Chocolate Honey Layer Cake – Торт “Спартак”

Spartak - Chocolate Honey Layer Cake 2 copyThis is one of my favorite cakes. It’s a chocolate-honey layer cake with pastry cream. The thin layers of cake are so soft and tender and paired with the pastry cream, make this a very delicate and tender cake. The topping has a caramel taste and a mousse like textuer. I got the idea to decorate it to look like a honeycomb from a Russian recipe forum and made the bees from the book The Pie and Pastry Bible.
Ingredients:

For the cake:

1/2 cup milk

3 Tablespoons honey

1 cup sugar

4 Tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons baking soda

4-5 Tablespoons cocoa

1 egg

2 1/2 cups flour

Pastry cream:

4 Tablespoons flour

3 Tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups milk

1/4-1/3 cup sugar

3 egg yolks

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 Tablespoons butter

1 cup heavy cream

For the top of the cake:

1/2 can of cooked condensed milk, dulce de leche

1/2 stick butter, softened

1/4 cup sour cream

2 Tablespoons water

2 1/4 teaspoons gelatin

For the chocolate-almond bees:

3 oz. semisweet chocolate

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 Tablespoon honey

slivered almonds

1 oz. white chocolate, melted

Instructions: 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, heat up the milk, honey, sugar, butter, baking soda and cocoa, just until butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Whisk the egg and add a little bit of the heated batter, while whisking. This is called tempering and will keep the egg from curdling. Add the tempered mixture to the rest of the batter. Add the flour and mix until combined. Allow the dough to cool slightly, just enough that you can handle it, however, you need to work quickly because it won’t roll out properly if it’s too cold. Roll the dough out very thinly and cut it out into an 8-10 inch circle. I use a lid or the bottom of a springform pan to trace and cut it out with a paring knife. If you have a tart pan, that works the best, actually. Use a fork to poke some holes across the surface of the cake layer. A tip about rolling out the dough. This dough is pretty sticky, but if you add too much flour it will have too much gluten and will keep shrinking back when you roll it out. I use a spoon to take out a handful of dough and scrape it off with another spoon right onto a generously floured surface, sprinkle more flour on top and start rolling, adding more flour as needed.

You will have 10-15 layers of cake, depending on the size of your circles. They are very hard, but will soften when topped with pastry cream.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you’re using a tart pan, sprinkle it with flour. Bake for 4-6 minutes. Take off the baking sheet or tart pan right away. They bake really quickly, so it really doesn’t take very long to do all the cake layers. Brush off the flour with a pastry brush. To make the pastry cream, whisk the flour and cornstarch in a bowl. Heat up the milk in a saucepan just until it is starting to foam. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and then add the flour, cornstarch. Add a little bit of milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly and gradually adding the rest of the milk. There you go, tempering again, to make sure the eggs don’t curdle. Twice in the same recipe. This doesn’t happen very often. Return to the saucepan and cook on medium heat, whisking constantly again until the pastry cream has thickened. Add the salt, butter, and vanilla, stirring until the butter is melted. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, laying right on top of the pastry cream. This will prevent the pastry cream from forming a skin. Refrigerate until completely cool. In a cold bowl and a cold whisk attachment, whip up the cream. Fold gently into the pastry cream. To assemble the cake, top each cake layer with pastry cream, about 1/3 cup. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

You will need bubble wrap to create the honeycomb look. Cut out enough bubble wrap to cover the surface of the cake and cut out another strip of bubble wrap to cover the sides of the cake.

