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I just can’t imagine Christmas without vínarterta! When I was a kid, the vínarterta was strictly off limits to us unless it was cut and placed on a serving dish. And even then, we had to wait a discreet amount of time until guests had helped themselves to the cake.
I was always pleased to help when Mom asked me to cut the cake for the guests. This was a great opportunity to cut away and savour bits that I pretended weren’t suitable for guests.
The morning after dinner parties was always wonderful too. We would get up very early and tiptoe into the dining room where the table was still covered in white linen and plastic covered goodie plates. We’d each snake a hand underneath the plastic to snag a piece of vínarterta.
Sometimes, there wasn’t any vínarterta left on the serving dish. This called for more devious action, generally done alone and away from the peering eyes of possible tattletales. I’d walk into the kitchen ostensibly to put something away and then sidle over to where the vínarterta tin was. And then carefully, carefully, remove the lid and gently, gently (shhhh!!) remove the wrapping from the cake. A swift but studied swish of the long sharp knife to shave off a whole row of the cake. Delectable!! It’s true. Plunder really does taste better! (It was years before I learned how it was that Mom somehow knew about this. I thought it was because the others had shaved off too much so that the cake had visibly shrunk. But it turned out that she knew because she had done exactly the same thing as a child!)
Even though I no longer have to sneak into the kitchen to get my vínarterta fix, I assure you that this year’s cake was as stellar as ever. In fact, we think it might be even more stellar than usual. The only differences from other years were:
- I made the cake layers and my sister made the prune filling rather than vice versa.
- We only made one cake instead of two.
- I ground cardamom seeds instead of using preground cardamom.
- My sister snuck in a few extra prunes so there was more filling.
- I aged it in the kitchen rather than in the slightly colder area by the back door.
As I eat the cake over the Christmas holiday, I can never decide at what time of day it’s better. Is it really best after dinner with a small glass of eau de vie? Or is it best in the morning with good strong coffee? Or is it best on its own as a surreptitious afternoon snack? Hmmm, there’s still a tiny bit left. Perhaps I should go downstairs and see….
- Vínarterta recipe
- Christmases Past “Disaster Averted”
- earlier posts about vínarterta:
* Better late than never (December 2006)
* Mmmm… vínarterta (January 2007)
* pre-pitted prunes, eh? (December 2007)
* Yesterday was Cake Day (December 2009)
* Have you made your Vinarterta yet? (December 2012)
- Advent days featuring vinarterta:
* 7 Dec – Advent 2002
* 7 Dec – Advent 2003
* 3 Dec – Advent 2003
alternate spellings for the cake: vine tarta, vinaterta, vine terta