It might seem from this blog that in December we mostly live on cookies, but we don’t. Just yesterday we had a very healthy split pea soup for dinner, I swear. But yes, we do bake a lot of cookies at this time of year.
One of the most traditional ones are the Linzer cookies. These definitely fall into the category nr.1: “just about every family makes them”. In the Czech Republic, that is. Most Dutch families don’t bake any cookies, with the possible exception of speculaas.
As is the case with many traditional recipes, everybody has their own version. For example, most of the German recipes use almonds in the dough. Most Czech recipes don’t. Different preserves are used as a filling, but I’ve also come across cookies filled with pistache-something or eggnog-something (blasphemy if you ask me).
But of course, the BEST Linzer cookies are the ones my family always bakes: very buttery cookie with a hint of vanilla filled with red currant jelly for the perfect contrast between sweet and tart (we make red currant jelly every summer just for this).
Most important key to achieving great results when baking these is: keep the dough cool. I pre-chill my baking sheets and let the cookies rest in a cool room before baking. This way they will not spread and you will achieve picture-perfect results.
Another great tip (and I only learnt this this year) is to reduce your jelly or preserve if it is too runny, by cooking it for a little while before using. It should not be too thick either, or you’ll break the cookies when spreading.
250 g all-purpose flour
150 g butter
100 g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
red currant jelly
In a medium bowl, mix the flour and sugar. Add butter and cut it in pieces, either with two knives or with a pastry blender. Add the vanilla and the egg yolk and quickly mix everything. Divide the dough into two pieces and form discs. Let the dough rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Roll each portion to a 3 mm thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut shapes out with a cookie cutter. Cut centers out of half of the cookies with tiny cookie cutters. Put the cookies on 2 baking sheets covered with baking parchment. Put the whole cookies on one sheet and the hollow ones on the other – the baking times may differ slightly. Bake for about 10 to 12 min, until just beginning to turn golden.
Let cool, than spread solid cookies with jam. Top each solid cookie with a hollow one.