Austrian Tea Room Staple

In food on 09/29/2009 at 9:14 am

My vacation month is over…the other half is off traipsing upstate New York in the Finger Lakes region with Mother and I’m alone contemplating the last couple days of freedom before another long commuting month begins. Reflecting on some bad meals during these road trips, I realize I must live in a place where great food is easily accessible. An unhappy belly makes for cranky jeju. And that really ruins everyone else’s day.

In Stowe, Vermont, we visited the von Trapp Family Lodge overlooking Mt. Mansfield. The hills were indeed alive. Traditional European cooking like you find in Austria is generally heavy, full of sauces and stews. We didn’t dare venture into the actual hotel dining room, but trudged down the hill to the “Austrian Tea Room,” which we suspect was built for nosy tourists like us.

It was nothing like what I expected – a cozy Neue Galerie-type space with dark wood paneling and with waiters dressed in costume and thick accents. Instead, it was really a deli with spectacular views, one mountain overlapping another amongst shifting fog. But the food we had, a trio of Austrian deli meat with sauerkraut on rye sandwich, butternut squash soup, and linzertorte were surprisingly good and hearty.

The linzertorte was invented in Linz, Austria, and falls somewhere between a shortbread cookie and a pie with fruit filling. The recipe variations are numerous. The flavor in this  crust was pumpkin-y but nutty, with a good QQ. I loves me some thick crust while I abhor too much jammy filling. The linzertorte is perfect for me then, minimal jam and maximal crust. There was a book selling the recipe, but I poo-poo-ed it and thought it would be easy to find something authentic online. Ha, if only I could eat my words like I gobbled up that pie-cookie.

When we were eating our horrendous dinner at City Tavern in Philadelphia, (a ‘historically accurate’ reproduction of the same 18th century building and colonial fare, where the founding fathers dined and debated) the colonially-costumed waiter showed the Spanish couple next to us the dessert tray, which also had a linzertorte. Compared to the one at the von Trapp deli, this one had a dark brown burnt? crust, with more jam than I care to introduce to my tongue. We were already supping on a dry, yet braised, oxymoronic rabbit and rubbery (like raw kidney) metallic-tinged venison, so we were afraid to order anything else. If ‘open-hearth’ cooking is like when you cook directly over the camfire flame, then how could a five-star chef manage not to sear a piece of meat? No wonder the colonists were angry enough to start a revolution. Their bellies made them do it.

Dave C. put it best in his yelp review of this establishment: Have you ever gone to Medieval Times in N. Jersey or where ever the hell else that place is located and have reenactors massacre each other  to vie for your attention?  Yea, … City Tavern is just like that, but without all the bloodlust… or fun. You basically eat and drink and watch people dolled up in colonial garb NOT murder each other. Honestly, I felt shame walking out the door, did you feel shame?

And so we left this historic tavern one Benjamin Franklin lighter but with two angry bellies. My hang-up with linzertorte lingered though, so I found this one with a story and unique method. Our resident baker will have to tell me whether it works. It’s copied below:

As clarinet soloist with more than a hundred orchestras—and as recitalist, chamber musician and innovative jazz artist—Richard Stoltzman has earned an international reputation.

Like many musicians who are constantly on the road, Mr. Stoltzman enjoys sampling the local cuisine, but when he’s home he loves to do the cooking himself, especially baking. Early in his career, he took some classes at London’s Cordon Bleu school. The actual process of baking pleased him so much that he continued his training during summers at Marlboro.

Mr. Stoltzman first made a linzer torte in 1974, when Rudolf Serkin asked him to bring along a dessert following a Mozart concert in Vermont. Recently he presented his linzer tortes again for a pre-concert supper at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 pound salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups ground almonds
  • 1 cup raspberry preserves
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Mix the flour, cocoa, cinnamon and cloves together in a bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and beat in 1/2 cup of sugar. Beat in the egg yolks. Gradually blend in the almonds and the flour mixture to make a thick batter.

    Using about half the batter, spread an even layer, 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick, in the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch round baking pan with a removable bottom. Spread the jam over the batter to within 1/2 inch of the edge, taking care not to break the layer of batter.

    Spoon the remaining batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large tube, 1/2 inch in diameter. Pipe 3 to 5 parallel lines of batter straight across the layer of jam from one edge to the other. Give the pan a quarter turn and pipe 3 to 5 more parallel lines across the pastry from edge to edge. Pipe the remaining batter around the edge. (Any excess batter can be used to form round cookies on a baking sheet. Fill the cookies with jam and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden.)

    Refrigerate torte for 1 hour.

    Preheat oven to 300° F.

    Beat the egg white with the remaining sugar and the water until frothy. Brush this mixture over the pastry strips and the edge. Place the linzer torte in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Allow to cool completely.

    Before serving, sift confectioner’s sugar over the top. Remove the sides of the pan and serve.

    xmas list here i come

    Ingredients: Linzertorte
    (Ha, I found it!)

    1 1/2 Cups Butter
    1 Egg
    3 Rounded Cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
    1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
    1/2 Cup Currant Jelly
    1/4 Cup Almonds, Sliced
    1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
    1 1/2 Cups Walnuts – Ground
    1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
    1/4 Teaspoon Cloves
    1/2 Cup Raspberry Jam
    Confectioner’s Sugar

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Flour and grease two 8 inch pans. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light (either by hand, with a mixer or a food processor). Add egg, walnuts, flour and spices. Mix into a dough and then roll into a ball. Divide dough into quarters. Press a quarter of the dough into the bottom of each cake pan. Cut one of the remaining quarters in half and press each half up the sides of both pans. Cut the remaining quarter of dough into 12 pieces and set aside.

    Mix the currant jelly and the jam together. Spread half of the mixture into each of the walnut crust shells. Roll out the remaining dough into round strips and crisscross on top of the jam mixture-three pieces each way. Press the side crust down to connect with the strips. Sprinkle the top of your torte with almonds and bake until golden brown and the jam mixture bubbles.

    Cool, remove from pans, then sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

    *** just received text from the other half: trip diverted to Delaware Water Gap due to inclement weather upstate.***

    1. I don’t know If I said it already but …Cool site, love the info. I do a lot of research online on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

      A definite great read..Jim Bean

    2. There is obviously a lot to learn. There are some good points here.

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