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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.

Slice of chocolate honey cake with eight layers of chocolate cake and alternating cream filling layers.

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.

Chocolate honey cake slices with thin layers of chocolate and buttercream topped with a chocolate ganache.

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!

Chocolate Ganache 

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.

The best chocolate cake - slices of cake that show layers of chocolate and buttercream icing.

How to Make Spartak Cake

There are three main components to this Spartak Cake recipe—

  1. Chocolate cake layers
  2. Sour Cream Custard
  3. Ganache Topping

How to Make the Chocolate Cake Layers

  • Sift together the dry ingredients—flour, cocoa, and baking powder, then set aside.

Ingredients needed for Spartak cake such as flour, cocoa, eggs, and butter

  • 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.

Visual instructions to create the chocolate Spartak dough for the cake.

  • 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.

Visual instructions for how to make chocolate spartak layers and ensure they are the same size and shape.

  • 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.

Leftover pieces from Spartak being crushed into a crumb coating.

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.

Chunks of butter being whipped together to create Spartak buttercream.

  • Then measure the rest of the ingredients to make make the sour cream custard.

Ingredients for the sour cream buttercream for a Spartak cake such as sugar, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream.

  • 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.

Visual instructions for how to make Spartak buttercream.

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.

Visual directions for how to layer and coat a Spartak cake.

  • Refrigerate overnight before serving.

Make sure to try these other Russian desserts:

Chocolate Honey Cake - Spartak Recipe

Chocolate layer cake with sour cream frosting on a plate surrounded by cake slices
5 from 23 votes

Chocolate honey cake - has thin chocolate cake layers sandwiched with creamy sour cream filling. This Russian Spartak cake is our favorite chocolate cake!

Author: Marina | Let the Baking Begin
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Russian
Keyword: chocolate honey cake, spartak cake
Calories: 594 kcal
Prep Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
Servings: 12 (One 8-inch round cake)


Chocolate Cake Layer Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients (Sift together, set aside)

Wet Ingredients to cook over water bath

Chocolate Honey Cake Cream

Sour Cream Custard

Whip then combine with the cream


How to Make the Chocolate Honey Cake layers

  1. Sift the dry: In a large bowl sift together 2.5 cups, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 cups cocoa powder. Set aside.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  1. 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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  1. 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

  1. 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.

Recipe Notes

To see other tools I use in the kitchen, click HERE (amazon affiliate).

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.
Nutrition Facts
Chocolate Honey Cake - Spartak Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 594 Calories from Fat 342
% Daily Value*
Fat 38g58%
Saturated Fat 23g144%
Cholesterol 149mg50%
Sodium 410mg18%
Potassium 202mg6%
Carbohydrates 61g20%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 35g39%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 1185IU24%
Vitamin C 0.4mg0%
Calcium 90mg9%
Iron 2.1mg12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Marina | Let the Baking Begin

Welcome to Let the Baking Begin! I'm Marina and my love and passion for eating only the most delicious foods drive me to share that love here on Let the Baking Begin (since 2009). With over 20 years of experience in the kitchen, you know the recipes are tested and retested until perfect. I'm so happy to have you here. Enjoy! Read more...

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  • Olga Neufeld

    Marina the cake is amazing! Have made it many times now. My question is can you freeze it? Would that be ok with the custard cream?

    · Reply
    • Hi Olga,
      I haven’t tried freezing it or using a custard with it.
      I think the custard would work in this recipe, flavor-vise though.

      · Reply
  • AVFJ

    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!


    · Reply
    • 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.

      Good luck!

      · Reply
  • Amber

    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.

    · Reply
    • Hi Amber,
      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.

      · Reply
  • AllA
    · Reply
  • Maryan

    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!

    · Reply
  • Luba

    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

    · Reply
  • Carolina

    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.

    · Reply
  • Adam

    Hi. I was wondering if there’s any substitute for sour cream. It’s not available in our town . Thanks

    · Reply
    • Hi Adam,
      I have not tried any substitutions for sour cream so can not make a good recommendation, unfortunately 🙁

      · Reply
  • Alina Scripnic

    Thank you very much Marina for your recipe!! Thank for your really helpful advices!!!! I did it !!! My cake looks lovely!!!

    · Reply
  • Mathias


    Thank you very much for your wounder full recipe. Have a small doubt, can i use whipping cream frosting instead of butter cream.

    · Reply
  • Anna

    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?

    · Reply
  • Lisa Sandhaus

    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?

    · Reply
    • Hi Lisa,
      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.

      · Reply
  • Masha

    For the cream I dont have cornstarch. Any recommendation for substitute you can recommend?

    · Reply
    • 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.

      · Reply
  • Galina

    Making cake right now. And have problem with cream. Why it is not ticking… 🙁 ? Is it become more tick when it is cool down?

    · Reply
  • Anna

    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. 🙂

    · Reply
  • Gabby

    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

    · Reply
    • Hi Gabby,
      You can click “metric” in the recipe card and it will give you all the measurements in grams. Hope this helps and good luck!

      · Reply
      • Gabby

        Hey one more time,
        Thank you, but I can’t see where is the ‘metric’ place?

        · Reply
        • Gabby

          Nevermind, found it! thank you 🙂

          · Reply
  • Yuliya

    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!

    · Reply
  • Tetiana

    These are the best cake. Thank you for the recipe!

    · Reply
  • Alisa

    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?

    · Reply
  • Lily

    Can I freeze this cake, already Baked and assembled?

    · Reply
  • Ira

    I’m making this cake….did you double the recipe in your pictures or it’s a single batch?

    · Reply
    • Ira

      Never mind my post, your stick of butter is only 4 oz vs mine are 8oz. Can’t wait to try this cake.

      · Reply
  • Alyona

    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!

    · Reply
  • Vera

    Hi Marina,

    Can I bake the layers a few days before I actually assemble the cake?


    · Reply
    • Hi Vera,
      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.

      · Reply
  • Lena

    Hi Marina
    Can you tell me what brand of cocoa powder works best
    Thank you

    · Reply
  • Lena

    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.

    · Reply
  • Victoria

    Marina, woooow!!! Incredible cake and looks fantastic as usual !!!

    · Reply

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