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Shortbread Meringue Cake with Custard Buttercream (Holiday Cake)

This Shortbread Meringue Cake with Custard Buttercream is a classic Russian Cake made with layers of delicious flavors. A perfect cake recipe!

Holiday Cake on a cake platter with a slice being taken out.

This Russian cake is also known as Holiday cake. The cake is made of layers upon layers of tender Shortbread, Meringue, and plum butter for tartness, then brought together with delicious condensed milk based Custard Buttercream.

With this cake, I am paying homage to the authentic Russian or Ukrainian cakes. According to my mom who shared this recipe with me, this was the most popular cake back in the day. It has several components to it, but they all come together beautifully and even collect many compliments as the pieces go around the table.

Holiday Cake on a cake platter topped with chocolate ganache.

This Shortbread Meringue Cake is very similar to the Markiza cake with the differences being that this cake has a layer of plum butter underneath the Meringue, which offsets the sweetness of the cake, and the Buttercream in this  Holiday Cake is made with Custard instead of condensed milk.

A slice of Shortbread Meringue Cake with Custard Buttercream on a plate with a spoon.

Can I bake this Shortbread Meringue Cake in rectangle form?

If you’re making this cake for a party, I would double the recipe and bake it in a rectangular baking sheet – it is always easier to cut the cake into squares than wedges when serving a big crowd.

Lastly, I would like to wish you God’s blessings, happiness, and joy as you spend this holiday season with your families or friends!
Merry Christmas Friends!

Shortbread Meringue Cake with Custard Buttercream

Yield: 9-inch cake
(For 12-inch cake, double the recipe)

Ingredients for the Shortbread Cake:

  • butter
  • sour cream
  • egg yolks
  • all-purpose flour
  • baking soda
  • vinegar

Meringue Recipe

  • egg whites
  • sugar

Custard Buttercream Recipe

  • whole milk
  • flour
  • egg yolks
  • butter
  • vanilla extract
  • salt

Also: 

  • plum butter, warmed (I get it at the local Russian store, or on Amazon (affiliate) )
  • walnuts, chopped

How to make the Holiday Cake 

  • Preheat oven to 350F with the wire rack set in the middle.
  • Get all ingredients measured and ready.
  • Combine baking soda and vinegar in a cup and stir until the foam subsides.
  • Cream 250 grams of butter for one minute. Add egg yolks, vanilla, sour cream and the baking soda mixture to the butter. Whisk together for 2 minutes.
  • Add 2 cups flour and mix. Add another half a cup and knead it in.
  • Wrap the dough into plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Once the dough has been in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, start making the meringue.

How to make the shortbread dough for this Shortbread Meringue Cake with Custard Buttercream.

How to make the Meringue

  • Add egg whites to a thoroughly cleaned bowl, make sure it’s grease free or the egg whites will not properly whip up.
  • Whip for about 30-40 seconds on high speed. Now start adding the sugar one tablespoon at a time and whip for 5-7 minutes on high until very thick and glossy.

Bake the Cake Layers

  • Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces.
  • Roll the dough out on an upside-down 9’inch pan. Sprinkle flour and roll out with a rolling pin.
  • If you have more than one baking pan, you can fit up to 3 of them on the oven at once.

Rolling out the shortbread dough on the back of a baking sheet.

  • Spread ¼ cup plum butter on top of rolled dough. Top with ½ cup of whipped meringue and sprinkle with walnuts.

Holiday Cake - Shortbread Cake layers lined topped with plum butter, walnuts, meringue, and Custard Buttercream | by Let the Baking Begin!

  • Bake for 15-22 minutes or until meringue is dry to the touch. Watch not to burn the walnuts. Repeat until all the dough is used up.

Baked shortbread topped with plum butter and meringue.

Make the Custard for the Buttercream

  • Heat milk until boiling.
  • Combine 4 egg yolks, 2 tsp vanilla, and 1 cup sugar in a bowl and whisk until combined.
  • Pour the hot milk into egg mixture while continuously whisking.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together 3 tablespoons of flour with about 1/2 a cup of milk until smooth. Now pour it back into the egg/milk mixture and whisk together.
  • Cook it over medium heat constantly whisking, for about 4-5 minutes past the boiling point.
  • Remove from heat, transfer to a wider dish, cover with plastic wrap touching the custard and cool to room temperature.

How to make the custard buttercream for this holiday cake!

