A baking comparable to the Linzer Torte has already been found in ancient Egypt and cakes with ingredients similar to the Linzer Torte were already made in the Roman Empire. For a long time, almond cakes were one of the luxury foods that only the nobility could afford.
The oldest recipe for the Linzer Torte comes from the 17th century. In 1619 a „Mandl Dortten“ was served for the first time. Countess Anna Margarita Sagramosa’s cookbook from 1653 contains four recipes with the term “Linz” in the title. The first printed cookbook with a recipe for the Linzer Torte is the baroque “New Saltzburg Cook Book” from 1718 by Conrad Hagger, the royal Saltzburg “court, city and landscape cook”.
The „Good and sweet Lintzer Taig“ consists of butter, almonds, flour, sugar, eggs, lemon peel and „The plaited Lintzer Dorte“ is decorated with a grid, a surface covering parquet, through the free areas of which the red jam shines. Due to the lattice decoration, the underlying volume appears as small, narrow diamonds, equilateral parallelograms, squares with four sides of equal length. A rhombus is also known as diamonds, one of the four colors in the French card game.
The characteristic diamonds pattern of the Linzer Torte symbolically represents an ideogram, a stylized image that can stand for the progressively crisscrossing passage of the moon. Rue is a plant whose name comes from the Latin word „rūta“. Even the Middle High German word „rūte“ is transferred to the radiant, symmetrical four-part flower shape of the rue. It is used as a stylistic element in coats of arms, the design of which is based on simple geometric structures. On a diamonds shield, which is used in French and English heraldry for unmarried and widowed women, the diamonds is on top. Such a diamonds shield is called a ladies shield.
For a nice lattice on the Linzer Torte, roll small amounts of dough into snakes the size of a small finger and place the dough snakes crossed on the cake’s jam. In historical cookbooks you can find artistic patterns for cake lattices that are reminiscent of Gothic tracery or Moorish windows. In Linz, the grating is often applied with a grape sprayer or a piping bag, which can take a lot of strength.
Due to the high proportion of butter, almonds, sugar and lemons as well as spices from overseas that were added later, the Linzer Torte was mostly reserved for the rich population for a long time. With the establishment of the first beet sugar factory in Prussia in 1801, the Linzer Torte was rapidly spreading. The cake became accessible to large sections of the population.
By extracting sugar from beets, Prussia also became independent of the import of cane sugar from overseas, which was made difficult by Napoleon’s continental barrier. The crusaders brought the sugar made from sugar cane, the „white gold“, to Europe around 1100. However, sugar was a luxury item. 1 kg of sugar had about the exchange value of two beef ox. Most of the population had to sweeten their food with honey or syrup.
Archduke Franz Karl Joseph of Austria, son of Emperor Franz II./I. and father of the future Emperor Franz Joseph I, stayed in Linz on the way to Bad Ischl and took a Linz cake with him. The cake recipe came to the USA as early as 1856 because the Upper Austrian Franz Hölzhuber from Gründberg near Steyr, who went to Milwaukee as a bandmaster, first had to make his way there as a confectioner.
Clarified butter is crystallized milk fat, whereas butter is a „solid emulsion“ of water in liquid milk fat. Due to its low water content, clarified butter can be kept much longer than butter at room temperature. Clarified butter is used to preserve fresh butter.
To make clarified butter, butter is carefully heated and kept liquid until the coagulated protein settles in the foam and on the bottom and the water evaporates. Since pure clarified butter contains no water or protein, it can be heated very strongly, whereby the butter aroma is retained.
Butter, almonds, sugar, flour and fine spices were used for the dough, with lemon peel being the only flavor carrier of the Linzer Torte for a long time. Baking was done without leavening agents, i.e. substances that develop carbon dioxide and thereby loosen the dough.
The older recipes differ from the younger ones in that the dough contained clarified butter and a butter tile was also hammered into the dough 5 times, a preparation form that is more like the preparation of a puff pastry than a shortcrust pastry. In addition, the cake was prepared as a so-called „Schuessel-Dorten“. That is, the dough was placed in a bowl, filled with fruit, put a dough lattice on top and baked not too hot. The quince was the preferred filling for the oldest Linz cakes.
