Oatmeal cookies, in all their lumpy nooks-and-cragginess make me think of old libraries and crowded bookshelves (I have some screencaps of my favourite book-ish scenes for you below). It’s an odd association, but they seem to be the right cookie for reading dusty hardcovers or thick block-ish softcovers.
As I’ve rambled about before, I hardly read anymore. So while I think these cookies are best with a novel, odds are that I’ll usually settle for a textbook. This summer I’m hoping to do some reading and overall it hasn’t been a bad year.
I had the wonderful opportunity to put together a guest post for Suzanne of A Pug in the Kitchen. You can take a look over at Suzanne’s blog for the full post, but here’s a bit of an excerpt (I get to quote myself!) about the cake and the recipe follows below.
The cake is unabashedly rich, the crumb possessing a buttery sheen, and is incredibly fragrant due to an incredible quantity of vanilla extract and browned butter. I’ve made merely superficial changes, but I highly advocate them. The prunes and chestnuts, which are two of my favourite things, are homely and warm […] They simply fit perfectly into the backdrop of a dense and vanilla-heady cake, such that even a friend who does not at all subscribe to my obsession with prunes admitted that really, they did seem to work quite well.
I really emphasized the glamourous nature of this cake with a of couple binders and an old stapler.
Vínarterta is a classic Icelandic Christmas cake that was brought to North America along with a wave of Icelandic immigrants around the late 18th to early 20th century. It was a thin cake that could be cooked over a hearth, and as prunes were très cher, it was very “en vogue”! The vínarterta still is en vogue, or at least in North America.
It’s like the founder effect (maybe?) but with cake. The vínarterta remains a popular and iconic Christmas cake in the Icelandic population of North America, but has become an obscurity in Iceland itself. It’s been described a “culinary time capsule.” I imagine what happens is that when you’re further from home, the traditions brought with you are treasured even more highly and can become even more resistant to change.
My mother started making fruitcake a couple decades ago, and since then the original grainy photocopy has been marked over and crossed out numerous times, black pen scratched over blue pen scrawled over pencil. I love that I’ve been able to step in a bit later into the development, at the point where the process already carries the familiarity, expectations, and experience of a tradition.