pan over a wire cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before you attempt to lift them. The cookies will be too soft to handle when they come out of the oven, but will firm up after they are allowed to cool. Continue doing this until all the cookie halves are cooked and cooled.
Assembling the Cookies
Once the cookies are completely cooled, add 1/2 tsp of raspberry jam (or preferred flavor). Gently spread out to cover the cookie. Do this to all of the bottom halves of the cookies.
Add a few spoonfuls of powdered/confection's/icing sugar to a fine mesh sieve, and dust over the top halves the cookies with the shapes in the center until all are covered.
Match the top halves to the bottom halves of the cookies and you are done! With practice, these cookies can be made quickly. Just remember to allow the dough to rest, and chill the cookies once they are cut so they will retain their shape while cooking. Enjoy!