Tea Time Treats Challenge this month is chocolate - not a difficult challenge for me, as a lot of my baking is based on chocolate (although less so now that I'm not baking regularly for CT). Although I've baked twice with chocolate already this month, I didn't think either of them were worthy enough to be a challenge entry, so I looked around for something a bit different.
This Linzer Torte recipe is based on a Mary Berry recipe from a book called 'Desserts and Confections' published in 1991, well before she became a TV celebrity. Surprisingly, I can only find one online reference to the recipe, here at Scandi Home; I made a few changes to the recipe - one out of necessity, one out of laziness, one to increase the flavours in the pastry, and one to boost the chocolate content.
The pastry dough is made by mixing everything together in a food mixer - really easy for me now with my new Kenwood Chef mixer. I departed from the recipe and used 60g of ground hazelnuts and 60g of ground almonds (instead of all almonds), 265g plain flour, 200g caster sugar, 175g softened butter, 30g cocoa, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and the finely grated zest of a lemon. When everything is well blended, the ball of dough is halved. One half is used to line a shallow flan tin, by spreading and pressing into place using fingers. The recipe called for a 28cm tin, but mine was a little smaller - it was all I had!
The first step, however, before making the dough, is to make the apricot filling as it needs time to cool. 350g chopped dried apricots were simmered with 500ml of water and 100g caster sugar until the liquid was all absorbed or evaporated. The recipe used 250mls orange juice as part of the liquid, but I didn't have any to hand - I don't think it would have made a lot of difference to the final flavour, as dried apricots have a very concentrated flavour. The original recipe also sieved the cooked apricots to make a smooth purée, but I skipped this in favour of just mashing the fruit and having a coarser texture.
Before spreading the apricot filling over the pastry, I spread a layer of grated 100% cacao over the base; I estimated I used only about 30g, but it was very finely grated and went a long way! I hoped this would noticeably boost the chocolate flavour (it did!) and cut through what seemed an awful lot of sugar in both the pastry and the filling.
The last step is to make a lattice topping out of the second portion of dough. I had intended to make a real interwoven lattice, but the dough was too fragile, so I had to follow Mary's instructions to lay down a bottom row of strips, then a top row on the diagonal, pressing down the top row lightly to give the look of a lattice.
The torte was baked for 10 minutes at 200C then another 30 minutes at 180C - I baked it for a little longer than the recipe stipulated, as I thought the base dough would be thicker because of using a smaller tin. After cooling in the tin, the torte was dusted with icing sugar before serving.
The dough was short and crumbly - more like a biscuit than pastry; the apricot filling was sticky and strongly flavoured and the layer of chocolate really made the whole tart taste of rich chocolate. On the whole though, I think I prefer the traditional non-chocolate versions as the flavours of nuts and spices in the dough stand out more.
Tea Time Treats (rules here) is a monthly baking challenge hosted alternately by Karen from Lavender and Lovage and Jane from the Hedgecombers. The idea is to bake something suitable for the tea table, following the theme chosen by the host. This month's host is Karen, who will post a roundup at the end of the month.