Linzer Torte: 4 Variations Made with Bock

Cooking with Beer by | Sep 2014 | Issue #92

Photo by Sean Z. Paxton

Oktoberfest is traditionally celebrated in Europe and the US at the end of September. While German food is typically highlighted during this time, I have decided to journey over the Austrian border this year and focus on the Linzer Torte. Historians suggest it may be one of the oldest written cake recipes, dating back to 1653. Imagining different ingredients back then, I have done some thinking about the classic flavors and created adaptations by overlaying sub-styles of Bock to add dimension to this Austrian dessert.

So here are four different Linzer Torte variations: a fig currant filling with a hazelnut crust that closely resembles the original recipe and enhances the flavors of an Eisbock; a dark, fruit-forward torte using cherries and Doppelbock together with an almond tangerine pastry; an apricot Weizenbock, chamomile, vanilla bean filling that has a pistachio lemon crust; and finally a prune raisin Bock filling with a walnut ginger crust. These filling and crust recipes are interchangeable, depending on the Bock styles available in your market.

Note: If you have a particular nut allergy, a different crust can be substituted.

Serves: 8

Base Pastry
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp sea salt
10 oz unsalted butter, preferably European, cold, cut into cubes (1 1/2 sticks)
2 each egg yolks, large
1 tbsp bourbon vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract


Hazelnut Pastry Ingredients:
2 cups raw hazelnuts, shelled
3/4 cup sugar, muscovado or demerara
1/4 tsp cloves, freshly ground
1/4 tsp nutmeg, ground
1 each orange or blood orange, zest

Use with Fig Currant Eisbock Filling

Almond Pastry Ingredients:
2 cups raw almonds, skin on
3/4 cup sugar, raw or organic
1/4 tsp cloves, freshly ground
1/4 tsp nutmeg, ground
1 each orange or tangerine, zest

Use with Cherry Doppelbock Filling

Pistachio Lemon Pastry Ingredients:
2 cups raw pistachio, shelled
3/4 cup sugar, raw
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
1 each lemon, zest

Use with Apricot Weizenbock Chamomile Vanilla Bean Filling

Walnut Ginger Pastry Ingredients:
2 cups raw walnuts, shelled
3/4 cup sugar, light brown
3/4 tsp ginger, ground
1/4 tsp cloves, freshly ground
1 each lemon, zest

Use with Prune Raisin Bock Filling

Preheat oven to 350°F. Once you have picked the flavor of the crust and filling, arrange the nuts onto a sheet tray in a single layer. Toast the nuts until golden brown and fragrant. Depending on the nut variety, toasting can take 10–16 minutes. Remove them from the oven and allow to fully cool before proceeding. Place nuts into the bowl of a food processor and add the sugar(s). Seal the bowl with the top and pulse the nuts until they reach a fine powder consistency, about 2–3 minutes total.

Next, add the flour, spices (from both the base and nut option recipe), zest and salt. Pulse to combine. Add the cold cubed butter and pulse again until the mixture has the texture of soft sand. Add the egg yolks and bourbon extract and pulse several times until a dough ball starts to form. Be careful not to over process the dough at this point or the friction of the blades will cause the butter to warm and melt.

Pour the dough onto a clean work surface and knead to combine the loose bits of dough into a large ball. Divide dough in half, reform into two discs and wrap individually in plastic. Refrigerate for at least an hour and up to two days in advance.

Begin to make the filling as the dough is chilling. When the dough has rested, take either a 10-inch springform pan with a removable bottom and sides or a tart pan with a removable bottom and rub down with soft butter or coat with a light layer of non-stick spray. Make sure to get all the edges on the tart pan.

Unwrap one dough ball onto a floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll it out to the same size diameter as the pan. Fold dough over and transfer to the prepared pan. Unfold the dough and press it into the pan and up the sides (an inch or so on the springform pan).

Filling Variations

Fig Currant Eisbock Filling Ingredients:
4 oz dried figs, stems removed and cut into fourths
4 oz dried currants
1/3 cup honey, orange blossom or pumpkin blossom
1/4 cup sugar, muscovado or demerara
1 each orange or blood orange, zest
1 pinch sea salt, or Chardonnay barrel wood smoked salt
12 oz beer, such as Schneider Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock

Cherry Doppelbock Filling Ingredients:
1 cup cherries, dried and pitted
1/3 cup sugar, light brown
1/4 cup sugar, raw, turbinado
1 each orange or tangerine, zest
1 pinch salt, smoked or sea
12 oz beer, such as Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel

