Vínarterta: what is it? It is a very flavourful, seven-layered Icelandic cake – a vintage recipe from the 1800s. The cake consists of thin layers cookie-like dough, rolled out, docked and baked just until it starts to take on a bit of colour on the edges. The traditional filling is made from prunes. For many folks, using dried prunes is a surprising filling, but you have to trust me – this stuff is good! The prunes are infused with what is known as the warming spices cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. These spices elevate the taste of the filling to something that you just know will be wonderful. The colour of the pureed prune is such a rich hue of black-brown that it makes a spectacular show in between the layers of the Vinarterta cake.
Many other fillings can be used, including seasonal apricot filling and raspberry filling. My daughter and I were discussing making a version with all three fillings in one cake. I think that this could be my next cake challenge. I would be tempted to make the layers even thinner so that I could experiment with the different coloured fillings.
In culinary training, we were introduced to many cultural desserts in Baking and Pastry Arts, and this cake was one of the classic cakes we discussed during our lessons. It is delicious! I had forgotten all about this cake until my neighbour mentioned to me that she had in her possession her grandma’s vintage recipe for Vínarterta and that she had always wanted to try making it.
We spent a lovely morning making the cake together using the vintage recipe. As far as she knew, her grandmother’s recipe had sadly not been made by anyone in the family since her passing in 1978. She told me that her grandmother’s parents came to Canada in the 1800s and her grandmother was born in Canada. I am sure that there are great stories about baking this Icelandic recipe and many more dishes in their kitchen – I would have loved to be a part of that. I felt that making this cake using her recipe was a great way of honouring her grandmother. And besides, I love baking using vintage recipes.