The Austrian Linzer torte is a traditional holiday dessert featuring two layers of tender
hazelnut- and almond-enhanced dough—one layer serving as the torte’s base and the
other as an enchanting lattice design—with a slightly tart red currant or raspberry filling that complements the sweet, spiced dough. Although the word “torte” means “cake,” recipes for Linzer tortes are decidedly more tart-like than cake-like, and they date to at least 1653, making it the oldest known cake in the world. For more than 300 years, Linzer tortes have been the pride and joy of Linz, a small town along the Danube River in northern Austria. Like many longstanding cultural and culinary traditions, its exact origins are a mystery.
The components of our Linzer Torte couldn’t be easier to prepare. A buttery, nut-enriched crust comes together quickly in a stand mixer, and the filling of fruit preserves is something you can easily buy. Making this holiday torte might seem intimidating, but we’ve made the process effortless. The dough is delicate, so we pat it into the tart pan, and as for the lattice, we roll the dough between two pieces of wax paper and cut the strips on wax paper to make it easier to handle and transfer the dough. The Linzer Torte can be served at room temperature the day it’s baked, but it’s also wonderful after a night in the refrigerator, making it a perfect make-ahead dessert.
Join us for Baking School with Williams Sonoma on Monday, December 11, 2023 for a virtual baking class demonstrating how to make this recipe!
For easier viewing or printing at home, download the pdf of this lesson here!
Excellent recipes require wonderful ingredients. Here’s how our recipe’s ingredients contribute to making the very best Linzer Torte.
ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR: All-purpose flour has a protein content of 10% to 12%, so the crust has enough gluten structure to hold together while still allowing the dough to bake into a melt-in-your-mouth crust.
HAZELNUT FLOUR AND ALMOND FLOUR: Hazelnut flour has a distinctive sweetness and more of a buttery flavor than almond flour, which has a mild, almost savory nuttiness, making the combination of the two nut flours ideal in this recipe. They add light, delicate texture, greatly enhance the torte’s flavor, and pair perfectly with the orange zest and spices in the dough. It is best to store almond and hazelnut flours in the refrigerator or freezer to keep them fresh and extend their shelf life.
GRANULATED SUGAR: Besides adding satisfying sweetness to the dough, sugar reacts with amino acids in the flour during a heat-driven reaction that leads to browning, called the Maillard reaction, which adds a lovely golden color and toasty flavor to the crust. Sugar also inhibits gluten formation, leading to an even more tender crust.
LIGHT BROWN SUGAR: Brown sugar pairs beautifully with the festive spices and tart raspberry filling in our Linzer Torte, adding sweetness and depth of flavor. Sugar is a hygroscopic ingredient, which means it absorbs moisture. It will keep your torte moist longer while adding a slightly caramelized flavor with its 3.5% molasses content.
ORANGE ZEST: A touch of orange zest boosts the torte’s holiday flavor delicately yet distinctively.
KOSHER SALT: Salt is an all-encompassing flavor booster, and sweet bakes without salt tend to taste flat. We like kosher salt because it’s a pure, additive-free salt with a crisp, clean taste. Plus, it’s flaked rather than granulated, allowing for more-even distribution in our dough.
GROUND CINNAMON, GINGER, NUTMEG, AND CLOVES: Slightly sweet cinnamon, sharp ginger, earthy and nutty nutmeg, and bold cloves combine to form a well-balanced spice blend, providing the perfect amount of welcome warmth and depth of flavor to the dough.
BAKING POWDER: Most baking powders are double-acting, meaning the reaction happens twice, using two different acids. The first is a quick reaction when moisture is added to the baking powder in the dough mixture. The second reaction is slower, occurring when the dough bakes.
UNSALTED BUTTER: Because butter is essential to the texture and richness of the crust, choosing a European-style butter with a higher fat ratio than generic grocery store butter will yield the best results. As for unsalted versus salted, salt content can vary across different butter brands, so we use unsalted butter, allowing us to add the exact amount of kosher salt desired.
EGG: Eggs lend richness through their yolks and moisture and structure through their whites.
VANILLA EXTRACT: Vanilla extract is a magical ingredient that adds instant complexity to this torte.
BONNE MAMAN® RASPBERRY PRESERVES: Made with fresh fruit, the subtle tart notes and slight earthiness in Bonne Maman® Raspberry Preserves enhance the gorgeously spiced sweet dough.
CONFECTIONERS’ SUGAR: A dusting of confectioners’ sugar adds a charming final flourish to the baked Linzer Torte.
Our Linzer Torte is a lattice-topped, raspberry preserves-filled affair made with a marvelous dough of ground hazelnuts and almonds. The secret to working with this soft, nut-enriched dough is to use wax paper when rolling to help keep the dough from sticking to your rolling pin or counter and freezing the dough before layering the lattice. The strips aren’t woven; they are simply laced over each other for a lattice effect without having to handle the delicate dough too much.
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flours, granulated sugar, brown sugar, orange zest, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves by hand until combined. Add cold butter; using the paddle attachment, beat at medium speed until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; beat at low speed just until dough comes together, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. (Mixture should be moist but not sticky and should hold together when pinched.) Turn out dough onto a clean surface; reserve one-third of dough (about 278 grams), and cover with plastic wrap. A stand mixer is the most efficient and foolproof method when making this dough. Unlike a food processor, a stand mixer gives you more control as you see the dough coming together.
1. Spray the edges of a 10-inch round fluted removable-bottom tart pan with baking spray with flour. Press remaining dough into bottom and up sides of prepared pan; trim any excess with a small sharp knife, and add to reserved onethird of dough. Cover with plastic wrap. After pressing the dough in the pan with your hands, press the bottom of a metal measuring cup into the pan to prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers while getting a nice, even layer of dough so it bakes evenly.
1. Lightly dust a sheet of wax paper with all-purpose flour; place reserved dough on prepared wax paper, and lightly dust top of dough with all-purpose flour. Place another sheet of wax paper on dough, and roll dough into a 12-inch circle (about ⅛ inch thick); place on a baking sheet. Refrigerate rolled dough and dough in pan for 1 hour. One trick to rolling out a soft dough like this is to sandwich it between two sheets of wax paper to keep it from sticking as you work with it. You can use parchment paper in a pinch, but wax paper is thin and slightly easier to handle for this recipe. The dough will stick to the paper just enough to keep it from sliding around from the pressure of the rolling pin, allowing you to roll out the dough effortlessly.
2. Remove top sheet of wax paper from rolled dough; using a pastry wheel or pizza cutter, cut dough into 1-inch-wide strips; cover and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Using a ruler, we score the rolled-out dough into 1-inch intervals. This serves as a guide to follow as we cut the entire length of the lattice strips using the help of the ruler’s straight edge.
1. Using a small offset spatula, spread preserves evenly into dough in pan. Gently arrange 5 dough strips about ½ inch apart in one direction on top of preserves. Repeat with 5 dough strips in opposite direction to create an unwoven lattice pattern; press strips into edges of dough in pan, trimming excess to create a clean edge. (If dough becomes too soft, freeze in 15-minute intervals as needed; a lightly floured large offset spatula can help move strips.) Create additional strips as needed by rerolling excess dough to ⅛-inch thickness between lightly floured sheets of wax paper. (This is a delicate dough. If it tears while moving, simply press it back together; alternatively, reroll, cut, and refrigerate dough, and try again.) Refrigerate assembled tart for 20 minutes. Refrigerating the assembled torte lets the butter in the dough solidify, which helps the crust bake up nice and crisp.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
3. Bake until crust is golden brown and set and filling is starting to bubble, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan. Dust with confectioners’ sugar as desired just before serving.