  • Whip 2 sticks of room temp butter for 3-4 minutes or until white and fluffy. Add the custard in 3 additions, minimally whisking between addition to prevent the buttercream from curdling.

Mixing together the mixtures for the custard buttercream recipe.

Assemble the cake

  • Reserve 1 cup of custard buttercream and set aside.
  • Set aside the best-looking layer for the top layer.
  • Add buttercream the cake layers, finishing with the prettiest cake layer that you set aside.
  • Do not cover the top layer with cream, it will stay as is.
  • Use a serrated knife to trim the sides of the cake, to make it even.
  • Use the reserved buttercream to frost the sides of the cake. Press the chopped walnuts to the sides of the cake.

How to assemble this delicious shortbread meringue cake recipe.

  • Combine 3 Tbsp of boiling hot cream with 3 tbsp of dark chocolate chips.
  • Allow to sit for a minute then stir until smooth. Pour down the sides of the cake with a spoon, or pipe with a ziplock bag.
  • You really do need to wait at least 24-48 hours before cutting into the cake, so this is the perfect make-ahead dessert.

Holiday Cake topped with chocolate ganache and walnuts.

I hope that the instructions for this delicious Shortbread Meringue Cake didn’t scare you away. This cake is filled with so many delicious ingredients that go so well together. I hope you enjoy this cake recipe!

Try these other great Cake Recipes:

Shortbread Meringue Cake with Custard Buttercream (Holiday Cake)

Holiday Cake - Shortbread Cake layers lined topped with plum butter, walnuts, meringue, and Custard Buttercream | by Let the Baking Begin!
5 from 1 vote

This Shortbread Meringue Cake with Custard Buttercream is a classic Russian Cake made with layers of delicious flavors. The perfect cake recipe! 

Author: Marina | Let the Baking Begin!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Ukrainian
Calories: 839 kcal
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 10 servings

Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 250 grams unsalted butter or Crisco shortening room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour sifted
  • 1 tsp baking soda + 1 Tbsp vinegar

Meringue

Custard Buttercream

Also:

  • 1 1/2 cups plum butter warmed
  • 1 cups walnuts chopped + 1/2 cup chopped walnuts for decorating the sides of the cake

Instructions

How to make the Shortbread Meringue Cake

  1. Turn the oven to 350F with the wire rack set in the middle.
  2. Get all ingredients measured and ready.
  3. Combine baking soda and vinegar in a cup and stir until the foam subsides.
  4. Cream 250 grams of butter or Crisco for about a minute. Add egg yolks, vanilla extract, sour cream and the baking soda+vinegar mixture to the butter and whisk together for another two minutes. Add 2 cups flour and mix with hands or the paddle attachment until the dough comes together. Add another half a cup and knead it in.
  5. Wrap the dough into plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Once the dough has been in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, start making the meringue.

How to make the Meringue

  1. Add egg whites to a thoroughly cleaned bowl, make sure it's grease free or the egg whites will not properly whip up.
  2. Whip for about 30-40 seconds on high speed. Now start adding the sugar one tablespoon at a time and whip for 5-7 minutes on high until very thick and glossy.

Bake the Cake Layers

  1. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces.
  2. Roll the dough ball on the turned upside down baking pan. It is best if the baking pan is larger than 9 inches to allow for the expansion of the meringue, but if not the 9-inch baking pan is ok.

  3. Roll it out by sprinkling some flour on top, or by placing a piece of plastic wrap to prevent the rolling pin from sticking to the dough.
  4. If you have more than one baking pan, you can fit up to 3 of them in the oven at once.
  5. Spread 1/4 cup plum butter on top of the rolled out dough. Then top with about 1/2 cup of the whipped meringue and sprinkling a couple tablespoons of walnuts on top.
  6. Bake for about 15-22 minutes or until the meringue is dry to the touch. Watch not to burn the walnuts on top. Repeat the process with the remaining dough, until all cake layers are baked.

How to make the Custard for the Buttercream

  1. Heat milk until boiling.
  2. Combine 4 egg yolks, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 cup sugar in a bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined.
  3. Pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while continuously whisking. In a separate bowl whisk together 3 tablespoons of flour with about 1/2 a cup of milk until smooth. Now pour it back into the egg/milk mixture and whisk together.
  4. Cook it over medium heat constantly whisking, for about 4-5 minutes past the boiling point.
  5. Remove from heat, transfer to a wider dish, cover with plastic wrap touching the custard and cool to room temperature.
  6. Whip 2 sticks or 230 grams of room temperature butter for about 3-4 minutes or until drastically increased in volume, white and fluffy. Remember to scrape the bottom of the bowl from to time. Now add the custard in 3 additions, minimally whisking between each addition to prevent the buttercream from curdling.

