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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, and sugar over a water bath until the sugar is dissolved, 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.
  • Add this mixture into the sifted dry ingredients, then mix together.
  • Cut the dough into 8 equal sizes.

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

  • Roll each piece of dough between parchment, poke with a fork and bake. Place an 8-inch round template around the cake and trim the sides. 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.

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

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. 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 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

5 from 3 votes
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

Ingredients

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

  • 10 oz unsalted butter room temperature (1 stick butter = 4 oz)

Instructions

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, 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, about 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 10 minutes whisking constantly.

  3. Combine the dry & the wet: Pour the wet (hot) ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until everything is combined. (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 and keep covered the pieces you're not working with.

Roll and bake the chocolate honey cake layers

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F 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 (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 a fine crumbs by pulsing them in a blender, crushing them between your hands, 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. 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 sauce pot with simmering water and stir until smooth. Cook until the cream is thickened or until it's about 175F°, about 20 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 iced water to quicken the process.

  3. Combine: Add the cooled sour cream custard into the whipped butter in fourths, whipping well after each addition.

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. Place a dab of cream in 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.

    Press the crushed cake crumbs against the sides of the cake, going slightly over the edge of the top creating a border with crumbs.

    Refrigerate overnight before serving.

Recipe Notes

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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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Comments

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  • 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?

    Thanks

    · 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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