Chocolate Honey Cake (Spartak Cake)
Chocolate Honey Cake combines the richness of chocolate in thin, but soft and airy, honey-filled cake layers sandwiched with a fluffy sour cream filling. It’s velvety soft, moist and delicious. This Spartak cake is one of the most popular Russian cakes and it’s the best chocolate cake ever!
Want to try some other chocolate recipes? You’ve got to try this chocolate cherry pavlova, this no-bake chocolate banana custard cake, and this flourless black chocolate forest cake.
Chocolate Honey Cake (Spartak Cake)
Honey cake has always been a favorite recipe of ours and I am happy to finally be sharing this honey cake recipe on the blog.
Lately, the honey cake has soared in popularity. This is due in part thanks to a lovely article about the Russian honey cake from the New York Times. Just as mentioned in that article, this chocolate version of the honey cake too has simple ingredients that you most likely have in your fridge or pantry already.
I love recipes that can create masterpieces out of pantry and fridge staples.
What is Spartak Cake?
The honey cake has been well-known as being one of the most jaw-dropping desserts (all those layers…mmm…mm), but in my humble opinion, the Spartak cake is even better. Because, chocolate, of course. The chocolate version of the honey cake takes things a step further by adding rich cocoa flavor to the classic honey cake, and what doesn’t taste better with chocolate?
The Spartak cake is a traditional Russian dessert. It is inexpensive but does take some time to put together. And Like all good things in life, this Spartak cake is worth the time and effort.
The Best Chocolate Cake
In short, this dessert is my idea of the best chocolate cake. It has all the crucial elements any great cake should have—moist, fluffy, melt in your mouth creamy. Just, in place of 2 or 3 standard layers, this one’s got eight (or more!) layers. Which means there’s no way to get a bite that doesn’t have both the cake and the filling. Which is my idea of perfection!
As if all of that wasn’t enough, this cake definitely wins the award for the best chocolate cake thanks to a rich, decadent ganache that is poured over the entire dessert.
If you haven’t made it before, ganache is quite simple to make and has only two ingredients: chocolate and heavy cream. When the two are heated and mixed together, then poured on top of the dessert, you have the best chocolate cake ever. Every single bite is laced with cocoa, ganache, and creamy filling—a true symphony of the palate.
Sour Cream Custard Filling
Curious to know what the creamy layer in between all the chocolate is? The filling is made with rich sour cream custard that balances the layers of the chocolate cake perfectly. It helps to moisten the cookie-like cake layers into a velvety smooth bite of heaven in every spoonful.
How to Make Spartak Cake
There are three main components to this Spartak Cake recipe—
- Chocolate cake layers
- Sour Cream Custard
- Ganache Topping
How to Make the Chocolate Cake Layers
- Sift together the dry ingredients—flour, cocoa, and baking powder, then set aside.
- Cook the honey, butter (you can use melted butter to speed up the process), and sugar over a water bath until the sugar is dissolved (~5-7 minutes), then whisk in the eggs and baking soda. Cook until the baking soda foams up and doubles the amount of the mixture in the bowl, then take off the heat.
- Add this mixture into the sifted dry ingredients, then mix together with a sturdy wooden spoon.
- Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.
- Roll each piece of dough between parchment, poke with a fork, and bake (~5 min). Place an 8-inch round template around the cake and trim the sides as soon as it’s out of the oven. Keep the scraps.
- Crush the scraps into crumbs, then set aside. The easiest way to do this is to use a blender or a food processor and give it a few pulses, or place in a ziplock and whack it with a rolling pin until you have crumbs.
How to Make the Spartak Sour Cream Custard
The sour cream custard is the glue that holds together all those beautiful Spartak cake layers. Here’s how to make it.
- Whip room temperature butter (~5 min), set aside.
- Then measure the rest of the ingredients to make make the sour cream custard.
- Whisk eggs, sugar, and cornstarch together, then add the sour cream and vanilla.
- Cook the mixture over a water bath until thickened (~25-30 min or until 160F). Then cool to room temp.
- Add the sour cream custard into the previously whipped butter in 3 additions, whipping after each.
How to Assemble the Spartak Cake Together
- Sandwich the cookie-like cake layers with equal amounts of sour cream frosting, leaving about 2/3 cups for covering the outside.
- Cover the outside with the cream, then use the crushed crumbs to press them against the sides of the cake.
- Pour the ganache over the top of the cake and spread into even layer.
- Refrigerate overnight before serving.
Make sure to try these other Russian desserts:
Chocolate Honey Cake - Spartak Recipe
Chocolate honey cake - has thin chocolate cake layers sandwiched with creamy sour cream filling. This Russian Spartak cake is our favorite chocolate cake!