The quince is one of the oldest types of fruit in the world and owes its name to the Greek city of Chania, which is located in the northwest of the island of Crete. The quince was the sacred fruit of Aphrodite and stood for fertility and a long life. During the occupation of Crete, the Romans are said to have taken quinces with them to the Roman Empire.
In old texts, the Linzer Torte made from light dough is mainly found, it was only later that the dark Linzer dough became popular. In contrast to the light variant, this contained unpeeled almonds as well as additional spices such as cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg. The nutmeg appeared in recipes for Linzer Torte as early as 1740, but over time it took a back seat in favor of cinnamon, cloves and new spices.
Johann-Konrad-Vogel-Strasse, which runs in Linz from Dametzstrasse to Martin-Luther-Platz, in whose catchment area there is also a Linz cake maker, is named after the Franconian confectioner Johann Conrad Vogel who married a Linz confectioner in 1823 and who was long considered the inventor of the Linzer Torte.
The ingredients of the Linzer Torte by Johann Conrad Vogel are: butter, sugar, flour, grated nutmeg, grated lemon peel, rum, currant jam.
Preparation: Press two thirds of the shortcrust pastry into a cake tin, fill with the currant jam, cover with the dough lattice and bake for 50 minutes at 170 degrees. Let it rest for at least 3 days.
In this cake, made according to the recipe by Johann Conrad Vogel for lovers of crumbly cakes, almonds or nuts are missing although the almond was included in the recipes of the Linzer Torte until the end of the 19th century. It was not until the turn of the 20th century that hazelnuts were used instead of almonds.
During the First World War there were so-called „War Linz cakes“. These contained roasted oatmeal instead of the nuts.
In 2009, the year in which the Upper Austrian capital Linz on the Danube became European Capital of Culture, the first day of the Linzer Torte took place, during which a baking competition took place, in which 133 Linz cakes were judged by a jury of experts. No Linz cake was like the other.
500 g butter
250 g sifted powdered sugar
50 g finely chopped aranzini
1 pinch of salt
120 g grated walnuts
450 g of hazelnuts roasted and grated
330 g sifted flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
This Linzer Torte is prepared as follows: Butter, sugar, eggs and aranzini are stripped together and mixed with the remaining ingredients. The dough is left to rest in a cool place. Then two thirds of the dough are placed in a cake tin and coated with currant jam. A grid is spread over the cake from the last third of the dough.
What is striking about this recipe is that a pinch of salt has been added and of the usual spices only cinnamon is included. The finely chopped aranzini, candied, diced peel of bitter oranges, are already described in „The 100 classic dishes of Austria“ by Ewald Plachutta (editor), and Christoph Wagner (editor) for the Linzer Torte.
A Linzer Torte is a cake made of stirred shortcrust pastry, a so-called Linz dough, with a high proportion of nuts that contains a simple filling of jam, usually currant jam, and is traditionally made with a dough lattice as the top layer.
Linz cakes in a different way, Waltraud Faißner, Library of the Upper Austrian State Museum, Linz 2010, Verlag Bibliothek der Provinz, A-3970 Weitra, Austria
A Linzertorte costs between 7.40 € and 25.30 € in the k. u. k. Hofbäckerei at Pfarrgasse 17, in 4020 Linz, Austria. At the cake maker Heuschober on Martin-Luther-Platz in Linz, a Linzertorte costs between € 15 and € 28. The cakes have a diameter of 12 to 24 cm. In the Jindrak confectionery at Herrenstrasse 22-24, in A-4020 Linz, an 18 cm Linzertorte in a wooden box costs € 22.90, and a 10 cm cake € 11.60.
Red currant jam is the preferred jam on the Linzer Torte. Currant jam (currant jelly) is spread with a spoon on the cake base, which is two centimeters thick, but not all the way to the edge. Red currants with their fresh sourness go well with the lavishly used spices and their redness contributes to the decorative appearance of the Linzer Torte.