Shortbread and Prune Jam Layer Cake (Vínarterta)

  • Serves

    serves 8-10


This special-occasion cake features layers of cardamom-scented shortbread baked until golden and lightly crisp, sandwiching homemade prune filling under a thin coffee glaze. This version of this traditional Christmas cake comes to us from cookbook author Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir; it first appeared in our December 2014 issue with the story Northern Lights.


  • 2 12 cups pitted prunes
  • 1 34 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 12 tsp. ground cloves
  • 3 12 cups flour, plus more
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 14 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 14 cup brewed coffee, chilled


Step 1

Bring prunes, ¾ cup granulated sugar, the cinnamon, cloves, and ¾ cup water to a simmer in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high; cook until prunes are soft and the syrup has thickened, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly and then transfer to a food processor; purée until smooth and set purée aside.

Step 2

Whisk flour, baking powder, and cardamom in a bowl; set aside. In another bowl, and using an electric hand mixer, cream remaining granulated sugar and the butter until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the motor running, slowly add dry ingredients and the milk until dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface; knead until smooth, 1–2 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap; chill 1 hour.

Step 3

Heat oven to 375°. Divide dough into 6 balls. On a lightly floured surface, and working with 1 ball of dough at a time, roll dough into a 7" disk, about ⅙" thick. Place disks on parchment paper-lined baking sheets; bake until golden and cooked through, about 25 minutes; let cool slightly. To assemble, place 1 disk on a baking sheet fitted with a wire rack. Spread with ⅓ cup reserved prune purée. Repeat layering process with remaining disks and purée, ending with a disk. Whisk confectioners' sugar and coffee in a bowl until smooth and pour over cake; chill until icing is set, about 10 minutes. Transfer cake to a cake stand or plate to serve.

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