This is a traditional six-layer Icelandic Christmas cake that we had every year as long as I can remember. Before I get too far along in the story, please note that this cake needs to moisten so should be wrapped up and left for about five days or more before cutting! Okay, with that big piece of information out of the way, here’s more about Vinarterta…
One of my Grandfathers was Icelandic so to honour this heritage, my parents made these festive cakes. Mom and Dad would work on them together and Dad would drive around and distribute them to all the special people in their lives: the doctor, pharmacist, special friends and neighbours. Though many an Icelander would shudder, one of my friends loves to dip cubes of the cake in chocolate fondue. Hey, don’t knock it ‘till you’ve tried it!
When I’ve looked at other recipes for Vinarterta they vary. Some say you should roll the dough to make it really thin, while others omit the almond flavouring. All I know is that my Mom’s cakes were amazing and this is now the recipe I use to make my own.
One thing that the current generation of great-granddaughters have asked is why we make it in round cake pans when we slice it into rectangles anyways? You do get more efficient slices if you use a square pan, however, then you don’t get to eat those tasty little leftover ends either. Any way you slice it, our Christmas feast wouldn’t be as amazing without this cake.
- 1 cup butter
- 1 ½ cups fine granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons cream
- 4 cups of flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp ground cardamom seed
- One pound pitted prunes
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- Juice of 1 lemon
Add prunes to a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let the prunes plump up. This is about a 15 minute process though it depends on how moist the prunes are to start with. Remove from the stove and let cool enough to run the prunes through a food grinder or blender. Blend the prunes in batches, adding some of the water that they were boiled in or a little additional water if needed. Once all of the prunes are blended, return the prunes to the saucepan and add one cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and bring to a boil and add the juice of one lemon. Simmer, stirring often to the thickness of jam. Set aside and let cool.
Cream butter. Add sugar gradually and eggs one at a time. Sift dry ingredients and work into the first mixture. Add flavouring and cream, knead in all the flour and divide into six equal parts. Pat each part into a 9” greased and floured round cake tins and bake to a golden brown at 275F. Remove from cake tin when hot as they become quite hard.
Cool and put together with prune filling.
Wrap the completed cakes in saran wrap. Place in a tin or wrap again in foil. Keep at room temperature about 5 days until moist and then keep in the fridge.