Friday, April 25, 2014

It more than made up for the completely nondescript gazebo

When I was growing up, one of the many signs of Easter was watching The Sound of Music on TV.  My sister and I would sit, entranced, gazing up at the screen.  We'd giggle like crazy at the dinner table scene, scowl at the selfish Baroness, yodel along with the lonely goatherd, imitate Gretel on our own stairs (lisping "The Sun. Has Gone. To bed and so must AYE-aye!" at the top of our lungs for weeks afterward), and cheer when the nuns say, "Reverend Mother, I have sinned".

Yep. We wanted nothing more than to help our dad push a car all the way to Switzerland and have a boy to dance around a gazebo in the rain with, even if he did turn out to be a Nazi rat later.

So of course, the minute I set foot in Europe for the first time, I couldn't wait to go to Salzburg and run singing through the streets.

I was not alone.

My friends and I signed up for one of the many "official" Sound of Music tours, packed in with zillions of other tourists with guide maps, cameras, and visions of Julie Andrews and the gang hanging from trees in colorful curtains.  Yes, we did see the convent yard where they crouched behind the gravestones, and the actual gazebo (relocated to a convenient in-town location), but the whole experience was vaguely disappointing and made us a little sad*.

On the plus side, there was Linzer Torte.

Cherry Linzer Torte

That made us feel better.  As in, very, very happy.
And being able to bake my own is one of my new favorite things**.

Cherry Linzer Torte
Cherry Linzer Torte
by Sharon Graves
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes, plus several hours chilling time along the way
From Alice Medrich's lifesaving Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts.  My only adaptation was to use gourmet cherry preserves.  Easy is make the whole thing in a food processor!
  • 3/4 c. whole almonds
  • 1 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 11 Tbs. butter, cut into pieces and slightly softened
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 3/4 c. excellent cherry preserves
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting at the end

Place almonds, flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and cloves into a food processor. Pulse until the almonds are ground finely. 

Add butter, egg yolk, lemon and orage zest and almond extract, and process just until blended into a nearly smooth dough.

Take out 1/3 c. of the dough, and form into a ball. Place into a plastic bag and pop it into the freezer.

Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper. Press remaining dough evenly into the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or as long as overnight.

Preheat oven to 350.

Spread the cherry preserves over the prepared dough, leaving about 1/2 inch border around the edge. Remove the spare ball of dough from the freezer. Using the largest holes on a box grater, grate that dough over the preserves. You'll still see some of the preserves peeking through.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown, then tent the torte with foil to prevent edges from burning. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the torte is a slightly deeper brown all over. Cool for 10 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the edge and release the springform sides. Cool completely.

To serve, invert torte onto a plate, then remove the parchment paper. Turn right side up, and dust with a little powdered sugar. Cut into wedges and enjoy!

* I do look somewhat cheerful in the obligatory photo of me poised with one foot outstretched between the gazebo benches.  I dug out my old slides from the trip when I was planning this post, but I couldn't figure out how to go from slide to blog.  You'll just have to imagine me, nearly 30 years earlier, with huge coke bottle glasses, a kelly green polo shirt (preppy was in), and crazy hair in a pony tail (some things never change.).   Pretty much as non-Von-Trapp-looking as a person could get.  And yet, I felt, oddly, that I was returning to my roots on that long-ago pilgrimage to Austria.  The pastry proved me right.
** Or at least, it'll be one of my favorite things again after I make a little more progress on my waistline reduction program.

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