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Maybe It's Just Me... and Chocolate--Vinarterta Recipe

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Maybe It's Just Me... and Chocolate--Vinarterta Recipe

Colleen | Jul 1, 2003 12:25 AM

Here is the recipe that several of you requested. I hope you enjoy it. You have all re-inspired me. I was so upset after the last time, that I haven't made it for a few years. It's from a 1970s cookbook put out by the Laura Secord company, and contains a lot of Canadian regional specialties. I've included the little explanation that went with the recipe, and the notes at the end are the change I made. Thanks, guys.

Vinarterta
From The Laura Secord Canadian Cook Book, by Laura Secord (McClelland & Stewart, 1977)

Before there were schools in Iceland, students went to the Continent to study and of course picked up foreign customs and ideas. An example is this recipe from Manitoba where many Icelandic people settled: originally, the multi-layered dessert was named for an opera that was playing in Vienna, but it eventually came to be Vinarterta, meaning Viennese Torte.

Cake:

5 cups All-Purpose Flour (stir with a fork to aerate before measuring)
3 tsp. Baking Powder
1 cup (8 oz., 227 g) Butter, softened
1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
3 large Eggs
1/2 cup 10% Cream (Coffee Cream, Cereal Cream, or Half-and-Half)
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Almond Extract

Prune Filling:

2 lbs. (16 oz., 900 g) Prunes
2 cups Water
2 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
1 tsp. Cardamom Seeds, finely ground

Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Grease six 9-inch (23-cm) round layer cake pans.

In a small bowl, sift or blend together the flour and baking powder. In a large bowl, cream butter, then gradually blend in sugar and eggs. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with mixture of cream and flavourings.

Divide dough into six portions. Roll each out on a lightly floured surface and fit into prepared pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool, then turn out of pans onto racks.

Simmer prunes and water together until liquid has been absorbed. Allow mixture to cool a little, then remove stones and put prunes through food grinder/processor (if they’ve been cooked enough, they can be forced through a wire sieve). Stir in sugar and cardamom. Place back in pot and cook mixture over high heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Spread between cooled cake layers.

Ice with thin butter icing, letting it drip down the sides of the cake.

Prepare this cake at least a day before, as it becomes pleasantly moist after standing.

Notes:
- I used a mixture of raisins and prunes, but traditionally it’s all prunes.
- I think I added a little grated lemon peel (about 1/2 tsp.—orange would be good, too) to the prune mixture; also a little cinnamon (about 1 tsp.) and possibly cloves (about 1/2 tsp.). I also may have added a small amount (1/8 to 1/4 tsp.) of cardamom to the cake dough with the flavourings. The objective here is not a heavily spiced cake, but an overall effect of a pleasant spiciness that blends with the flavours of the prunes, cake, and icing.
- I made more layers than six. The layers in my sister-in-law’s cakes were quite thin—perhaps 3/8 to 1/4 inch (about 5 mm) when baked. That’s what I tried to replicate, and I think I wound up with 10 or 11 (or more) layers. I cut the baking time down to five minutes, and adjusted up from there until I found a time that worked (don’t recall what it was). I baked these in relays, as I didn’t have enough pans. The short baking time allowed me to get away with it.
- When making cake layers this thin, each prune layer is also thin—about half the thickness of the cake layer.
- This makes a BIG cake. Next time I would bake the layers in 8-inch square or 9 x 13-inch rectangular pans and cutting the layers in halves (or quarters) to make two loaf-size cakes, about 8” x 4”. That was how my sister-in-law did it—I assume it was easier to make multiple cakes that way.
- I used a mixture of icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) mixed with milk to get a thin icing, and added a little vanilla. That was spread over the top of the cake and allowed to drip down the sides. You could also use a thin layer of standard butter icing.
- The texture of this cake DOES improve with standing time.
- Someone mentioned dried cherries—I’ve never tried it, but dried cherries, or a mixture of dried cherries and prunes, would probably be great.

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