Chocolate Cake Layer Ingredients:
Dry Ingredients (Sift together, set aside)
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
Wet Ingredients to cook over water bath
- ⅔ cup sugar, granulated
- ¼ cup honey
- 4 oz unasalted butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp baking soda
Chocolate Honey Cake Cream
Sour Cream Custard
- 2 cups sour cream (full fat)
- ¾ cups sugar, granulated
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste
Whip then combine with the cream
- 10 oz unsalted butter room temperature (1 stick butter = 4 oz)
How to Make the Chocolate Honey Cake layers
Sift the dry: In a large bowl sift together 2.5 cups, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 cups cocoa powder. Set aside.
Cook the wet:Set a saucepan with 1-2 inches of water over high heat. Meanwhile in a heatproof bowl combine 4 oz butter (use melted butter to speed up the process if you wish), 1/4 cup honey, and 2/3 cup sugar.
When the water in the saucepan starts to simmer, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and set the bowl with the wet ingredients over it ensuring that the water doesn't touch the bowl.
Cook stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved (~5-10 min). Now add 2 eggs and continue to whisk constantly until well mixed in. Next, add the 1 tsp of baking soda and cook for about 1-2 minutes whisking constantly.
Combine the dry & the wet: Pour the wet (hot) ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a sturdy wooden spoon until a dough forms. (Do not discard the saucepot with water, we'll use the water bath later in the recipe).
The dough will be very sticky, but will become not sticky as it cools. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and keep covered as you're working with them one at a time.
Roll and bake the chocolate honey cake layers
Preheat the oven to 375°F degrees as you roll the cake layers.
Roll each chocolate dough piece between two layers of parchment paper to a slightly larger than an 8 inch circle. Poke with a fork about every 1 inch and bake for about 5-7 minutes. Do not let the edges burn or brown. Remove from the oven and place an 8-inch round template (salad plate or an 8-inch round baking pan) and cut around it, removing the scraps to a bowl.
Repeat with the remaining dough.
Crush the crumbs: Once all the scraps are cool, crumble them into fine crumbs by pulsing in a blender, crushing them with your fingers, or by adding into a ziplock bag and rolling with a rolling pin.
How to make the Honey Cake Cream
Whip Butter: In a separate bowl whip room temperature butter for about 5-7 minutes or until it is pale in color and fluffy, stopping several times to scrape down the sides and bottom. Set aside.
Cook Sour Cream Custard: In a heatproof bowl combine 3/4 cups sugar, 2 tbsp cornstarch, and 2 eggs, then add 1 tsp vanilla, 2 cups sour cream, set over the saucepot with simmering water and stir until smooth. Cook, constantly stirring with a whisk until the cream is thickened or until it's about 160F°, about 25 minutes. The cream will start out thick, then thin down as it heats and thicken back up again when the cornstarch and the eggs thicken it again.
Allow to cool completely (to room temperature, not colder). You can place the bowl into some iced water to quicken the process.
Combine: Add the cooled sour cream custard into the whipped butter in thirds or fourths, whipping well after each addition until you have fluffy and beautiful sour cream custard. Set aside.
Make the Chocolate Ganache
Combine 2 tbsp boiling hot heavy cream with 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips and allow to sit for 1 minute. Stir until smooth.
Assemble the Chocolate Honey Cake
Add a dab of cream to the middle of the serving platter or a cake board. Top with the chocolate cake layer and press to adhere. Now layer the cake with 2 scoops of cream between each layer, covering the outside with cream as well.
Pour the ganache over the top of the cake and even it out over the top with an offset spatula.
Press the crushed cake crumbs against the sides of the cake, going slightly over the edge of the top creating a border with crumbs.
Cover the cake and leave at room temp for about 5-6 hours, then refrigerate overnight before serving. The cake is best when it's served at room temperature.
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How to make this cake into a rectangle
- Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Roll the layers to the size of your rectangle jelly roll pan (12"x18") between two layers of parchment and bake for 5 minutes each. Then, divide each baked layer into 4 rectangles, by cutting in the middle lengthwise and widthwise.
- The instructions for assembling are the same as for the round version.
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I was just wondering if using the unit of measurement converter to change from standard measurements to metric is accurate? I like to use the scale to weigh ingredients, as I tend to get more consistent results. But, I just want to make sure before using the conversion that it is accurate. I’ve read that the conversion isn’t equal across the board for all ingredients due to the different masses of each kind, i.e., powdered sugar doesn’t have the same density as butter and so on.
Thanks so much!
Yes, using metric measurements will give you the proper weight for this recipe as I actually weigh the ingredients when I post the metric measurements.
Cake looks amazing. Do you think the sugar could be traded for honey in the cream filling? I was thinking of using it to make a beehive cake for a baby shower and was wanting the honey flavor more strong.
