Happy Marriage Cake

Happy Marriage, or Hjónabandssaela in Icelandic, is a traditional Icelandic oatmeal cake with Rhubarb Jam. It is unclear why this cake is called a Happy Marriage cake; legend has it that it contains the secret ingredient to a happy marriage.  Considering the fact that it contains sugar and rhubarb… we would have to agree!

HappyMarriageCake Rhubarb Jam

The main reason we decided to feature this cake, other than it’s delicious, is because last summer Tia went to Iceland. When she saw this cake in a little cafe she had to have it, and has dreamt about it ever since. The cake had a great cardamom crumb, almost reminiscent of a streusel, all over the top. So, when we decided to make this cake, we infused the entire batter with cardamom. Once this cake was baked, Tia reached a rhubarb cardamom-induced nirvana.

Icelandic Cuisine

Historically, Icelanders would rely on anything that can be harvested from the barren, almost martian, landscape to create meals. A few things do grow in Iceland, so don’t think that this Nordic cuisine is dull and without flavor. Blueberries, rhubarb, and even caraway seeds are harvested throughout Iceland, which make for some really appetizing meals!

This cake is more like a cookie bar, or a tart, than a traditional American Birthday cake. It isn’t too sweet and it is a perfect accompaniment to coffee or tea. We love the fact that it’s simple and versatile. You can use any flour that you would like in this recipe, instead of the all-purpose we use. Or your favorite jam… blueberry or prune are also quite popular in Iceland. Also, depending on your taste, play around with the jam to dough, “cake batter,” ratio. Or, take a chapter from the little cafe in Iceland and make a crumb topping! It also bakes great in a pie pan, tart pan, or a springform pan. Depending on your springform pan, make sure you have a cookie tray on the bottom shelf of your oven to catch the butter, in case it decides to leak all over. 

So, grab that homemade Rhubarb Jam that you made last week, and don’t forget to add a dollop of homemade whipped cream to top it off!

Happy Marriage Cake

Icelandic "Happy Marriage" Cake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
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Yields: 10
This is particularly delicious when served the morning after baking with a cup of freshly brewed coffee.
  • 1 cup quick cooking old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup rhubarb jam
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, cardamom, baking soda, and sugars.
  2. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender until the butter and the dry ingredients are well blended. You can use a food processor for this step.
  3. Stir in one egg and vanilla extract. Your batter will look like a thick cookie dough.
  4. Butter a 9-inch cake or pie pan and press ¾ of the cake dough into the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate your remaining dough and pan for 5-10 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.
  5. Once your oven is heated, remove the dough from the refrigerator and spread the rhubarb jam evenly over the crust, then crumble the remaining dough over the top of the cake.
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
The look of this cake is easy to change. You can cover the entire top of the cake with the remaining dough, crumble it in random areas, or even roll it out and make a lattice top. Just make sure to reserve extra dough in order to achieve the look you want.