Many a blogger will tell you how blogging has helped them discover hitherto unknown aspects of their personality. For me, working with food, fresh produce and props has helped me discover my personal sense of colour and aesthetics. Another unexpected one has been the discovery of me as a 'jam lady'. Funnily enough, I don't eat that much jam but I do enjoy making them. My mother, of course, can't get over how her kitchen klutz of a daughter found her inner jam lady!! C'est la Vie!!
So, how does this jam lady make her jams?? Well.. they are made with the fruit of the season, without any commercial pectin and not cloyingly sweet. I am not pedantic about their consistency. As long as it's spreadable, I am good to go! And this weekend, I made a jar of plum jam. Plums have a natural tartness which in my dictionary makes them a perfect candidate for jams.
And when you make jam, you've got to make jam biscuits. Whether they were made at home or bought from the supermarket, every one has had their fill of them as a child. Mine came from the local, neighbourhood bakery!
The ones I am sharing with you today are the cookie version of the Austrian classic, Linzer Torte. Originated in the early 1700s, the Linzer Torte is nothing but a posh Jam Tart that is filled with black currant preserve and then topped off with a lattice crust. The cookies use the same principle but a different presentation. It is two almond flavoured cookies that sandwich a layer of jam. The upper cookie has a cut-out in the centre that lets the jam peek out.
I made these cookies in two batches. I nearly gave up with the first batch. This is an extremely soft dough that wasn't helped by the extreme humidity that we are facing these days, thanks to the rains. The dough kept breaking and poor quality cookie cutters had a pair of flower cut-outs looking like a pair of eyes that people carve on the pumpkin during Halloween. If you look in the background of some of the photographs, you will get a glimpse of them.
Highly frustrated, I switched on the air-conditioning and decided to go with one big cut-out in the centre. This plan worked a lot more smoothly.
Are these cookies worth the effort?? Most definitely yes! The almonds are toasted and the resultant nuttiness enhances the flavour profile of these cookies. Once completely cooled, you will taste the subtler flavours of cinnamon and lemon. And topping it all off is that plum jam that retains a certain tartness that cuts through all the sugar while the jam itself gets more.. jammy! And the fruity freshness that bursts through is simply delightful.
The cookies taste even better the next day as the jam helps the cookies to soften and the flavours to mingle. So, if you have time on your hand, these cookies are worth your time and effort.
As a child, the fascination of jam biscuits was in seeing the vibrantly coloured jam peek out through the cookie. All these years on, the same fascination endures!!