What is Linzer Torte?

You’ve seen one, I promise you. It’s a tart-like creation with a layer of raspberry preserves on the top, criss-crossed by strips of short crust. Of course it’s no ordinary short crust, but one that’s well infused with almonds, either ground almonds or almond flour. Sure, sometimes people use hazelnuts or walnuts, but almonds are the classic.

It’s called “Linzer” because it hails from the city of Linz, Austria. Linz is up north in Austria, not so far from Vienna and quite close to where Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic all meet. Much of that area (save for Germany) belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire prior to 1918, and the whole thing to the Holy Roman Empire prior to 1806.

It was when Linz belonged to the Holy Roman Empire that Linzer torte is said to have been invented. 1696 according to some, but then the baker who makes that particular claim also maintains that Linzer torte is the oldest “cake” in the world. I find that highly suspect, though I suppose it all depends on what you define as “cake.” Me, I think a Linzer torte is a tart, but who wants to get into a heated argument with an adamant Austrian confectioner? Not me.

Linzer torte is conventionally a two-layer affair: one almond cream, the other raspberry preserves with the lattice work on top. However it’s not unusually to find three- or four-layer versions. I think I’ll stick to two, but feel free to stack yours if you feel the urge. There’s no such thing as too much short crust or almond cream…not in my universe, anyway.

10 thoughts on “What is Linzer Torte?”

  1. Hey Joe,

    Can’t wait to see your recipe. I take mine from the old Time-Life series (I think it is the Cakes edition). Its a heady mix of spices, ground almonds and a hint of cocoa. Man you have got to try it if you have not already. Have never heard of it with almond cream though, so I am looking forward to some variations. Cheers

    1. Wow, fascinating. Mine is quite simple by comparison. I’ll have a look and see if I can find it on the web anywhere…I’m interested now!


      – Joe

  2. I agree with Bruce, the almond cream sounds divine! The whole torte actually sounds amazing, so I’m really excited for this series 🙂

  3. nononononono 🙂 sans almond cream, sans raspberry-preserve but with red currant-preserve (must-use to get that extra-sour-taste a Linzer needs).
    A Linzer-Torte is a very special affair… very sweet, very spicy, very sour. You skip the spices though for the Kecks-version (uh… Kecks… is a cookie).

    Anyways… no way around the red currant-jam to make it original.

    🙂 Watching you! 🙂

    1. Alright wise guy…hit me with a recipe and I’ll make it!

      I tell you, these Austrians…

      – Joe

      1. 😉 actually you’re not far from the real thing… it’s the 3/4 of the spicy batter, then the all-important red currant-jam (“Ribisel-Marmelade”) and finally the lattice (which is the remaining 1/4 batter poured (“piped”) in that particular pattern on top of the red currant-jam). No almond cream or any other filling whatsoever; it is a “dry” cake.

        I think people call it cake because of the rather liquid batter… a tart would be made with some kind of shortcrust, no? And that’s also where the difference between Linzer Torte und Linzer Kecks beginns, aside from the spices.

        Hope this helps to keep the recipe a bit more original… since – and actually I haven’t realized this before – since there are literally no variations of this cake to be found (in Austria, to my knowledge). A Linzer Torte is a Linzer Torte is a Linzer Torte.

        oh by the way there is a baker in Linz (the Jindrak-bakery) who claims it’s the oldest cake in the world and they’re doing it since the dinosaurs or something 😉 and actually I got his famous cake several times as a present and it’s really, really good. Very sweet, spicy and very sour.

        🙂 just tryin’ to be helpful, Joe 🙂

        1. Hey Tom! I was teasing you of course…I absolutely appreciate you keeping me on the straight-and-narrow, as it were. One thing is still confusing me, however. It’s the “batter” you’re describing. I can’t find a single recipe that calls for a batter-type base. Even the German cookbooks I own call for a dough. Are you certain about that aspect of it?

          Thanks for your help — truly.

          – Joe

  4. Here’s a good, extensive website about Linzer Torte, but you’d have to run it through some online- translator, since it’s in german. It’s about it’s history, how it evolved over time and so on, a very interesting read. There are also two recipes (batter), the second one (Ludwig Mann’s) looks far more original than the first one (which is out of a recipe-book and uses ingredients like Arancini… a more fancy trade-off of the original I’d say). However, I didn’t know that one can gather so much information about one single cake 🙂


    …. but really… it ain’t a Linzer Torte if there’s no red currant-preserve.

  5. Hey Joe,

    Was just re-reading the recipe I mentioned above. As well as the 1 tablespoon of cocoa in it, it has 2 tsp of cherry schnapps. Noooooow we are talking!


    PS For your reference the recipe is Linzer Torte (mit Mandeln) in Cakes and Pastries from the Classic Time Life series of cookbooks but originally published in Das Neue Kiehnle-Kochbuch, by Kiehnle and Hadecke.

    PPS I love this blog, but in my minds’ eye I never know whether to picture us as: A) a group of grand mothers sitting around exchanging recipes, or as B) a group of byzantine monks arguing over scripture.

    1. If it helps, I think of us as a bunch of single 35-year-olds at a Comic-Con, sitting around wondering if Spock and Kirk are ever going to return to planet Vulcan for the Pon farr, so they can settle their differences like men.

      – Joe

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