recently my husband and i celebrated our 4th anniversary. the event was caught up in the usual chaos of life, work, a trip to wisconsin, and my sister’s wedding. however, i still found the time to make our evening a little extraordinary. and now that the manic schedule of summer has given way to a strangely hot and humid calm of fall, i wanted to share this recipe with you.
i knew i wanted to make something with cherries, because that is one of my husband’s favorite fruits. but sour cherries had disappeared months ago, and while fresh cherries can still be found, there’s still the problem of pitting a bag of cherries on a work night. so i started to think about cherry preserves. and when i think about jam in desserts i tend to think about linzertorte. linzertorte is a magical tart with a crust made from roasted nuts, butter, and spices, and a filling usually made with raspberry jam. the rich, crumbly nut crust enlivened with the tart sweetness of jam makes it hugely popular with my family. it has become a thanksgiving staple for the past few years. so i decided to take a little liberty with the standard ingredients in order to simplify our evening and make use of the ingredients we had on hand. i added walnuts to the usual mix of hazelnuts and almonds, and i substituted cherry preserves for raspberry jam. i also added some slices of fresh peach because we had some ripening on the counter and i did not want them to go to waste. since the tart cooks for 50 minutes, there was plenty of time for the fresh peaches to simmer in the cherry preserves and achieve a delicious, melting texture by the time the tart was ready.
before you scroll down any further and see the daunting 10 steps of instructions, i want to offer some words of encouragement. this recipe is time-intensive, and the instructions are long mostly because of the steps required to assemble the tart crust. but if you follow the recipes step-by-step you will see that no individual step is technically difficult, and you will end up with a delicious, impressive-looking tart. also, keep in mind that any tears in the lattice strips can be easily patched with some extra dough, and by the time the tart is done baking you won’t see any difference.
feel free to use your favorite nuts in the crust and try different jams for filling. i’m sure there are many different combinations of nuts and jams that would make for a wide range of delicious and beautiful tarts. in fact, i may just have to try a whole line of linzertortes to find out for myself…
cherry-peach linzertorte (inspired by Cook’s Illustrated)
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp grated zest from 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
12 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups cherry preserves
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 peaches, blanched (see recipe), peeled, and sliced into thin crescents
1 tbsp heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp turbinado or demerara sugar
1. heat oven to 350 degrees. toast the nuts on a baking sheet until very lightly browned, about 8 minutes, stirring once in the middle. remove and cool the nuts to room temperature. leave the oven on.
2. grind the nuts, sugar, and salt in a food processor until finely chopped and mixed. add the lemon zest and pulse to combine. add the flour, cinnamon, and allspice and pulse again. scatter in the chopped butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with small bits of butter.
3. beat the egg and vanilla together in a small bowl, then add to the food processor while the machine is running. continue processing until the dough forms a large ball.
4. turn the dough ball onto a cutting board and press it together into a mound. then divide it into 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other. flatten each into a 5-inch disk and put the larger disk in the refrigerator. cut a piece of parchment paper to fit an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. spray the bottom and sides of the pan with nonstick spray, or grease with butter. then separate the bottom from the sides, cover the bottom with the parchment paper, and grease the paper. place the smaller disk of dough in the center, cover with plastic wrap, and roll out the dough until it almost covers the whole bottom. then drop the bottom into the ring of the pan and press the dough evenly until it’s flush with the sides. poke holes all around the dough with a fork. then set the pan on a baking sheet and bake until the dough just starts to brown, 15-18 minutes. remove the pan from the oven and let it cool to room temperature.
5. take a piece of dough about 1 1/2 inches in diameter from the larger disk and roll it into a long rope of about 3/8 inch diameter with your hands. place the rope against the side of the pre-baked tart bottom. repeat with additional pieces of dough until the entire wall of the tart pan has been lined. the use your thumb to gently press the dough against the side of the pan to about 5/8 inch height.
6. gather the remaining dough into a disk and roll out between 2 sheets of lightly-greased parchment paper until it is about 12 inches diameter and 1/8 inch thick. if the dough becomes too sticky to work with, place it in the refrigerator or freezer for 1-3 minutes until firm again. when it’s rolled out, remove the top layer of parchment paper and, with a ruler and sharp knife, cut the dough into 3/4-inch-wide strips (you need 10 strips, but make extras just in case). leave all the strips in place on the parchment paper. when all sliced, transfer the parchment paper to a baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for 20 until firm but not fully stiff.
7. meanwhile, stir the cherry preserves and lemon juice together in a small bowl. then spread most of the mixture evenly in the tart shell, leaving a small amount of spread in the bowl. add the peach slices to the bowl and toss to coat. then place the peach slices evenly around the tart and add the remaining spread.
8. remove the dough strips from the refrigerator or freezer. [note: when starting the lattice-top it helps to think of the pie as a clock and to use the numbers on a clock face to correctly position the strips of dough.] using a thin spatula or icing spatula, remove the longest strip and lay it across the center of the tart at 12 o’clock/6 o’clock position. using the second longest strip, place it at 2 o’clock and 8 o’clock. using two shorter strips, lay one at the left edge of the tart parallel to the first strip and one at the top edge of the tart parallel to the second strip. with two more short strips do the same at the right and bottom edges of the tart. now, simply place one more strip between each of the existing center and edge strips (four more strips in total). press lightly on any excess dough hanging over the edge of the tart pan to trim.
9. gently brush the strips with cream and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. bake the tart on a baking sheet until deep golden brown, about 50 minutes. cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack, up to 2 hours.
10. to serve, remove the outer tart pan ring. slide a thin spatula between the parchment paper and the crust to loosen the tart before sliding it onto a serving platter.
p.s. there will usually be some unused dough after you complete your tart’s lattice-top. feel free to drop these on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 12 minutes, or until lightly golden. they make for an excellent snack while you are waiting for your tart to cool!