Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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vinarterta is a strictly Icelandic cake, even though its name means “Viennese cake” and its origins are most likely Viennese by way of Denmark. Traditionally served with coffee at weddings and Christmas since around 1860, the festive, rectangular delicacy comprised five to nine layers of fruit jam and shortbread pastry, although contemporary versions incorporate baking powder–leavened bread in order to achieve a lighter consistency. It is frequently iced with a simple sugar glaze that can be laced with vodka or bourbon. The dough is often flavored with almonds, and the fruit filling spiked with cardamom, vanilla, or red wine. In the late nineteenth century, prunes, once a luxury item in Iceland, were gradually replaced in many households by less expensive fruits, such as the rhubarb that proliferates in the countryside. Because vinarterta has a long shelf life, it can last for several months when well wrapped.