pre-pitted prunes, eh?

(click on images for larger views and more photos)


Every November for several years, my sister and I have spent a day in November making Ví­narterta. (Of course, it doesn’t really take a whole day to make the cake… but we neeeeed to play Scrabble too.)

Past experience has taught us that extra care must be taken when making the filling. The recipe is filled with cautionary notes: stir constantly; don’t forget the vanilla; cut each prune to check for pits. This year, as we closed up the recipe, we added quartered beside the recipe entry for prunes….

Because even though each prune had been cut in half, we still heard that unmistakable rattle of pit when we began to puree the prunes. And so began of the painstaking search for stray prune pit(s).

searching for prune pits The only sure way to search for stray prune pit(s) is by hand. (It is not recommended to use one’s feet.) Alas, finding a pit doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t more. In the end, we located one pit and a few shards.

Sadly, the prune pit(s) search was not the last of our problems. I don’t know why but we seem to have difficulty remembering to add the vanilla.

add vanilla I’m afraid this is not the first time that we’ve had to scrape filling off of the cake, put it back into the pot and add the vanilla!!

Happily, that was the end of our woes (we managed not to burn any of the layers). And at last the Ví­narterta was ready for wrapping and storing. Please don’t tell anyone that the bottom layer doesn’t have any vanilla in it.

edit 11:15 EST
I contemplated adding this as a post for Susan’s (Food Blogga) Eat Christmas Cookies Event but then decided that cake doesn’t really fall into the same category at all as cookies.
This entry was posted in baking, cakes, pastries, cookies, etc., dessert, food & drink on by .

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17 responses to “pre-pitted prunes, eh?

  1. Katie

    Now, if you were French you’d just leave the pits in and let the eaters beware. Cherry clafouti is never pitted… and a friend of mine made plum jam without removing pits.

    I’m afraid I’m with you on this one. I remove the pits from plum and peach preserves the same way – cook first, then use fingers!

  2. your sister

    Hmm, maybe Katie’s way would be better than cutting in half and hoping we got them all. Next time, ejm, maybe we should try cooking them whole, and then manually checking each one before they get ground up. It would take about the same amount of time cutting them, and might be a more reliable way of finding all the pits.

  3. ejm Post author

    You could be on to something, Katie! But then again, with the water, the prunes get pretty soupy so it might be difficult to check them after they’re cooked. It’s too bad we couldn’t try experimenting by doing half the old way and half Katie’s way.

    :hohoho: Hmmmm… next time when we have LOTS of time on our hands, we could halve the prunes and randomly introduce a couple of prunes with pits to both halves before proceeding. Then we could see which way was more successful. :whee: :hohoho:

  4. another sister

    How about 1) counting the dried prunes, 2) cooking the prunes whole, 3) removing the pits from the soupy mess with fingers, counting to make sure you’ve got ’em all. Would that work. Of course this suggestion comes from the sister who has never made vina terta (if you can believe that’!)

  5. yet another sister

    I made Vina Terta with Mom last year and WE did’t have any problem at all with the pits. (smug smile) This may, of course, have been because we used pitted prunes. hee hee

  6. ejm Post author

    But but but we used pitted prunes too!! Or at least, the store claimed that they were pitted…. :stomp:

    Counting the prunes?? I don’t think so! And counting the prunes after they’re cooked could be a major problem. They tend to disintegrate.

  7. your vina tarta making sister

    We could partially cook the whole prunes, let them cool a bit, check them for pits, and then finish the cooking. Or slice them into 20 thin slices before cooking. Anything to avoid going through that pit-hunt again, with the possibility of having missed some of the shards.

  8. ejm Post author

    I still think that cutting them in half (or quarters) before cooking should do the trick. But extra care will have to be taken to feel each prune after it has been cut.

    :hohoho: Have you tried this year’s cake yet? We have – when I cut some for a present and “had to trim it” – no shards so far…. :hohoho:

  9. Baking History

    I read the recipe for this cake, Elizabeth, and I want to try it, it sounds delicious. The filling is really the same as the one for the kuchen I made for bbd#05. I read with great interest the history of the recipe–since I have a passion for vintage recipes I really have to bake this cake. Thank you!


  10. ejm Post author

    It is delicious, Manuela. But do make sure you let the cake age for at least a couple of weeks before tasting it. It’s MUCH better after the flavours have been given a chance to meld. Do let me know how it turns out!

    I too thought that it was very similar to the kuchen ( you made for bbd#05.

  11. jo

    I don’t think I wrapped mine well enough, it molded. I’m going to wrap it MUCH better this time. To the point of ridiculousness to make sure. I don’t have fresh cardamom pods sadly. I know it would taste better. But this is delicious enough :).

  12. ejm Post author

    It is good though, isn’t it? So glad to hear you made it, Jo. I’ve made the cake with pre-ground cardamom – it’s still great and not all THAT much difference.

    Yours molded!?! How sad!

    We’ve never had a problem with ours going moldy but my sister has – she lives in a rather warm apartment. Jo, next time, you might try my sister’s method of storage, which is to wrap it really well and let it sit for a day or so on your counter and then just age it in the freezer. At least I THINK that’s her method. Am I right, B?

  13. jo

    I think maybe my kitchen is too moist. I need to wait to do it again til it is a very dry day…Or do as you suggested and leave it out for a few days then put it in the freezer. I wish I knew what it tasted like after a PROPER curing. Mmm imagination.

    You may have to use the freezer method if you can’t know that there will be at least two weeks of relatively nonhumid air where you are storing the cake. But not to worry too much. The cake still tastes pretty darn good without the long curing. -ejm

  14. Jennifer

    I’m a few years behind the times with this comment, but when I cook prunes like this, I squish them through a mesh sieve after with a spatula. It’s a pretty quick process, and makes sure no bits of pit are left behind.

    I just had vinarterta for the first time this weekend, and I appreciate your recipe and tips. I’m going to try making it for Christmas this year!

    It’s never too late to talk about vinarterta, Jennifer! Thank you for weighing in. I’ve pureed pumpkin that way and for me it wasn’t at all quick! But that is a good idea to ensure that there are no pits. (I think we’ll continue to quarter the prunes before cooking them though and using the food processor to puree them….) Do let me know how your vinarterta turns out! -Elizabeth

  15. Margo

    This is exactly the same recipe as my Amma’s Vinarterta! My family lived in Washington and my Amma lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was always sweet anticipation waiting for her cake to arrive every Christmas. I have never made it, but using the recipe my mother wrote down, I am going to try to make it this year. I can’t wait. I hope it is as good as my Amma’s!

    Thank you for sharing your recipe and experiences with us.

  16. Lisa Mirecki

    I made vinaterta this winter and am wondering how to store it. Do you cut into chunks and freeze it? Do you keep it the refridgerator? I am also wondering how you wrap it. Do you use Saran wrap or a plastic container?

  17. ejm Post author

    Lisa, I wrap our vinarterta in plastic wrap, followed by aluminum foil and then I put that into a tin and store it in a cupboard in a section of the house that is around 10C. It will keep there that way for about two months (or more? – we’ve always finished it by that time so don’t know how much longer it will keep.)

    My sister stores her vinarterta in the freezer.

    I would NOT keep it in the fridge though. I think it might be like bread and will simply go stale.

    I hope that helps. Happy Vinarterta eating!



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