Assemble the cake

  1. Reserve 1 cup of custard buttercream and set aside.
  2. Pick the best looking cake layer and set it aside, we will use it for the top layer of the cake.
  3. Use the remaining buttercream to layer the cake layers, finishing with the prettiest cake layer. Do not cover the top layer, as it will stay exposed.
  4. Use a serrated knife to trim the sides of the cake, to make it somewhat even.
  5. Use 1 cup of reserved buttercream to frost the sides of the cake. Now press the chopped walnuts to the sides of the cake.
  6. Combine 3 tablespoons of boiling hot cream with about 3 tablespoons of dark chocolate chips. Allow sitting for one minute then stir until smooth. Use it to pour down the sides of the cake with a spoon or by filling a ziplock bag with ganache, then snipping the corner and pouring it down the sides that way.

Recipe Notes

You really do need to wait at least 24-48 hours before cutting into the cake, so this is the perfect make-ahead dessert.

Nutrition Facts
Shortbread Meringue Cake with Custard Buttercream (Holiday Cake)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 839 Calories from Fat 468
% Daily Value*
Fat 52g80%
Saturated Fat 27g169%
Cholesterol 245mg82%
Sodium 368mg16%
Potassium 228mg7%
Carbohydrates 85g28%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 47g52%
Protein 10g20%
Vitamin A 1465IU29%
Vitamin C 4.6mg6%
Calcium 112mg11%
Iron 2.5mg14%
* 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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  • Yova

    Hi Marina, in the Ingredients part you don’t list the 1 cup sugar in the Custard Buttercream ingredients.
    Also, a question – how much is 1 cup in your recipes – 200 or 250 ml? Thank you!

    · Reply
    • Hi Yova,
      Thanks for catching that, I just added it to the list as well.
      I have a regular US measuring cup and 1 cup of fluid is 236 ml or 8 fl oz.

      · Reply
  • kaja

    Hi Marina do you have to wait the 24 hours to eat this cake or can it be enjoyed same day?
    Thanks

    · Reply
  • […] kids. Where I grew up, there was no shortage of plums and plum butter was very popular for use in cakes and other […]

    · Reply
  • Lucy

    Hi Marina,
    Finally baked this cake, very yummy!!
    I have couple questions, first do you put any sugar at all in the dough? It feels like it needs some sugar.
    And second my dough when baked is very soft and crumbly. Is that how it’s supposed to be?
    Please can you get back to me asap,
    I want to bake this cake for Easter.
    Thank you Hun for everything, Gods blessings!!

    · Reply
    • Hi Lucy,
      There’s no sugar in the dough because it is covered with meringue that has lots of sugar to compensate. The dough is very soft and crumbly and that is how this cake is supposed to be. It you want the cake to be sweeter, do try the Markiza cake I posted a little after this recipe and just put a layer of plum butter between the meringue and the cake to have similar flavor profile. Because the frosting is made with condensed milk and butter it is a lot sweeter than this cream and I think you might like it more.
      Markiza cake recipe – https://letthebakingbegin.com/2016/12/markiza-cake-marquise-cake/
      And thank you for using my recipe Lucy! Be blessed and happy Easter to you and your family!

      · Reply
  • Lucy

    Looks heavenly
    Girl I bought prune butter , is it the same thing as plum butter?
    Thanks for all the great recipes!!

    · Reply
  • Alena

    Can you please share what plum butter you use.

    · Reply
  • Love this cake, Marina and love your family photo even more!! Your girls are gorgeous!! Merry Christmas, my friend!

    · Reply
  • Veronica

    “Combine baking soda and baking powder in a cup and stir until the foam subsides.” I am confused about this sentence because I didn’t see baking powder on the ingredients lists? I assume it is the baking soda and the vinegar mix together until the foam subsides? also, do I add it to the flour mixture? I didn’t see how you deal with this after it gets foam subsides? Thank you!

    · Reply
    • Hi Veronica, good eye! I changed the instructions to reflect the correct ingredients.

      · Reply
      • Olga

        Can you please change the print instructions also? I printed a new copy, and realized that hasn’t been changed….

        Thanks

        · Reply

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