Oh friends, it has been a week. Or more like, a month. We’ve had nonstop trips and family visits and back-to-back-to back illnesses, and I don’t want to disgust you with the details but let me just say, our house has now seen things that no house should ever have to see. (::shudder::) There was a time when I couldn’t even look at Instagram because even glancing at pictures of food would make me queasy. And if you know anything about me, you know I’m a girl who loves her food. So…it’s been rough.
But—knock on wood—I’m feeling better, there’s a pep in my step, and I can finally look at pictures of food again, so let’s get back into the blog! (And also, let us never speak of the month of January again.) I have a lot of fun Valentine’s Day posts for you coming up soon—can you believe it’s almost February already?? Yikes. But I thought I would ease into things with this sweet tea cake that can work for Valentine’s Day, but is also a great, casual, anytime-of-year dessert.
The idea for this cake comes from Linzer cookies, which are one of my favorite sandwich cookies.They’re typically made from shortbread that’s sandwiched with raspberry jam, and the top cookie often has a hole or shape cut out in the middle so the jam can peek through. Of course there are a million variations, but the basic principle of shortbread + raspberry jam + peephole is pretty constant. As you know, I love to embiggen things (Giant Ferrero Rochers, anyone?) so instead of making standard-sized linzer cookies, I decided to cake-ify the whole idea instead.
This cake started out with an almond shortbread dough, flavored with both almond meal (or ground almonds) and almond extract. Almond isn’t necessarily a traditional linzer cookie flavor, but it pairs so well with raspberries, it seemed natural to include it and make the cake portion a little more interesting.
Although it’s a cake, it’s made more like a cookie dough, rather than a cake batter. After the dough is chilled, it’s divided in half and rolled out just like a dough. After spreading a heap-ton *technical term* of jam on top of the bottom layer, I rolled out the top and cut a circle from the center. From that circle, I cut other, smaller circles and arranged them around the edges. The design wasn’t quite as precise after baking, but it was still visible around the edges, and added some elegance to the top of the cake.
After baking, I covered the jam portion and sprinkled powdered sugar all over the top (an homage to the classic linzer cookie), then, because it felt like it was missing something, added a few fresh raspberries in the center. You can also leave it plain, or decorate with slivered almonds or white chocolate curls.
Don’t be fooled by all that talk about “cookie dough” earlier—the cake isn’t dry or crumbly, at all. In fact, it has a really soft and tender crumb that, to me, is the perfect “tea cake” texture. It’s crisp around the edges but soft in the center, and the raspberry jam melts right into it!
This cake transitions well from afternoon to evening, and can pull off any style from casual to fancy. Make it the next time you need a low-key but delicious dessert, or the next time someone suggests they’re REALLY hungry for a cookie!
Linzer Cookie Cake
For the Cake:
- 11 1/4 oz all-purpose flour (2 1/2 cups)
- 2 oz almond meal (1/2 cup -- or finely ground almonds)
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 7 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
- 7 oz granulated sugar (1 cup)
- 1 egg at room temperature
- 1 yolk at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 3/4-1 cup raspberry jam
- 1 beaten egg for an egg wash
- Additional granulated sugar for sprinkling
- Fresh raspberries to garnish optional
- Powdered sugar
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt.
- Place the butter and 1 cup of sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and almond extract, beating until they are well-incorporated. Add the flour mixture, and beat until it is almost entirely mixed in and only a few streaks of flour remain. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is well-mixed.
- Form the dough into a ball and wrap it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for an hour, until it is firm enough to roll. (If it gets too chilled, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes until it softens slightly.)
- While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-1/2 inch springform pan or a cake pan with a removable bottom with nonstick cooking spray, and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil. (You can use a larger or smaller pan, but be aware the cooking time might change slightly.)
- Once the dough is chilled, divide it in half and roll out one half of the dough between two sheets of floured waxed paper. Roll it to the size of the pan, and fit it into the bottom of the pan. You can press it and work it with your fingers to get it to stretch if necessary. It's a flexible dough and is fairly easy to work with.
- Spread the raspberry jam on top of the dough. Use 3/4 cup if you like a thinner layer of jam, or use the full 1 cup if you like a thicker jam layer.
- Roll the second piece of dough out to the same size, and use a large circular cutter to cut a hole in the center. (Alternately, you press a bowl or large mug into the dough and cut around it with a knife.) Carefully lift the dough off the waxed paper and place it on top of the cake. Again use your fingers to spread and position it as necessary. Roll the circle of dough that was cut from the center a little thinner, and use a small circular cutter to cut out circles from the dough.
- Brush the beaten egg around the edges of the cake, and stick the circles of dough all around the edges. Brush the entire top of the cake with beaten egg, and sprinkle it with a thin, even layer of granulated sugar.
- Bake the cake at 350 F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden, has a crackly sugar layer, and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and cool for about 20 minutes, then run a blunt knife around the cake, remove the sides of the pan and let cool to room temperature.
- Once cool, cut out a circle of parchment or waxed paper to fit over the jam layer of the cake, then sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar. Remove the parchment circle, and add fresh raspberries on top of the jam layer, if desired.
- This Linzer Cookie Cake keeps very well, and you can store extras in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.