Baking History

A Taste For The Past

Linzertorte (Novel Food 4)

Posted by bakinghistory on June 21, 2008

A traditional Linzer tart made with almonds, spices, and berry jam.

Novel Food is a lovely, seasonal blog event that pairs food and literature—hosted by Simona of Briciole and Lisa of Champaign Taste.


This time I chose to recreate a food item from the novel The Inn at Lake Devine , by one of my absolute favorite contemporary American writers: Elinor Lipman.

In this novel the author addresses the issues of antisemitism and prejudice, of religious and ethnic barriers and the courage to cross them. It is no small feat to explore these themes in a novel and Ms Lipman succeeds at doing that through a flawless, witty tale in which sharp social satire intertwines with romance and tragedy, and destiny takes unpredictable turns.

The most remarkable aspect of the novel, in fact, is that it carries across its message clearly and powerfully by describing how the social and historical context affects the personal and the individual—and vice versa.

The novel unfolds at a swift pace and is masterfully written in a language peppered by humor—and a few Yiddish words here and there.  The story is told through the voice of Natalie Marx, who embarks in her own personal crusade against bigotry and social injustice and finds love in the process.

Food is present throughout the novel, as a metaphor for separateness and closeness, identity and nurture. Natalie realizes that her call is becoming a chef and through food she will finally, albeit unwittingly, conquer a local example of antisemitism—the Inn that gives the title to the novel itself.

Here is an excerpt from the novel in which the Linzertorte is actually mentioned:

Ahead of Nelson, a woman in a blue lace dress, with hair the smoky gray of cat fur, turned to speak. “What’s the name of your hotel again?” she asked.

“The Inn at Lake Devine”

“Is that near Rutland?”

“Very close. Do you know Rutland?”

“I have a cousin there,” she said. She held her plate out to the chef overseeing the Linzertorte. “Is it a white hotel with a big porch and a lawn that goes down to the water?”

“That’s us,”said Nelson.

She paused before asking, “And how long has your family owned it?”

“All my life,” Nelson said, with the polish of a spelling bee finalist. “And my grandparents before that.”

“My cousins told me about you,” said the woman, minus the smile of a satisfied customer.

From the original recipe by Florence Kreisler Greenbaum

In: “The International Jewish Cookbook”, 1919—USA


8 oz. flour

8 oz. shelled almonds (not blanched)

8 oz. sugar

4 oz. butter (room temperature)

2 eggs

1/2 tbsp brandy

1 generous pinch of allspice

1 pinch of salt

2 jars berry jam (e.g., strawberry, raspberry)

Grind the almonds with the sugar until powdery. Mix with the flour, spice and salt. Work in the butter at low speed until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the eggs, lightly beaten, and the brandy, and mix at low speed until the dough holds together. Wrap the dough in wax paper and let rest in a cool place for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Prepare a 10-inch springform pan.

Take 2/3 of the dough and roll to about 1/4-inch thickness on a generously floured surface. The dough is crumbly and is tricky to roll. Alternatively it can be patted into the pan. Line the pan bottom and half way up the sides. Prick all over the dough with a fork, then fill with jam. Roll the remaining dough and cut in strips to form a lattice top on the jam layer.

Bake the tart for 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan placed on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold it and let it finish cooling on the rack.

The tart is better made one day ahead.


13 Responses to “Linzertorte (Novel Food 4)”

  1. Simona said

    A very interesting novel, one I didn’t know about and must add to me to-read list. And the tart sounds delicious. I must try this use of ground almonds in the crust. So, the almonds still have their skin on, right? Thanks for participating in our event.

  2. bakinghistory said

    @ Simona: Thanks, and thanks for hosting anther edition of Novel Food. Yes, the almonds still have the skin on—that is specified in the original recipe, I found that unblanched almonds are easier to ground, they turn less oily.

  3. As an English Lit major (long ago), I love the idea of “Novel Food” – I’m going to have to start thinking about what I might do. The Linzer tart looks incredible – I had been told once in a class that it was best to use a thicker jam paste that one can only get commercially, but it looks like you’ve had great results with regular jam, so I am going to try again.

  4. Lisa said

    Beautiful still-life photo, and a beautiful Linzertorte. I’ve eaten this dessert only a couple of times, and I still remember how delicious it was. The novel sounds really wonderful; another one I must check the library for! I think I’ll do that today. I love finding out about authors I’m not familiar with. Thank you so much for enriching our novel food event with your contributions!

  5. bakinghistory said

    @ T.W. Novel Food takes place seasonally, and it is announced on both Simona’s and Lisa’s blogs. The next should be the Fall edition.
    I did not know that for the Linzertorte a thicker jam would be preferable, in fact, but as I prefer less sugary desserts I chose a commercial jam with a low ratio of sugar. In this recipe the dough is made with a rather high amount of sugar, and before tasting it I wondered if that would have compromised the result. In fact, it is sweet but not too much, and it definitely improves with time.

    @ Lisa: Thank you! The novel is very good and I think you will like it. Thanks for hosting Novel Food, I really enjoyed participating again!

  6. sciopina said

    Simply delicious with a cup of tea..

  7. Louise said

    Hi Manuela,
    Thank you so much for sharing EVERYTHING! I wasn’t aware of Novel Food and may engage it as one of my first participating blog events. The Linzertorte looks absolutely amazing and of course, your personal touch is always a pleasant addition.

  8. bakinghistory said

    @ Sciopina: Thanks! In my opinion, this is one of the best tarts to serve with tea 🙂

    @ Louise: Thank you Luise! Novel Food is such a nice blog event, and I look forward to seeing the literary work and related recipe that you will submit 🙂

  9. Lisa said

    Hi again: I got the novel, I am reading it, and I do love it. Thanks again for the recommendation!

  10. bakinghistory said

    @ Lisa: Thank you! I am glad you like it! 🙂

  11. […] Trifles with Vanilla Custard Sauce and Strawberry Pecan Shortbread Crumble Bars from Baking Bites, Linzertorte from Baking History, Plum Galette from Bird Food, Key Lime Pound Cake from Blake Bakes, Mulberry […]

  12. Simona said

    Like Lisa, I also got the novel, read it and loved it. Thank you!

  13. bakinghistory said

    @ Simona: I am so happy you liked the novel, I have read it more than once and I always enjoy it.

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