This is the new version of a dessert I posted on this blog years ago. It’s a pastry I got to know (and very likely addicted to) when I lived in Leipzig, Saxony. Lerche means lark and originally this recipe wasn’t a dessert. Yep, people used to kill larks and stuff them into a shortbread crust to eat them. Eventually the king banned the lark hunt and a baker invented a dessert version, made from a shortbread crust and filled with nuts and jam. Many bakeries in Leipzig still produce this traditional dessert and it is a popular gift.
The combination of some kind of shortbread and a marzipan topping or filling is very typical for a lot of German desserts. They are usually small and rich and, if stored correctly, they keep for a couple of days. The marzipan filling contains egg whites for leavening and stabilisation. When I made these the first time, I came up with a complicated egg white substitute. After several years of vegan baking I learned that this is not necessary at all. Usually the sugar in the marzipan does this work, too.
Leipziger Lerchen (makes six muffin sized pastries)
(adapted from this recipe)
100 g ( 3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
40 g (3 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon) evaporated cane juice or regular sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
40 g ( 3 tablespoons) refined coconut oil, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons cold water, or more
35 g (2 1/2 tablespoons) refined coconut oil, room temperature
120 g (4.2 oz) marzipan, chopped
1 pinch salt
4 tablespoons soy milk (or water)
1 tablespoon Kirschwasser (rum or soy milk work, too)
30 g (1/4 cup) flour
6 teaspoons apricot jam
To make the dough:
Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl and mix well. Add coconut oil and water. Use a hand-held mixer to knead the dough. Add more water, if necessary.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Grease six holes of a muffin tin an set aside. Between two layers of plastic foil, carefully roll out the dough. Cut out 6 circles (about 10 cm/4 inch). Press into the muffin tins and trim the edges. Reserve the leftover dough.
To make the filling:
Combine oil, marzipan, salt, milk, and Kirschwasser in a bowl. Beat with a hand-held blender until smooth. Add flour and beat until combined.
Place a teaspoon of jam in each each pastry and thinly spread it across the bottom. (Make sure it’s not a heaping teaspoon. If there’s too much jam, it might raise to the top and explode all over the pastry.) Top with filling. Roll out the leftover dough and cut into stripes. Place two stripes on top of each pie, forming a cross. Pinch the edges. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool completely before removing the pies from the pan. (Use a knife to loosen the crust.)