Are these rich, shortbread-like nutty pastries with their fruit filling, topped with a sweet powdery cookie called Linzer Tarts or Tortes … or Linzer Cookies … or are they Linzer Tart/Torte Cookies? Could they also be Linzer Augen or Linzer Eyes?  It’s so confusing.  I’ve looked all over the ‘web’ and I can’t seem to get a definitive answer.  I believe Linzer Tortes are the large lattice-topped, pie-shaped pastries, cut into wedges and served wit a dollop of cream.  Now to find out …

As with so many other dishes, the Linzer Torte is named for the city from where it was invented … Linz in Austria.  “Torte” is German for ‘a rich cake made with eggs, flour and nuts’.

Linz, Austria

According to Wikipedia, the Linzer Torte is said to be the oldest ‘cake’ in the world.  I think I’ve read that statement about most of the desserts I’ve researched. Although with an original recipe dating as far back as 1653, it does qualify as ‘old’.

This rich, fruity dessert was a hidden gem in Austria until a pastry chef started mass producing it around 1820.  From Austria the recipe was brought to the U.S. in 1856 by a young Austrian, Franz Holzlhuber.  It seems a very artistic and talented Franz had a job promised him in Wisconsin, so he packed up his things and traveled west. Unfortunately, between Austria and Wisconsin, not only did he lose his luggage, he lost the job. With nothing else to lose at that point, Franz went to work as a baker in Milwaukee and introduced America to the Linzer Torte.

Today, if you search online for Linzer Cookies or Tarts, you’ll see them referenced as Christmas treats.  I’m not sure why.  Could it be that they take a little more time and effort to make, and the only time we put any effort into baking is during the holidays?  Yes, these cookies take a bit more time, but not that much, and they are so worth it.  (William Sonoma sells a dozen of these cookies for $49.95 …. yikes!!)

My shortcut, unlike Martha Stewart’s recipe, is to use almond meal … which is simply ground almonds. If you want to use hazelnut meal, or any other ground nuts, feel free.  They are usually available in better grocery stores.

Preheated oven 350°.  Makes approximately 24 2-1/2″ cookies.
1 cup ground almond meal
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of one lemon
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 jar good quality raspberry jam (or any other flavor)
confectioners sugar to sprinkle

No need to preheat the oven until later because these cookies are easier to handle if the dough is chilled for an hour.
In a large bowl, sift and thoroughly mix together the dry ingredients.  In your stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy – about 3 to 4 minutes.

Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Reduce the speed of your mixer, or by hand, add the dry ingredients and the lemon zest.  Do not overmix or the cookies will be tough.

Dump the dough onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball.  Cut the dough into two even-sized portions.  Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate about an hour.  Now preheat the oven to 350° and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.  No greasing required.

On a lightly floured pastry board, roll one portion of the chilled dough to about 1/8″ or 1/4″ thick.  The thickness actually depends upon you.  The thinner the cookie, the more crisp (and the more cookies).  I like them a bit thicker – 1/4″.

Using a 2″ to 3″ cookie cutter, cut the dough and place the cookies on the parchment-lined sheets. Flouring the cookie cutter helps to keep it from sticking.   Using a smaller cookie cutter – circles, hearts, stars, whatever you’d like – cut out the center from half of the cookies.  Remember, you are making tops and bottoms.  Gather up the cuttings and knead them back into the left-over dough and continue rolling and cutting.

Bake at 350° for about 10 to 12 minutes, until just cooked through but not browned. Gently transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.  Now roll, cut and bake the second batch of dough. While the cookies are baking, you might want to put the jam in a sieve to release any excess moisture. As Mary Berry says, ‘there’s nothing worse than soggy bottoms’.

When all the dough is baked and thoroughly cooled, turn the bottoms over so that you are assembling bottoms to bottoms.

Use a sieve to sift the confectioners sugar generously over the cookie tops before assembling the cookie.  Spread the jam on the bottom half of the bottom cookie.  Don’t be overly generous with the jam or it will ooze out the sides.  Place the top cookie on top of the bottom and you are done!

