The Sous-Pastry-Chef in training: One-handed Snowy Nut Linzer Biscuits

“All chefs are like Jewish mothers. They want to feed you and feed you and impress you. It’s an eagerness to please.” Padma Lakshmi

Every self-respecting professional would know when to train the next generation…

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The Sous-Chef de Cuisine (under-chef of the kitchen) is the second-in-command and direct assistant of the Chef de Cuisine – in a baking lover’s case of course: that of the Chef Patisserie. This person will be responsible for scheduling the kitchen staff (and the kitchen stuff…like packing out and mixing up all the “reachables” very soon…), or substituting when the head chef is off-duty (for example being busy training and organising the sous-chef). Also, this person(a) is accountable for the kitchen’s inventory (like eating it all up), cleanliness (in his own understanding o what clean is), organization (so the Head Chef will definitely not find anything at all…), and the ongoing training of its entire staff (whoever will be brave enough to enter the kitchen when he is in there…). A sous-chef’s duties can also include carrying out the head chef’s directives (particularly looking forward to that), conducting line checks (maybe not in the right order), and overseeing the timely rotation of all food product (yummy-yummy-yummy). Smaller operations may not have a sous-chef, while larger operations may have more than one…however, their company is priceless and invaluable…

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It is entertaining how much can a person multitask, when training another…how the whole world can change with love and enthusiasm…one can even make perfect cakes, biscuits and cookies with just one arm and a heart…Linzer Cookies were one of the first recipes I have learnt from my Austrian-Swabian and Jewish Grandmothers, therefore, it will be the first one I am teaching to my sous-chef. This recipe is versatile, tasty, crumbly and can be kept for many weeks. It tells stories about family, festive memories and the eternal love that true baking can communicate…

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The Linzertorte is believed to have originated in the City of Linz, Austria in the early 1700s. Traditionally this torte consisted of a crust made with flour, ground nuts (traditionally almonds), sugar, egg yolks, spices and lemon zest that was filled with black currant preserves and then topped with a lattice crust. Linzer Cookies use the same ingredients as a Linzertorte, only presented in a different way. That is, two almond flavored cookies are sandwiched together with a layer of jam. They are so pretty, with their top cookie dusted with a thin white coating of powdered sugar and a cutout so you can see the colour of the jam. When the cookies are cut in a round shape with a round cutout in the center, they are known as Linzer “Eyes” (Linzer Augen).

Recipe
150 g whole almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts
260 g all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of one small orange
226 g butter, room temperature
150 g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large (40 grams) egg yolks
Topping
60 g icing Sugar
120 ml orange Jam

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Method
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Place the nuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and once the nuts have cooled, finely grind. In a separate bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, ginger, salt, and orange zest. In another bowl beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and egg yolks. Finally, beat in the ground nuts and then the flour mixture. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm,

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove ball of dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough until it is about 5 cm thick then cut out the cookies. Place the cookies about 2 cm apart on the prepared baking sheet. Use a smaller cookie cutter to cut out the centers of half of the cookies on the baking sheet. Reroll any scraps and cut out the remaining cookies. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

To assemble Cookies place the cut out cookies on a baking sheet and lightly dust the tops with powdered sugar. Spread a thin layer of jam on the bottom surface of the full cookie (top of cookie will face out). Place the cut-out cookie on top and gently sandwich them together. Using a small spoon or a piping bag, fill the cut-out with a little more jam. The filled cookies will soften beautifully when stored.

“If you want to become a great chef, you have to work with great chefs.” Gordon Ramsay

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