The main reason most Linzer tortes are made with short crust these days — or so I’ve come to believe — has to do with a certain technical issue. Reader Gerhard has convinced me that originally Linzer tortes were indeed cake-like and not tart-like, with red currant (or black currant) jam on the top.
But here’s the sticky detail: jam is gooey. It soaks into cake when you bake it on top of a liquid (or semi-liquid) batter. So how did the originators of the modern Linzer torte achieve a separation of the two? The answer: by applying paper-thin wafers to the batter and then spreading jam over them. Back-Oblaten they’re called…”baking wafers.” The jam goes on the wafer, the wafer provides a barrier and probably absorbs enough moisture from the jam during baking that you don’t know it’s there afterward.
The trouble is that baking wafers aren’t available in America, nor in a lot of other places I suspect. Which is why most bakers have simply gone over to short crusts for their Linzer tortes, because short crusts are much better barriers against jam. But since I’m on the trail of a classic Linzer torte, I don’t want to do that now. So I’ll need to solve the problem in some other way. A little brik pastry I’m thinking, or something to that effect. Of course I could just go for broke and pipe the jam right on the batter surface, but that’s going to give me a messy interior. And I don’t like messy. I’m uptight.
More on this soon. I welcome any suggestions!