When the cake is cool and ready to decorate, mix the condensed milk, butter, and sour cream until smooth. Sprinkle the gelatin on top of the water and allow to stand for about 5 minutes. Heat in the microwave or on the stovetop until dissolved, but do NOT bring to a boil. Pour into the prepared cream and mix to combine. Since it’s so hot, it will make the cream very thin in consistency. Working quickly, pour over the cake and spread evenly on the top and the sides. It will thicken within minutes, so you have to work fast. In fact, both Sergi and I were working on this together and we didn’t even have time to take a picture. Place the bubble wrap on top of the cake, pressing gently so it adheres completely, forming the little pockets for the honeycombs. Sometimes, I put the bubble wrap only on top of the cake and not the sides. Make crumbs out of some of the cake layer scraps and press it into the sides of the cake. Refrigerate until cool. For the bees, make the ganache. Cut the chocolate. In a saucepan, cook the cream, honey, and chocolate until melted. Cool. Form little bees with the chocolate. It’s very easy to work with. Press two slivers of almond to each side for wings and pipe out white chocolate on top to create stripes. Peel off the bubble wrap from the cake.  Add the bees to the top of the cake. You can pipe a border around the outside of the cake from buttercream. (Recipe not included. I think this post is long enough.) You can bake the cake layers ahead of time and store until you’re ready to assemble the cake. You can also make the pastry cream and refrigerate it, just don’t add the whipped cream.Instead of the honeycomb topping, you can cover the cake with more pastry cream and decorate it with chocolate shavings or use one of the cake layers, crush it and sprinkle over the cake. Another option is to cover the cake with a chocolate ganache.Spartak - Chocolate Honey Layer Cake copy

Spartak - Chocolate Honey Layer Cake 2 copy

Chocolate Honey Layer Cake - Торт "Спартак"
 
Author:
Recipe type: Sweets
Serves: 9 inch round cake
Ingredients
For the cake:
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4-5 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 egg
  • 2½ cups flour
Pastry cream:
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¼-1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
For the top of the cake:
  • ½ can of cooked condensed milk, dulce de leche
  • ½ stick butter, softened
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 2¼ teaspoons gelatin
For the chocolate-almond bees:
  • 3 oz. semisweet chocolate
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • slivered almonds
  • 1 oz. white chocolate, melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat up the milk, honey, sugar, butter, baking soda, and cocoa, just until butter melts and the sugar dissolves.
  3. Whisk the egg and add a little bit of the heated batter, while whisking. This is called tempering and will keep the egg from curdling.
  4. Add the tempered mixture to the rest of the batter. Add the flour and mix until combined. Allow the dough to cool slightly, just enough that you can handle it, however, you need to work quickly because it won't roll out properly if it's too cold.
  5. Roll the dough out very thinly and cut it out into an 8-10 inch circle. I use a lid or the bottom of a springform pan to trace and cut it out with a paring knife. If you have a tart pan, that works the best, actually. Use a fork to poke some holes across the surface of the cake layer.
  6. A tip about rolling out the dough. This dough is pretty sticky, but if you add too much flour it will have too much gluten and will keep shrinking back when you roll it out. I use a spoon to take out a handful of dough and scrape it off with another spoon right onto a generously floured surface, sprinkle more flour on top and start rolling, adding more flour as needed.
  7. You will have 10-15 layers of cake, depending on the size of your circles. They are very hard but will soften when topped with pastry cream.
  8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you're using a tart pan, sprinkle it with flour. Bake for 4-6 minutes. Take off the baking sheet or tart pan right away. They bake really quickly, so it really doesn't take very long to do all the cake layers. Brush off the flour with a pastry brush.
  9. To make the pastry cream, whisk the flour and cornstarch in a bowl. Heat up the milk in a saucepan just until it is starting to foam. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and then add the flour, cornstarch.
  10. Add a little bit of milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly and gradually adding the rest of the milk. There you go, tempering again, to make sure the eggs don't curdle. Twice in the same recipe. Return to the saucepan and cook on medium heat, whisking constantly again until the pastry cream has thickened.
  11. Add the salt, butter, and vanilla, stirring until the butter is melted. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, laying right on top of the pastry cream. This will prevent the pastry cream from forming a skin. Refrigerate until completely cool.
  12. In a cold bowl and a cold whisk attachment, whip up the cream. Fold gently into the pastry cream.
  13. To assemble the cake, top each cake layer with pastry cream, about ⅓ cup. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  14. You will need bubble wrap to create the honeycomb look. Cut out enough bubble wrap to cover the surface of the cake and cut out another strip of bubble wrap to cover the sides of the cake.
  15. When the cake is cool and ready to decorate, mix the condensed milk, butter, and sour cream until smooth.
  16. Sprinkle the gelatin on top of the water and allow to stand for about 5 minutes.
  17. Heat in the microwave or on the stovetop until dissolved, but do NOT bring to a boil.
  18. Pour into the prepared cream and mix to combine. Since it's so hot, it will make the cream very thin in consistency. Working quickly, pour over the cake and spread evenly on the top and the sides. It will thicken within minutes, so you have to work fast. In fact, both Sergi and I were working on this together and we didn't even have time to take a picture. Place the bubble wrap on top of the cake, pressing gently so it adheres completely, forming the little pockets for the honeycombs. Sometimes, I put the bubble wrap only on top of the cake and not the sides. Make crumbs out of some of the cake layer scraps and press it into the sides of the cake. Refrigerate until cool.
  19. For the bees, make the ganache. Cut the chocolate.
  20. In a saucepan, cook the cream, honey, and chocolate until melted. Cool. Form little bees with the chocolate. It's very easy to work with. Press two slivers of almond to each side for wings and pipe out white chocolate on top to create stripes.
  21. Peel off the bubble wrap from the cake.
  22. Add the bees to the top of the cake. You can pipe a border around the outside of the cake from buttercream. (Recipe not included. I think this post is long enough.) You can bake the cake layers ahead of time and store until you're ready to assemble the cake. You can also make the pastry cream and refrigerate it, just don't add the whipped cream.Instead of the honeycomb topping, you can cover the cake with more pastry cream and decorate it with chocolate shavings or use one of the cake layers, crush it and sprinkle over the cake. Another option is to cover the cake with a chocolate ganache.

