Monday, December 3, 2007

Red and white

It's been a while since I've had time to bake. I got a Saturday afternoon job bartending at Nowhere in Manhattan. It's a really fun job, but it doesn't leave much time for baking (or anything else not involving drinking at Nowhere). I mean, there's that other day, Sunday, but I'm usually feeling pretty lo-n.r.g. and wanting to take it easy. It is a day of rest, after all.

This past Sunday was a different story. I got home at a reasonable time on Saturday night and I woke up early with no trouble (i.e. hangover). Also, I woke up to this outside my window:
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That's not a black and white photo, by the way. And the other direction:
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I have to admit that, being from Florida, I still get excited for the first snow of the season. By the second snow, I pretty much hate it and I'm ready for it to be summer again.

After brunch with Charlie at Diner, I stopped by the store for a few ingredients to bake with. I've been craving raspberries lately - the color, especially. I love how intensely red and Christmas-y they are. I also was in the mood to make something very pretty, and of course, tasty. So 1) pretty, and 2) tasty.

I decided on a Linzer torte. These tortes are named after Linz, Austria - the city in which they were invented. Also, just FYI, Linzer tortes are apparently the oldest-known torte or cake in the world, with a found recipe dating back to 1653. They are always made of a basic recipe involving raspberries and nuts, usually almonds. Of course, since it's a torte and doesn't require too much science, you can vary your ingredients widely and it'll still typically come out well. Actually, that kind of demystifies how dramatic and tasty this torte is, but not many people read this blog anyways.

Here are all of the ingredients I used. It's so simple.
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I made the crust with a mix of almonds and roasted hazelnuts that I ground myself.
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Here was where I went slightly wrong. The crust tasted wonderful - nutty and buttery and (maybe a little too) sweet. My problem was that I didn't grind the nuts fine enough. See?
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This affected the texture, which admittedly was still really nice, but more importantly, it affected my ability to make the torte look pretty. The larger chunks of nuts got in the way of my pastry cutter, so I couldn't make nice-looking strips. Sounds minor, but with such an easy recipe, I was hoping for visual perfection. More on that in a bit.

Here's some process assembly stuff.

Creamed butter and sugar. Better than chocolate and peanut butter!
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Weighing the dough before cutting in half.
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Pressed dough into a tart pan:
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Making the raspberry jam filling:
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Cooling the jam in a bowl on my snowy fire escape (I love this picture):
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Filling the chilled pie shell with the snow-cooled jam (it has a few blueberries in it, too):
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Here's where you can see the problem with the larger nuts (haha). The crust was very fragile and it broke into several pieces. Also, I couldn't roll it out as thin as I wanted, but I learned that that's not such a bad thing with a tasty crust (just too sweet!):
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And here's the result. It's not as perfect-looking as I had in mind, but it tasted REALLY great. The dark strips are extra pieces of crust that I over-baked. My roommate gobbled 'em up.
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Here's Steve, my roommate, nursing our beers. You can ALMOST see a string of drool. Jay kay!!
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I cut myself a slice in the morning for breakfast. So good.
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The rest was taken to work where it was quickly devoured. I even got an order for another one, which I'll be making tonight. I'm glad to have an excuse to try again.

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Next time - less sweet and more finely ground nuts. This'll be the winner. Picture tomorrow!

Thanks for reading.

Pie for now!

1 comment:

Franc said...

The slight gushing in between the dough is perfect.

Yum!