Sunday, September 21, 2008


Kaffee und Kuchen is a time-honored ritual in Germany in mid-afternoon, something we have often enjoyed during all-too-short visits with my husband’s family. His mother, Marlies, makes large trays of apple streusel when expecting visitors, and we’ve had some wonderful hours in their garden, enjoying kaffee und kuchen. During the summer months, she uses fresh fruit: cherries, raspberries, and Johannes berries. When our children were little, they delighted at the sight of Opa lowering a wicker basket filled with plates and napkins down with a rope from the window next to Oma’s tiny but phenomenally productive kitchen.

If all of those hours we’ve spent together in Oma’s garden were strung together continuously, they wouldn’t make up nearly enough time – and yet they live on as memorable and comforting. There are photos of Andreas and his siblings taken over the years back there, always in the same configuration as when they were kids. Now the examination of these brings hearty adult chuckles, and wistful comments about the passage of time. It is a little triumph whenever a new one is taken, when the three brothers and sister manage to make their way back to the same spot of ground.

What we find in Oma’s garden: bees, Johannes berries, strawberries, raspberries, leeks, salad greens, chives, herbs, a compost heap and a cold frame – with goats, horses, and a forest to walk in just beyond the fence.

I’ve never made a linzertorte before, but my friend Nicole passed along this recipe, thinking I should make one for Andi. It’s easy! This would make a good ‘locavore’ treat in the winter, if you use summer berries to store up some jam. In Marlies’s cellar, in a cupboard behind a curtain made from a heavy blanket, are the glass jars of jam she makes from her berries.

LINZERTORTE for Andreas and Lenni

3/4 cup (a stick and a half) organic butter, at room temperature
¾ cup organic sugar
¾ cup walnuts, ground in food processor
1 egg, at room temperature
1 ½ cups all-purpose organic unbleached flour
½ teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ cup of raspberry, black current, blackberry, or red current jam
2 tablespoons of sliced almonds (soak them first, if slicing your own)
organic powdered sugar for dusting

Bake in a 9-inch (24-cm) round springform pan.


Preheat oven to 375º
• Grind walnuts and mix with flour, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
• Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl, until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and add lemon zest.
• Stir in the mixture of flour, walnuts, and spices – mix it all up to make the dough.
• Divide the (somewhat sticky) dough into 2 disks, and refrigerate for up to an hour, to make it easier to handle. (The dough can be formed into disks 1 day ahead and chilled, wrapped well in plastic wrap.)
• Pat half of the dough into the bottom of the buttered springform pan. (You can use parchment paper to line the bottom, but it’s not necessary and may make it trickier to pat in the dough.)
• Roll the rest of the dough into a ¼ inch thick rectangle, and then cut into 1/2 inch wide strips.
• Spread the jam evenly over the dough in the pan.
• Line the sides of the pan with a strip of the dough.
• Crisscross strips of dough over the jam, making a lattice pattern. (I didn’t really weave these, but made a faux weave and pressed the strips down into a crisscross.)
• Press down firmly around the sides, and sprinkle the torte with sliced almonds.
• Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
• Remove from oven and let cool in the pan.
• Remove the sides of the pan after 10-15 minutes, and when torte is cool, sprinkle with a dusting of powdered sugar.

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