Rich, fruity, nutty whether you call them Linzer Tarts or Tortes or Cookies or Augen doesn’t really matter.  What does matter is that whatever you do decide to call them, I’m calling them absolutely delicious!!!

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References:  Wisconsin Historic Society, Wikepedia



Whenever we are in Darlington, the first place I have to go is to The Black Olive.  This tiny, little patisserie has the most delicious baked goods I’ve ever had.  Each morning they fill the window with the delicacies of the day …. freshly baked and delicious!   Like children staring into a toy shop window, we stand there and point to “which one shall we try today?”  My favorite has to be the classic Bakewell Tart with its rich shortcrust pastry, raspberry preserves and almond frangipane filling.  (Please do not confuse this rich delicacy with the mass-produced packaged tarts which are covered in overly-sweet white icing, topped with a maraschino cherry, sold in all the supermarkets.)  I had to find out more about this dessert.  Where did it come from, this raspberry almond tart called “Bakewell”?

The Black Olive, Darlington, Cty. Durham

The Black Olive, Darlington, Cty. Durham

It seems this dessert originated as a ‘pudding’ from the village of Bakewell, which is in the breathtakingly beautiful Peak District of England.   The Bakewell website states “In the 19th century a cook at the Rutland Arms was baking a jam tart but misunderstood the recipe and so Bakewell Pudding was created.”  Apparently, the inexperienced cook at the Rutland Arms Hotel was to make the very popular strawberry tart for a nobleman who had ordered it, but misunderstood Mrs. Greaves instructions and beat together sugar, butter and eggs and then poured it over the fruit before baking.  The guest so loved the new version of the tart that Mrs. Greaves added it to the menu.   Local history says the recipe was left by Mrs. Greaves in her will to Mr. Radford who, in turn, passed the recipe on to the Bloomers Shop, which still exists in Bakewell.

Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management Published 2011

Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management
Published 2011

As with any legend, there’s always a question with regard to authenticity.  We do know, however, that the recipe is thought to have first appeared in 1845 in the cookbook  A MODERN COOKERY for PRIVATE FAMILIES,  and described as ‘served on all holiday occasions’.  At that time, the recipe was a classic pudding and did not have a pastry crust or almonds … both of which seemed to have been incorporated before 1861 when the recipe appeared again in the BOOK OF HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT.

Don’t be afraid to make your own Bakewell Tart.  Yes, it is a bit time consuming, but it is well worth the effort.  Again, this is not the overly sweet supermarket version.
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1-1/2 cups flour
pinch salt
1 stick ice cold butter, cut in pieces
3-4 tbl ice cold water
1 tsp lemon juice

I use a food processor to make pastry which makes it so-o-o easy, but if you don’t have time, just purchase a good quality brand at the supermarket.  To the flour/salt cut in the ice cold butter til crumbly.  Don’t overwork it.  You should be able to see chunks of butter.  Quickly add the ice water/lemon juice til dough comes together.  Dump the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead quickly into a smooth ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 15 minutes.  The colder the butter, the flakier the crust.

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Roll the pastry out to fit into a 9″ round tart pan.  Line the pastry with baking beans and chill the dough again.  Meanwhile, make the filling.

1 stick butter, room temp.
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temp.
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
almond extract (optional)
3/4 cup fruit jam (raspberry, strawberry, cherry)
3/4 cup fresh berries (raspberries, strawberries, etc.) optional
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Beat the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time.  Stir in the flour and ground almonds and a tsp of almond extract (if using).

Blind bake the dough for 12 to 15 minutes til lightly brown.  Remove the beans and let cool. Turn the oven temp down to 350° F.

Spread the jam over the bottom of the pastry crust.  If you are adding fresh fruit, scatter them evenly over the jam.   I’ve used cherries, raspberries and strawberries … all worked beautifully.  Pour the filling over the fruit and spread evenly.   Scatter the sliced almonds over the filling.  Bake at 350° F for 25 to 30 minutes until the filling is set and golden brown.

Let cool and dust with confectioners sugar if desired.

bakewell tart

Resources:, Bakewell Online, Paul Hollywood’s British Baking, Porter’s English Cookery Bible