Thank you so much! I haven’t tried substituting sugar for honey, so can’t tell you for sure, but I would think that adding liquid honey instead of sugar would make the cream more runny. So, if I were to attempt this, I would thicken the cream more than the recipe instructs to compensate for adding more liquid into the cream.
I made this cake for my husband’s birthday and the whole family loved it!! It was surprisingly easy to prepare but it requires a bit of extra time. I even gambled in making the cream with full fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and the texture was so velvety & smooth. The first day the sourness was a bit apparent but the next day it was rarely detectable. The leftover cake tasted even better than the day before!! Great cake and thank you so much for the detailed recipe!
Thank you so much for such a detailed review! I’m so happy to hear you guys enjoyed the cake!
This cake is amazing!! Made it couple times already and I love the its not super sweet, it’s perfect! Thank you for the recipe
Thank you Marina for the recipe, I made the cake for my husband’s birthday, it came out perfect and was delicious everybody loved it. I just browsed through your website and I can’t wait to try so many other recipes. Thank you for sharing all those great recipes.
Hi Carolina, thank you so much for such nice feedback! I hope you find more cakes you love!
Hi. I was wondering if there’s any substitute for sour cream. It’s not available in our town . Thanks
I have not tried any substitutions for sour cream so can not make a good recommendation, unfortunately 🙁
Thank you very much Marina for your recipe!! Thank for your really helpful advices!!!! I did it !!! My cake looks lovely!!!
Thank you very much for your wounder full recipe. Have a small doubt, can i use whipping cream frosting instead of butter cream.
Yes, you can. Although, this is not a very heavy frosting so I hope you try it as written at least once 🙂
Hi. Your cake looks amazing! Will try to make it this for my sons birthday on Sunday. Can I make the cake a day in advance and refrigerate it to be eaten the next day?
yes this cake can easily be made ahead, in fact it is best if it’s made 24 hours ahead.
Hello – thanks for this recipe. I’ve always wondered about doing a cake like this. My question is: I often substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream in recipes (makes it a little ‘better’ for you with more protein). Do you think this would work for the cream in this cake?
I haven’t tried substituting sour cream with greek yogurt in this recipe so I can’t really tell you if it will work or not. I would probably not do it, since the creaminess of the frosting relies on the fat in the sour cream.
For the cream I dont have cornstarch. Any recommendation for substitute you can recommend?
Hi Masha, you can substitute it with flour and just cook the frosting a little longer after it comes to a boil to make sure it doesn’t have the flour taste.
Making cake right now. And have problem with cream. Why it is not ticking… 🙁 ? Is it become more tick when it is cool down?
Just keep cooking it until it thickens. It might take awhile. And yes, it will thicken further after cooling.
Thank you for the great recipe! First time making this type of cake and it turned out exactly as I hoped! I added some cherry syrup on top of the slices we just had and it was a good addition as well. 🙂
In my country we are not using ‘cups’ for measurements, so maybe you can tell equal sizes in grams? (I tried to search by googlin but there all of the measurements are written differently) Waitin for your response! xx
You can click “metric” in the recipe card and it will give you all the measurements in grams. Hope this helps and good luck!
Hey one more time,
Thank you, but I can’t see where is the ‘metric’ place?
Nevermind, found it! thank you 🙂
Made this for New Years Eve and it was AMAZING!!! Got lots of compliments!!! I made this with 8oz of butter and it still came out delicious! Thanks for the recipe!
These are the best cake. Thank you for the recipe!
Thank you, Tetiana!
So if I don’t want the chocolate version but just the honey version (medovik), do I just omit the chocolate and proceed with the cake?
I have not tried doing this with this cake so can’t tell you for sure if it will work.
Can I freeze this cake, already Baked and assembled?
Yes, this cake freezes well.
I’m making this cake….did you double the recipe in your pictures or it’s a single batch?
Never mind my post, your stick of butter is only 4 oz vs mine are 8oz. Can’t wait to try this cake.
Did not think I could ever make such cake but with your precise step by step instructions it was so easy, turned out delicious. Doubled the ganache ingredients to fully cover the top. Will be making it again!
Thank you so much Alyona for your feedback and star rating!
Can I bake the layers a few days before I actually assemble the cake?
I think that it would perfectly fine to do that. Just make sure to chill the cake layers, then stack and wrap in plastic wrap to keep them from drying out too much.
Can you tell me what brand of cocoa powder works best
I used the Costco Organic Cocoa.
Hi Marina quick question for you. Is there a brand of cocoa powder that you find works best?
Cake looks amazing and I want to try making it.
Hi Lena, for this particular recipe any kind of cocoa powder will work just fine.
Marina, woooow!!! Incredible cake and looks fantastic as usual !!!
Thank you, Victoria! I appreciate it!