Randalín: Layered Icelandic Cake


Randalín: Layered Icelandic Cake

Watch this audio slideshow on how to make randalín (aka vínarterta), a traditional Icelandic cake, often—but not strictly—baked at Christmas. Randalín is either a white or a brown layered cake with rhubarb or prune jam between the four layers of the white cake and white butter cream between the brown layers. This is the recipe for a white randalín.

Photos and narration by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir.


Randalín is a typical Icelandic cake, which in many homes is baked in the pre-Christmas season, although it’s not strictly a Christmas cake.

Randalín can either be a white cake in four layers with rhubarb or prune jam in between—also known as vínarterta and is a popular Icelandic tradition among the descendants of Icelandic immigrants in North America (where it usually has more than four layers)—or a brown layered cake with white butter cream in between the four layers.

Randalín, which is also a woman’s name, means “the striped”. The cake actually goes by many names, including lagterta (“layered tart”), randabraud (“striped bread”) and the aforementioned vínarterta (“Vienna tart”).

According to the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, it is unclear why the cake is associated with Vienna. It might simply be a reference to vínarbraud (literally: “Vienna bread”), which is the direct translation of the Danish word for Danish pastry.

The more traditional recipes assume the dough is kneaded and then rolled out to fit four baking trays but in this recipe for white randalín, a mixer is used (from


250 g sugar 200 g margarine 2-3 eggs 600-700 g flour 2 dl milk (or as much as needed) 2 teaspoons baking powder Rhubarb jam

Beat sugar and margarine until the mixture is light both in consistency and color. Add one egg at a time and continue beating the mixture until it reclaims its light color. Add flour and baking powder and finally the milk, until the mixture is thin enough for spreading.

Spread the mixture evenly on non-stick paper on four baking trays (bake one or two layers at a time if you don’t have four trays) that fit the width of the oven. Bake at 180°C (356°F) for approximately ten minutes or until the cake is light brown in color.

Spread rhubarb jam on the first three layers and stack them. Cut off the uneven edges and then cut out four long cakes. Then, when the cake is ready to be served, slice it from the narrow end. Randalín tastes excellent with whipped cream.

To prevent it from hardening, wrap the cake in plastic or foil. It preserves well and can also be stored in the freezer.


Lighthouse South Iceland

Iceland’s South Coast

Watch a slideshow of images from Iceland's South Coast. Photos by Geir Ólafsson. Slideshow by Páll...
Highlands album cover

Interview with Highlands

Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson of Retro Stefson interviews Karin Sveinsdóttir, who recently founded the group...

Icelandic Confirmation

Watch an audio slideshow of a Lutheran confirmation, a longstanding tradition in Iceland.
Ice cave, South Iceland

Ice and Caves

Watch a slideshow of images from Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon and an ice cave in Vatnjajökull. Photos by Páll...