The Icelandic Layer Cake (lagkaka) or Randalín (stripey cake) has been the most popular cake since the late 1800s. It can be either brown (with spices) or white and depending on the cake’s color, the filling was either prune jam, rhubarb jam, or buttercream.

When Icelanders emigrated in their thousands to Canada and US in the late 1800s and early 1900s, they brought the recipe for this Icelandic layer cake with them. It has since been very popular among West Icelanders. However, they traditionally use prune jam, while it is more common for Icelanders to use rhubarb jam (which became popular when they started growing rhubarb).

The brown version of the cake is popular for Christmas as it includes cinnamon, clove, and ginger (but not as popular as laufabrauð). The white version is sometimes called “Vienna Tart.” Danish merchants brought the recipe with them in the mid-19th century, quickly becoming popular in Iceland.

As they both have the same basic ingredients (the brown has added spices), we will give you *both* recipes this time! Oh, yes. It’s a twofer!

Vienna Tart (the white version):

  • 250g (1 1/8 c) butter soft
  • 325g (1 3/4 c) sugar
  • 500g (3 3/4 c) flour (add more if needed)
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3dl (1.2 c) whole milk (can be lactose-free)
  • rhubarb jam / prune jam
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence (can be exchanged for cardamom)

Method:

  • Heat the oven to 180°c (use convection if you have it).
  • Whisk together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add 1 egg and continue whisking, then add the other egg and keep on whisking until the batter is very fluffy and light in color.
  • Mix flour and baking soda and add half of the mixture and half of the milk. Start the mixer and stir until the dough starts to stick together.
  • Add the rest of the flour, milk, and vanilla essence and mix until the batter becomes smooth.
  • Make sure not to mix it too well, as the cake will not rise enough and become chewy.
  • Put baking paper on two baking sheets and spread the batter evenly in a rectangle. You can weigh it to ensure equal amounts on both plates.
  • Bake both plates for about 17-18 minutes
  • Remove from the oven and let them cool completely. While it is cooling, you can make everything ready for jam-spreading.
  • Cut the cake in half on the short side, then there are four equally sized portions. Spread jam on one and lay another cake on top. Spread jam on top, and then add another layer of cake. You should end up with three layers of jam and four layers of cake (you can have more layers if you want).
  • Now you can trim it and cut it into smaller pieces. For example, cut each quarter three times. It is possible to freeze it.
icelandic layer cake, brún lagkaka

Brown Layer cake:

Use the same recipe as for the white one but add:

  • 1 tsp clove
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 3 tbsp cocoa

Buttercream:

  • 500g (3 3/4 c) powdered sugar
  • 150g (2/3 c)soft butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence

OR!

  • 250 g (1 1/8 c) butter
  • 500 g (3 3/4 c) powdered sugar
  • 1 (0.4 c) dl heavy cream

Method for brown cake:

  • The same as for the white version; just add spices and coco when you mix flour and baking soda.
  • Method for buttercream:
  • Whisk butter well. Add powdered sugar, egg, and vanilla essence and mix for about 10 minutes or until the icing becomes fluffy and almost white.
  • For the second version of the buttercream, whisk the butter until it is light and airy. Add the powdered sugar and whisk again until light and airy. Pour the cream in and whisk until the icing becomes soft, light, and airy.

Et voila and bon appetit!

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