Leipziger Lerche is a unique almond and apricot marzipan pastry originating from Leipzig, Germany.
Oh my gosh! This is a recipe that I have been meaning to get up for ages now – it’s like the one that I’ve had ready, but just not quite ready. Because every time I went to go publish it, I realized that I didn’t actually have all of the measurements specified very well, or the directions……or basically anything! Geez. Does this happen to you to? I’m not always the best at writing down my recipes and adjustments as I make things so I have to go and decipher a bunch of jumbled notes later. Makes sense to me, but it probably wouldn’t to you, and I figured you deserved a cleaned up version so you wouldn’t secretly curse at me under your breath when attempting this recipe.
Anyway, it’s apricot picking time! I just had a neighbor give me a load last week, and now my in-laws said they got some more for me! So I figured a great way to celebrate this was to make some Leipziger Lerchen (Apricot Marzipan Pastries). Although, it really won’t make a dent in your apricot stash. I’m talking like, it uses approximately 3 in the recipe. So make a quadruple batch or something! And then go and make this apricot tart (from Karen’s blog – I have yet to try but I think it’s on the list of “must-make now” items) and make some pineapple apricot jam (ahem, MOM, still waiting for you to email the recipe).
Or if you are really having a creative kick, and just can’t seem to get rid of the rest of those darn things, whip up a coffee cake and some almond flavored whipped cream, and stack yourself up an apricot trifle. I did this a few weeks ago with a snickerdoodle muffin recipe I found on the web. The muffin was definitely more cupcak-ish in its sweetness factor and it made a huge mess in the tins as it seemed there was a bit too much leavening going on in that mix. But, hey, when cakey baked goods go wrong, I say, “Make a trifle.” It will always redeem you. I’ll have to make it again and see if I can write it down this next time when I’m not doing it on the fly!
So back to this little delectable pastry that does require a lot of love to make, but pays off in the end. It hails from Germany. By the way, I love enjoying foods from different countries…..most of the time. I have to admit, I’ve tried squid and we didn’t really get along. And for some reason, papaya just tastes off to me…..like armpit. I don’t know how else to describe it.
But most of the time, I’m all game! And when it comes to anything of the baked, buttery, and sweet variety, I never seem to have any qualms!
My husband was over in Europe a couple summers ago for a fellowship grant that he received. I had planned to come out for a little while, but then things were thrown off with a quick second surprise-ish pregnancy – I kind of realized it would be a little challenging and ridiculous caring for my six-month old, carrying another in the womb, and be flying and living away from my midwife for all of my check-ups yadayadayada…. So I missed out.
Luckily, my husband brought something back with him – the taste and motivation to re-create these Leipziger Lerchen. One of his friends from the program, Jules, was from Germany. After the program was over, he took a few days to go travel a little bit and have her show him the sites. She gave him a mini-tour of some areas of Germany, one being the city of Leipzig. He said the city was amazing but one of his favorite things was this little apricot marzipan pastry that they got one morning from a local bakery.
It sounded divine – a caramely almond marzipan with a hint of apricot, then layered with a fluffier almond sponge cake filling, and all contained within a sweet pastry crust. I was drooling. We had to make these!
We scoured the web for recipes, but were having little luck. And did I mention, most of the recipes were in German? So there we were, plugging everything into Google Translator to figure out at least a basic ingredient list.
And then the bitter almond problem. One recipe we found said that we’d need one – I didn’t even realize that bitter almond is very different than the almonds we eat until I started doing a little research. In fact, bitter almond can be lethal if ingested in high enough doses. But it is what is used to make almond extract. Well….guess what? It’s illegal to buy/sell bitter almonds in the U.S. Looking out for us, I guess. Anyway, we stuck with the almond extract route (since we didn’t really have another choice).
The first attempt was good, but a little too dry, and Ben just said it generally just wasn’t the same. We were missing that caramely goodness that made these over the top. So the next attempt, we just started kind of doing our thing – a little of this, taste, a little of that, how’s the consistency? And voila! They turned out fabulous!
I’ve seen some versions around on the web that simply use jam for the bottom layer. I think that could be pretty good, too, but have yet to try it because I just kind of get addicted to the idea of the apricot marzipan every time I think of them.
