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The Hirshon Icelandic Christmas Cake - Vínarterta

The Hirshon Icelandic Christmas Cake – Vínarterta

  • Total Time: 0 hours


Units Scale
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoon cream (half and half or heavy cream)
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-ground cardamom
  • 3 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ***
  • For the Filling:
  • 1 1/2 pounds prunes
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp. brandy (optional but TFD likes it)
  • ***
  • For the Buttercream Icing:
  • 1/4 cup butter (soft)
  • 2 cups sifted icing sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cream
  • 1 tsp each almond extract and vanilla paste


  1. For the Cake:
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 F (350 F if using convection setting).
  3. Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, (scrape the sides of the mixer), blending well before adding the next egg.
  5. Add the cream and the almond flavoring.
  6. Combine the salt, cardamom, baking powder and 3 cups of the flour together. Add to the butter mixture and blend well.
  7. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured board and knead in the last cup of flour.
  8. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and use an 8″ round or square cake pan as a cutter.
  9. CHEF TIP: I find it easier to roll the dough out right on a sheet of parchment paper, use the pan to cut around the dough, remove the excess dough, then lift the sheet of parchment paper with the trimmed dough on the baking sheet. You can fit two cookie disks on each baking sheet.
  10. With a fork, dock (pierce) the cake disks over the entire surface.
  11. Bake for 7 – 10 minutes or until the cookie disk starts to turn a light golden brown colour. Let them cool.
  12. For the Prune Filling:
  13. In a heavy saucepan, combine the prunes (without pits), brown sugar, brandy, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.
  14. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn the mixture down to a simmer and cook until softened (about 15 minutes).
  15. Purée the mixture with an immersion blender or place in a food processor and puree until the mixture is very smooth. The mixture will be very thick. Add the vanilla extract.
  16. Keep the mixture warm until you are ready to fill the cake layers.
  17. For the Cake Assembly:
  18. Place the first cake disk on a cake board or turntable.
  19. Spread some of the prune filling on the cake disk, covering the top thoroughly.
  20. CHEF TIP: I find it easier to determine the amount of filling needed for each layer by measuring (or my preferred method is weighing the filling amount on a scale) and dividing by six, using that amount of filling per layer. The more even the layers, the better it will look once cut. This cake is all about the lovely thin layers of cake and filling – it is visually very beautiful.
  21. Repeat the layers until all seven layers of cake and filling are all used.
  22. Wrap the completed cake in double layers of plastic wrap and store in a pantry at room temperature for two days. This allows the cake to soften and the flavours to assimilate.
  23. After two days, either ice the top of the cake with buttercream and serve (small slices), or wrap without icing in plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze the cake.
  24. For the Buttercream:
  25. Using a medium bowl, use a mixer on low speed, combine the butter and icing sugar. (Alternatively, use a spoon to mix the butter and icing sugar together)
  26. Add the vanilla bean paste, almond extract and 1 tablespoon of the milk.
  27. Beat in just enough remaining milk to make the icing smooth. It will gradually become spreadable. If it is too thick to spread easily, add a drop or two of milk. If the icing is too thin, just add more sifted icing sugar until you get the consistency you want. Ideally, it should be quite thick.
  28. Spread about ½ an inch thick layer of the buttercream icing on the top layer of the Vínarterta.
  29. Chill in order to firm up the icing before cutting.
  30. Once the buttercream is firm, use a knife (warmed with hot tap water and dried) to cut cleanly into small portions.
  31. Typically the pieces of Vínarterta are quite dainty – 1 ½ inch by ½ inch pieces Since the cake is quite tall with seven layers, this is a nice sized portion.
  32. STORAGE: Store the cake wrapped at room temperature, if it is not iced. If the cake is iced, store it in the refrigerator for up to three days, covered in an airtight container. Bring the cake to room temperature before serving.
  33. FREEZING: The cake freezes well. Wrap it very well and store for up to three months. If you are going to store the cake in the freezer, ice the cake after you thaw it.
  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours
  • Category: Recipes


  • Calories: 1977.93 kcal
  • Sugar: 201.07 g
  • Sodium: 503.07 mg
  • Fat: 70.91 g
  • Saturated Fat: 35.08 g
  • Trans Fat: 1.88 g
  • Carbohydrates: 324.72 g
  • Fiber: 18.37 g
  • Protein: 25.43 g
  • Cholesterol: 282.06 mg

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