75 Comments

  • Lena

    Wow, this looks amazing! A lot of work for such a beautiful creation, I may be scared to eat it! 🙂 I think this is the cake I will make for the weekend, just sounds too devine… thanks for the recipe.

  • Tatyana V

    Olga, where did you find terpenie:)? This is so beautiful, and good job Sergey for helping Olga, I am sure this cake required team work… 🙂

    • olgak7

      Hi Tatyana!
      Patience is something I come up very short on. However, this cake is easier to make than it looks. I baked the layers on one day, made the pastry cream another day and assembled it on yet another day. It will definitely be much longer if you do it all in one day, though.

  • Natalia

    this cake is super cute!! Wonder how it would come out without cocoa…dont like chocolate pastries 🙁

    • Olga K.

      Actually, I think the cocoa gives the cake more color than taste. It doesn’t taste very chocolaty to me. It’s very similar in taste to Medovik.

  • Tatyana

    Karina made this cake few days ago and it is so delicious!!! It was gone in few hours!!!!!
    Thank you Olechka !!!!!

  • Marina

    Hi Olga!

    Thank you so much for the recipe! I am almost done making this cake and have a question. I made the ganache and it is so thin. 1/3 cup of cream seems too much for the 3 oz of chocolate. It wouln’t solidify. I added 2 more squares of chocolate (1 oz each) and hoping it’ll get more solid now. Can you please check the recipe to make sure you posted it right? Thank you again for sharing this wonderful recipe and all the pictures to go along. God bless you,
    Marina

  • Marina

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! for this wonderful recipe! I kept the cake in the fridge for only about 4-5 hours before serving it and it was sooooooo good, moist, and delicious. My husband said I’ve outdone myself. Our guests really liked it and had seconds. All thanks to you. I couldn’t make the bees: I ended up using 5 squares of bakers semi-sweet chocolate (1oz each) with 1/3 cup of heavy cream and one tbsp of honey and it didn’t set. It got thicker, but nothing I could roll or shape. Anyone has any ideas or suggestions? Although I did figure that I love this recipe for ganache to decorate the other cakes – it would be perfect consistency to pour over Birds Milk cake! so thank you! I love your cake recipes! Keep posting and God bless you!

    • olgak7

      I’m so glad to hear that you liked the cake, Marina. I’m sorry the bees didn’t turn out; I really can’t think of why that would happen.

  • Luda

    Oh my.. This is definitely the cutest cake I’ve ever seen! You are so creative! Btw, I just happened to stumble upon your site and have been stuck browsing your recipes for at least an hour! Everything looks so delicious, I can’t wait to try some of your recipes! Thanks for sharing and God bless!!

