Linzer Cookie

I recently had the privilege of learning a few essential pastry techniques from Andreas Stössel – Swiss master pastry chef and principal lecturer in patisserie at the College of Tourism and Hospitality at Southbank Institute of Technology in Brisbane.  
 
I have always had a bit of a soft spot for pastry, to which my family can attest!  Growing up, the best bit of a quiche or tart to me was not the filling (no matter how deliciously rich or tasty), but the pastry.   The humble pastry.
 
I have to admit I do not make enough pastry, which is a shame as it is enormously versatile.  I think the time to prepare, chill, bake blind and then fill deters me.  But I was inspired by all the new pastry options from Andreas, so with a bit of planning I hope to produce pastry delights more regularly.
 
Andreas shared his pastry recipe for Linzer slice and I was hooked.  I knew this recipe would be a perfect choice for the holidays.  How could you not enjoy a light, buttery hazelnut pastry weaved with cinnamon, cloves, and lemon, then sandwiched together with raspberry jam?  This cookie includes all the essential ingredients for Christmas!
 
{ Linzer Cookies }

Makes 2 dozen sandwiched cookies

* Ingredients *

250g (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
1 1/4 cups hazelnut meal (ground hazelnuts)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup raspberry jam

* Directions *

Beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add eggs and beat until smooth.  Beat in vanilla.
Combine flour, ground hazelnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and lemon zest.  Add to butter mixture and beat until combined.
Divide dough in half and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but preferably overnight.  (See note below.)
Remove from the refrigerator and allow to stand to soften slightly. 
Line baking trays with baking paper or Silpats.  Preheat oven to 160 C or 325 F.
Dust a pin and roll dough out to 3mm or 1/8-inch thickness.  Cut out cookie shapes.  Keep half the cookies whole, and cut out the centres of the remaining cookies.  Carefully transfer to the baking sheets.  If the dough becomes too soft as you are working, cover with plastic and chill for a few minutes.  (See note below.)
When all the cookie shapes have been prepared, freeze until firm (about 30 minutes).
Bake cookies for about 10–12 minutes until golden.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Warm up jam and spoon onto base cookie.  Top with the open cookie.  Sift with icing sugar. 

{ A few tips … }

I found the pastry very delicate to work with.  Here are a few tips:

1. When you first form the dough, roll out in between some plastic wrap (Glad, Saran etc.) before refrigerating. 
2. When cutting out shapes, continue to work the dough on the plastic wrap.
3. If baking in summer or in a hot climate (it was very humid when I made these!), regularly pop the dough on a baking tray covered with the plastic wrap and chill for 10-15 minutes.
4. Ensure you do not roll out the cookies too thin as they can be fragile when baked.
5. It is important to use good quality jam.  I always use St Dalfour in baking which has no added sugar.  This ensures that the sweetness of the centre is not overpowering and only imparts a fruit flavour.