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