By Karen Jurgens
One of the most ongoing traditions in our family revolves around my great-aunt Marie’s Stack Cake. Cut from a magazine at least sixty years ago, the recipe has been a cherished addition to every Christmas meal since I can remember. My older daughter, Meg, has a birthday mid-December, and she begs to have this instead of a traditional birthday cake. Since it keeps perfectly for weeks, we enjoy it through the holidays along with our other Christmas desserts.
So, what exactly is Stack Cake? Nicknamed as such by my family, the actual title is Vinarterta Prune Cake. Just as it sounds, it’s seven layers of delectable cake stacked together with a dried-fruit filling and dusted with powdered sugar. Its origins are from Iceland, and seeing as how we are crazy about this cake, it’s no surprise that our family has Viking ancestry!
Here is my family recipe:
Ingredients for filling:
2 lbs. dried prunes (may substitute other dried fruit such as apricots)
½ cup prune juice (may substitute wine or rum)
1 cup sugar
½ t. cardamom seed
1 t. vanilla
¼ t. salt
Cook prunes and juice slowly until tender, drain, and conserve the juice. (Pit prunes if using seeded ones.) Grind in a food processor until smooth or just mash for a chunkier filling. Return to heat, add back the juice, and cook fruit until the consistency of thick jam. Cool.
Ingredients for cake:
1 c. butter
4 c. sifted flour
2 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
1 t. vanilla
¼ c. milk
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in slightly beaten eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Alternate flour, salt, and baking powder with the milk, mixing until combined. Form 7 equal balls from the dough and chill for about an hour. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Using cake pans (8 inch) turned upside-down, pat out each ball of dough evenly to the edge of each pan. Bake 15-20 mins. or until the edges of cake are lightly browned. Allow layers to cool slightly before stacking with jam.
On a serving plate, begin with one layer of cake. Spread with fruit filling. Alternate cake and filling, ending with a layer of cake. Dust the top layer with confectioners’ sugar. This cake keeps well for weeks and can also be frozen for months.
Enjoy this Icelandic holiday treat!
Pop back by on Wednesday for Karen’s 3 Questions interview! And she’s giving away a free e-version of her latest release. See you there!