Now, I’ve never been to Leipzig and tried the all-famous original Leipziger Lerchen, but I have to admit, these creations we’ve made are pretty freakin’ good!
If you have ’em, make these in little tart/brioche molds (well-greased, btw – and don’t ask me how I know this), although you can use a muffin pan. I did the muffin pan for the longest time, and they turned out great, but with such a delicacy, I thought they deserved the extra “prettiness” factor so I finally found some molds on the cheap at a little local baking supply store. You can also get them on Amazon for a pretty good deal.
I do have some metric measurements included in this recipe, since we really did do most of our original experimenting by weight. We are hoping to go back and add these measurements to our other recipes over time – boy is it a lot of work, but we’ll get there for you!
I love these fresh out of the oven, or they are absolutely fabulous the next morning with a hot drink. Celebrate this little wonderful masterpiece of a pastry from Leipzig and give these a try today!
Leipziger Lerchen (Apricot Marzipan Pastry)
For the Crust:
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter 1 cube, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- Dash of salt
For the Apricot Marzipan:
- 1 cup slivered almonds 150 grams, or alternatively, you can skin whole almonds - see notes for directions
- 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 almond extract
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar 100 grams
- 1 teaspoon apricot brandy optional - see notes, or sherry
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 grams apricot 45-60, peeled and pitted, or 1 heaping tablespoon apricot preserves
For the Almond Sponge Cake Top Filling:
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter 70 grams, softened
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 70 grams
- 1/2 egg yolk
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 tablespoons apricots pureed or 2 heaping apricot preserves
- 2 tablespoons sour cream 30 grams
- 2/3 cup almond flour 75 grams
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 30 grams
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 egg whites
For the Crust:
In a food processor, cream together butter and sugar.
Add egg and blend until incorporated.
Add flour and salt and blend until dough is just formed.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in fridge until ready to assemble.
For the Apricot Marzipan:
Place almonds in a food processor.
Blend on a medium setting until finely ground, about 30-45 seconds.
Add almond extract and blend until evenly distributed.
Add powdered sugar. Mixture may appear to seize up momentarily, but will then start to mix. Blend until distributed, about 20-30 seconds. (If any powdered sugar gets stuck on side wall of processor, take a quick break and scrape down the sides so that it will mix in.)
Add apricot brandy, butter, and apricot.
Blend for for 1 and 1/2 to 2 minutes. Mixture will ball up and appear very smooth in consistency when ready.
Check consistency (it will seem almost like play dough) and process for an additional 30 seconds or so, if needed, to get it very smooth.
Place in bowl and cover (or put in plastic wrap) and place in fridge until time for assembly.
For the Almond Sponge Cake Top Filling:
In a medium mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
Mix in egg yolk until combined.
Mix in almond extract.
In process or with a hand mixer, puree apricots with sour cream until well combined.
Add apricot mixture to butter mixture and stir until combined.
In another bowl, mix together the almond flour, all-purpose flour, and cornstarch.
Add to butter mixture and blend until just incorporated.
Beat two egg whites to stiff peaks. Fold into batter.
For the Assembly:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Generously spray your brioche molds/muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
On a well-floured surface, roll out pastry dough very thin (about 1/8 inch).
Cut circular dough rounds to fit your molds (I usually do about a 4 inch diameter for standard muffin tin)
Re-roll dough as needed to get 12 pastry shells. Set scraps aside to make decorative crosses for top.
Place a marzipan round in bottom of each pastry shell.
Place a generous scoop of top filling.
Roll out remaining dough and cut 24 equal-sized skinny rectangles. Place a cross on top of each pastry.
Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until filling is set and crust and top is beginning to turn golden brown.
Let pastries cool about 10-15 minutes in tin, or until cool enough to handle.
Remove from tins and enjoy. These also taste great the next day with a hot drink!
Peeling Whole Almonds:
Boil a small pan of water on the stove. Remove from heat and add your almonds, making sure all are submerged. Soak for about 2 minutes and then drain. Peel almonds quickly. The skins will slip right off!
Dress it Down:
If you don't have apricot brandy or sherry on hand (or just don't like cooking with alcohol), you can simply eliminate it. It is such a small amount that it should not affect the consistency of your marzipan. If you do feel that your marzipan is a little dry, you can add a little extra apricot preserves or softened butter.
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