To be completely honest, I did not bake these cookies because they are a national dessert of Austria, but because they are a part of traditional holiday baking where I live as well. I even used my own (my mom’s, actually) recipe, without ever considering it might be anything more than just a recipe for the simplest kind of cookies I know. But then, while I was baking, I started wondering why exactly they’re called Linzer cookies. Well, I knew Linz is a city in Austria, well-known for its Linzertorte, but I really never thought of the fact that my cookies were just a smaller version of a Lizertorte and that they have every bit of the national dessert status as the cake does.
But that’s not all. Linzertorte is the dessert my mom made the most often when I was growing up. I knew immediately that I couldn’t go past Austria without making a Linzertorte with my mom, so I grabbed the opportunity the next time I was visiting and made the cake that my mom didn’t even know was from Austria (we don’t really call in Lizertorte around here). And what’s even more interesting, Linzertorte is thought to be the oldest-known cake in the world, dating as far back as 1653. Even I didn’t know that.
So I made two things from Austria, but none is what I originally had planned – I wanted to make Sachertorte. But I’m pretty sure that I’m not finished with Austria just yet.
Linzeraugen (Linzer Eyes)
- 250g flour
- 150g butter
- 100g sugar
- vanilla to taste
- 1 egg
- 100g ground almonds
- cinnamon to taste
- ½ grated lemon peel
- jam (current, raspberry, strawberry)
- powdered sugar for dusting
Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, until a firm ball of dough forms. Set it aside for 20-30 minutes to a cool place. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Roll the dough about 3mm thick and cut out different shapes, then cut out the centers of half the disks with a cutter in the shape of your choice. Re-roll scraps and repeat. Bake for about 10 minutes or until edges turn golden then cool on a wire rack.
Heat the jam (you can even add some rum) and spread the solid disks with a layer of the hot jam. Dust the lids with powdered sugar and then glue the two pieces together. I do it in this order because this way the center remains clean and stands out even more.
I use exactly the same recipe also for the cake, I just double the ingredients. The cake takes much less time to make, since you only roll out ½ of the dough, place it in a pan, spread the jam over it and cover the whole thing with another layer of dough. You get the classic look by rolling the remaining dough into a long rope and then take the pieces of rope and place them around the outer edge of the cake where the ends of the strips meets the bottom crust, and create a kind of a web.