Apricot Weizenbock Chamomile Vanilla Bean Filling Ingredients:
8 oz apricots, dried and pitted
1/3 cup sugar, light brown
1/4 cup sugar, raw, turbinado
1 each lemon, zest
1 tsp chamomile, dried
1 each vanilla bean, dried and split down the center
1 pinch salt, kosher or sea
12 oz beer, such as Weihenstephaner Vitus Weizenbock

Prune Raisin Bock Filling Ingredients:
4 oz prunes, pitted
4 oz dark raisins
1/4 cup sugar, light brown
1/3 cup sugar, raw, turbinado
1 each orange, zest
1 pinch salt, smoked or sea
12 oz beer, your favorite Bock

Filling Directions:
In a medium-sized pot, add the prepared dried fruit, sugar(s), citrus zest, salt and beer. Turn heat to medium low and cover with a lid. Bring beer to a low boil and cook, rehydrating the fruit and making it soft.

Once most of the liquid has been absorbed and the fruit is tender, remove from heat. Once cool, transfer the fruit and liquid to a clean food processor bowl or blender pitcher. Purée fruit filling until it is smooth and almost creamy.

*If time is limited, use your favorite jam as a filling. Add 1/2 cup of beer to 1 cup of jam, simmer to reduce the beer by 2/3, and cool.

To Finish Assembly:
Once the filling is cool, spread it in an even layer over the dough. An offset spatula works well for this task. Chill the torte pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the top crust.

Remove the second dough ball and place onto a floured surface. Placing the dough between two sheets of parchment paper, wax paper or Silpat mats will make this process easier. Roll dough out to an even thickness (about 1/8th of an inch), and remove the top sheet.

Options for topping the torte are many at this point. The traditional design is a lattice of 1-inch wide strips on the top. To do this, use a fluted or straight cutter and slice the dough into 1-inch wide strips. Start the weaving process by laying out all the horizontal strips. Lay down one, leave an inch gap and then lay another, until you reach the end of the pan. Now fold back every other strip. Place the first vertical strip down the center of the torte. Fold back the folded strips and now fold the strips underneath back. Lay the next vertical strip and fold back over. Repeat this process until the torte is covered.

Alternatively, use a cookie cutter to cut the dough into beer bottles, beer glasses, bottle caps, or fruit shapes that match the filling flavor. Add your own creative spin. Remove the pan from the refrigerator and arrange the cut outs evenly over the top. If you have a reasonable amount of dough left from the cut outs, roll it into a rope to circle the torte’s edge. To give the finished Linzer Torte more flair, sprinkle the same nuts used in the dough over this rope. The nuts can be sliced, chopped, or halved and lightly pressed into the dough.

Place torte into the oven and bake until golden brown, about 30–40 minutes. Once baked, transfer to a cooling rack, and cool completely before removing from the mold. To remove, use a sharp paring knife and run it along the edge between the pan and the crust. This helps prevent the crust from breaking during the removal process. The torte can be served right away or will keep for a few days at room temperature.

To serve, dust with powdered sugar or a dollop of whipping cream that has been lightly sweetened with sugar and a few drops of vanilla bean extract.

Serve the same beer used in the recipe. This will provide a comparison tasting experience for guests. Otherwise, a Roggenbier would work well against the Fig Currant Eisbock Torte, a Dunkleweizen for the Cherry Doppelbock Almond Torte, or a Hefeweizen to play off the Apricot Weizenbock Chamomile and Vanilla Bean Torte. The Prune Raisin Bock Torte will also pair well with a Märzen or an Eisbock.

Malted Whipping Cream
To make this Linzer Torte a little more extreme, mash barley malt into the whipping cream. This will add extra depth of flavor and enhance the pairing further. Different malts are kilned at different temperatures to create flavors ranging from caramel to toffee to grainy malted sweetness. These malts, commonly found in a homebrew shop or online, will act as some of the sugar in this recipe.

Makes: 1 pint of cream

1 pint cream, preferably organic
3 tbsp Cara-Vienna style malt
2 tbsp Munich malt
1 tbsp sugar, organic or raw
1 each vanilla bean, split in half and seeds scraped out
1 pinch kosher salt

In a medium-sized saucepan, add cream. Place malt kernels into a plastic bag and lightly crush them with a rolling pin, rolling back and forth until they have split. Add malt to the cream, along with the sugar, vanilla bean pod and a pinch of salt. Over the lowest stovetop setting, slowly bring the cream to a simmer. This will take about 30 minutes.

Once the mixture is simmering (watch for boil overs), turn off the heat and cover with a lid, letting the malt and cream infuse for another 30 minutes. Strain cream through a fine sieve over a bowl to capture the flavored cream. Chill the cream down by placing the bowl over another filled with ice water. Once cold, remove from the ice bath and whip the cream into soft peaks using a whisk.