Vinarterta comes to us compliments of Helen’s Icelandic heritage. It has been handed down through her family for generations, and is served only on festive occasions.
Shortbread (6 layers):
- 1 cup butter (no substitute) 250 mL
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar 375 mL
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp. cream OR evaporated milk 30 mL
- 1 tbsp. almond extract 15 mL
- 4 cups flour 1L
- 1 tsp. baking powder 5 mL
- 1 tsp. ground cardamom seed 5 mL
- 12 oz. pkg. pitted prunes 340 g
- 1/2 cup water in which prunes have been boiled 125 mL
- 1 cup white sugar 250 mL
- 1 tbsp. cinnamon 15 mL
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/4 cup butter (4 tbsp.) 60 mL
- 2 cups icing sugar 500 mL
- 1-2 tbsp. milk 15-30 mL
- 1 tsp. almond extract 5 mL
1. To make the shortbread layers, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well each time. Add cream and almond extract and beat well.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder and ground cardamom and add to creamed mixture a little at a time. You will “need” to “knead” the flour into the mixture. (A dough hook is a great boon in today’s kitchen.)
3. Divide the dough into 6 equal parts.
4. Line a 9″ (23 cm) square baking pan with foil. Pat 1 part of the dough into the pan. Remove foil with dough, and place on a cookie sheet. Repeat 5 times. Bake the final piece of dough in the cake pan.
5. Bake the shortbread at 375°F ( 190°C) for 10-12 minutes, until just lightly browned on the edges. Turn over carefully onto a cooling rack; let cool with the foil on for a couple of minutes, then remove the foil and let cool completely.
6. To make the filling, cover the prunes with water and boil until soft. Add more water if necessary during cooking. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup ( 125 mL) of water.
7. Put prunes and 1/2 cup ( 125 mL) of water in a blender and process until smooth. (Helen’s grandmother never had it so easy!) A hand blender also works well.
8. Add sugar, cinnamon and vanilla to pureed prunes in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let cool.
9. Layer cooled shortbread with cooled prune filling, beginning and ending with a shortbread layer.
10. To make the butter icing, mix together all the ingredients until creamy. If the icing is too stiff to spread, add a bit more milk, 1 tsp. (5 mL) at a time. This icing should be a bit on the stiff side.
11. Ice the top of the cake.
12. Wrap the cake in foil or plastic wrap and keep it airtight for 3-4 days. This gives the shortbread layers a chance to soften up.
Makes 72 slices.
SERVING SUGGESTION: Slice ½” (1.3 cm) slices and cut each slice in 2″ (5 cm) pieces. (Cut in small pieces like a fruit cake.)
NOTE: This will keep for a month in a cool place. It freezes well for longer storage.