Pecan Linzer bars, indulgent pastry studded with chopped pecans in the top layer, with apricot, raspberry or your favourite jam sandwiched in the middle. The ultimate jammy bars in a sophisticated form.
Jam treats are the best
The best things are the simplest: that’s a truth so universal it sounds like a cliché.
But there is a good reason why kids like best the uncomplicated jammy dodgers out of all the possible biscuits. Jam and pastry – who would want more?
The jammy thumbprints are the ones that disappear the quickest from sad biscuit platters served at office meetings, because we know all the others will taste stale and musty.
Victoria sandwich may morph into sophisticated variations with buttercream or fresh fruit, but the sponge base spread with jam and cream can’t be beaten.
Butter and jam on toast is the ultimate comfort food, they can keep all their casserole and fancy fondues.
Hey, even untoasted bread, plain white supermarket sliced, spread thickly with butter and jam, is a source of immense pleasure and solace.
Jam is the best sweet, especially in combination with some kind of pastry.
Linzer tarts or Linzer biscuits are classic Austrian bakes, of the cannon described above.
It is shortcrust pastry filled with jam, baked as one large confection or little individual ones.
The only unique characteristic differentiating Linzer pastry from jammy dodgers is that the pastry uses ground nuts in the crust, usually hazelnuts, almonds or a mix. It has a delicious flavour thanks to that as well as a lovely, deep brownish colour when baked.
NY Times’ Sohla el-Waylly presents her version baked into bars, and it’s absolutely irresistible.
The nuts are pecans, suitably for an Americanised version, and the pastry is silly easy to make.
There is no rolling or chilling; the pastry is pressed into the tin, and the same pastry is used for the crumb topping. With a generous layer of best jam in the middle. Of course.
How to make pecan Linzer pastry
If you own a food processor it’s a five minute job. Simply pulse the nuts into powder with sugar and spices.
Then add butter to the machine and pulse it in, followed by egg and flour. Job done.
Those who have no space, no time or no use for a food processor (and I sympathise with them completely) can blitz the pecans in a clean coffee grinder or in the worst case bash them, encased in a sturdy bag, with a rolling pin.
Blind baking and open-eye baking
Half the pastry is pressed into a square brownie tin or a round cake tin of similar capacity with an offset palette knife or spatula. It should be baked for about 20 minutes until set.
In the meantime the reserved half of the pastry mix gets bulked out with chopped pecans, to be used as top layer.
When the base is baked and cooled somewhat, spread the jam lavishly over it and then crumble the pecanned-up pastry in a more or less even layer.
Half an hour’s bake later it’s ready, and it will take a lot of will power to let the bar sheet cool completely before cutting.
Those bars are incredibly lovely. Probably a little too sweet for breakfast unless, like me, you persuade yourself that weekend breakfasts should be special and cake-based.
They will keep well in an airtight container but they won’t – with things as delicious as these, I don’t even know what the point of providing storage advice is.
More bar recipes
Date shortbread bars, shortcrust slices sandwiched with date, cinnamon and orange filling. Good shortcrust pastry with naturally sweet filling is great for a treat.
Plum crumble breakfast bars, cinnamon flavoured, reduced in sugar content, are just the thing for those whose sweet tooth is awake at breakfast time.
Pistachio lemon shortbread bars, another NY Times recipe for nutty shortcrust base and tangy lemon curd topping filled with more pistachios.
More pecan recipes
Maple and pecan sticky buns, baked upside down, flavoured with cinnamon and cardamom. It's a rich and sticky, sweet and spicy bliss, best enjoyed warm!
Date and nut squares, with chunks of Medjool dates and a mix of almonds, pecans and pistachio in rich, chewy batter. There’s a reason why these are called ‘food for gods’.
Tom Kerridge’s carrot cake energy balls with pecans and walnuts are no-bake, no sugar, no nonsense bites made from goodness itself. Sweet with no added sugar, satisfyingly filling and easier to make than mud cakes.