Sunday, December 9, 2012

16 Days Until Christmas - Vinatarta! (re-post)

ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 26, 2011! (Re-posting for Christmas 2012, Because I don't want to re-write the whole thing, since I already did it last year... AND because it is the most popular post on my blog! So Here it is: minimally edited from last year when I wrote it:)

You might be thinking: "Vina-whata?"

I don't really know what you are thinking, because this is the kind of thing that you either like, or don't... Unless you are like me, and at 6 years old, thought it was the most disgusting thing disguising itself as a Christmas cookie, Then waited until you got older to try it again and loved it... I have come to the personal conclusion that Vinatarta is not a kid's ideal Christmas food. It has prunes in it... According to my 6 year old brain... prunes make you poop... Who wants a Christmas cake that makes you poop, I mean really... well, unless you can't, and you really need to, then maybe you want to just eat prunes

Ok, so far, this post is not going so well, I am talking about poop and Christmas cake together... way to sell it....

Vinatarta is an Icelandic Canadian thing...  Back in the late 1800's when a vast majority of Icelanders came to Canada, This was their dessert (Obviously, they had other ones, but this one is distinctly Icelandic... well, Icelandic-Canadian if we want to get specific). My great grandparents, were in this group, and my grandpa, and then my mom, grew up with this. It is a tradition of sorts to make Vinatarta at Christmas.

Because I haven't really liked it until now, my mom never really made it, and my great grandma's recipe was lost to us. So I had to scour the internet, and I came across a few recipes that were all very very similar. I printed off a few and then last weekend, when I went home to visit, we made Vinatarta from our own recipe adapted from the few I found on line.
Want to know what makes our Vinatarta the best? Rum... Because rum is good, but you could be boring and easily just use water too.

There was a recipe on Swerve Calgary... But the one we used was closer to the one that is posted in the comments section of that same article.  Only with rum.... and probably a little more cardamom because my Mom likes it.

To make the cookie/cake layers:

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. baking powder
4 cups of flour
3 TBSP heavy cream
1 tsp Almond Extract
1 1/2 tsp. Cardamom

Cream butter. Add sugar, and beat well. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat Well. Add Almond Extract here also.
Sift the dry ingredients together. Add to the wet, alternating with the Heavy Cream (starting and ending with the dry). Knead well. Divide the dough into 5 or 6 even balls (depending on how many layers you want... we do 6). Spread each ball onto the back of a round cake pan. Unless you have 6 round cake pans all the same size, you will have to work in batches... We did 2 at a time. Let the cake pan cool down a little before you spread the next layer on.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Bake about 10 minutes. Keep a close eye, and remove from the oven when the edges are starting to brown.

To make the Prune filling:

Place, approx. 1 pound of dried, pitted prunes in a large saucepan. Just barely cover with water (this is where we used rum... mixed with water, we would've had to use the whole bottle... just use to taste if you choose). Simmer until the prunes are soft.
Purée in a food processor (use water/rum) if you need more liquid to get the processor to actually process- like we did)
Once puréed, return to the saucepan with 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup rum (or prune juice). Cook until thick (you are making a prune jam/butter deal here... kind of like making Apple Butter).  Add spices to taste... One recipe called for 2 tsp. of Cinnamon, another for cloves, and yet another for cardamom. We used all 3, until it tasted perfect for us. Just keep tasting until you like what you have. Cool Completely.

To Assemble:
Pick out your ugliest cake layer and put it on the bottom. Spread an even layer of filling over top (using enough to all your layers are even). Put another cake on top, and spread with filling again. Save the best cake layer for the top
Once all assembled, Cover well with plastic wrap and let sit for AT LEAST 24 hours. Older recipes say 2 weeks.  Vinatarta freezes well also.

 You can cut slabs of cake if you choose, or cut into nice little rectangles instead.  Another option is to frost the top with Almond butter cream, but my mom didn't want anything to do with that. And I don't think it needs it.

Have a Very Merry Holiday Season, and I hope you try this wonderful Christmas cake. Unless you are a kid, then you might not like it... I sure didn't... But I do now, and that is what I was trying to say... very ineloquently. 

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