    • olgak7

      Hi Alla, I’ve never personally made them more than 24 hours in advance, but I’m pretty sure that you can make them a few days in advance.

  • Valentin Goncharenko Jr

    Thank you SOOO SOOOO MUCH for posting this cake Olga!!! Every time I think of this cake my mouth waters uncontrollably!! Its like Pavlov with the dogs 🙂 Definately one of my all time favorite cakes. Just the texture of the outside layer mixed with the melting in your mouth inner part:) Like a perfect girl this cake has a perfect inside which compliments the spectacular outside!!!!

  • Nadia

    I love Spartak! I would really love to make this for my son’s 4th Birthday party this weekend, but I am afraid i wont come out as good 🙁 Is it hard to bake the actual layers? is it easy to roll out?

    BTW it looks Amazing 🙂 the first time I saw it I fell in love with it. Great Job! 🙂

  • Viktoriya Montik

    Hey Olga,

    I made this cake yesterday for Romka’s Birthday, he absolutely loved it:) One quick question, can I use whip cream instead of the homemade, whipped-up heavy cream? Also, my cornstarch didn’t want to thicken the cream… any suggestions?

    Thank you so much for your recipes and ideas:)

    • olgak7

      That’s wonderful, Viktoriya!Happy Birthday to Roman.
      You can use Cool Whip instead of whipping heavy cream yourself.
      You may have not cooked the pastry cream long enough or the heat was too low. If the pastry cream isn’t thickening, I increase the temperature gradually.

  • diana

    Hi i was wondering how long does rhis cake need to stand before serving in order for the layers to soften. The spartak i make now must sit for 2 days in order for the laters to soften.

    • olgak7

      No, it doesn’t need 2 days for sure, Diana. If you let if stand for a couple hours it should be fine. I usually do it overnight, or assemble it in the morning when I plan to serve it, but it only needs a few hours to soften.

  • Dina

    Hi Olga, I love your blog and used many of your recipes. I esp. like the step by step pictures. One thing though, (my opinion only) I would really like to see the pictures on the dishes you’re describing on the home page instead of just the headings. You know they say you eat with your eyes, same thing I want to quickly skim throught the newest recipes without having to take the time to open each one or read through them.

    • olgak7

      Thank you Dina.
      What exactly do you mean? The most recent recipes are on the home page. They are below the slider, so maybe you didn’t notice it? You need yo scroll underneath the slider to see them. Hope that helps.

      • Dina

        What I meant was on the main page under the slider you have the newest recipes with the headings and descriptions but no pictures of the recipes, it would be nice to have the picture too for us visual people.

  • mila

    How long am I supposed to cook the chocolate for the bees? It took about a minute for everything to melt so took it off stove right away, its been cooling for 30 mins already and still very runny.

    • Irina

      Mine haven’t thickened either. I guess I should of boiled it until it thickens or something. So I just used tootsie rolls instead.

  • Francesca Spalluto

    Hi Olga, this cake is very pretty! I want to bake it for my girl Birthday, she is turning 3. I think you need to let rest the cake for some time to get the pastry layers to soften, right? The party is going to be in the afternoon. It is better I assemble it in the morning or the day before and keep refrigerate?

    Thank a lot for the recipe and suggestions!

    Francesca

  • Tony

    Hi Olga: This is a great looking cake I think I will try to make it this weekend. How long does it take to bake 1 layer in the oven?.
    I love your blog I love to bake. I Bake lots of different type of bread . Just started to really get into baking cakes. More of a bread and tart man. Thanks again.

  • SONA

    HI OLGA, I JUST CAME ACROSS YOUR WEBSITE AND I CAN’T WAIT TO TRY ALL YOUR RECIPES. THEY ALL LOOK GREAT AND DELICIOUS. MY HUSBAND IS ARMENIAN AND MY MOTHER-IN-LAW USED TO PREPARE RUSSIAN CAKES WHICH I ADORED, BUT NEVER HAD A CHANCE TO TRY, MAYBE BECAUSE I WAS AFRAID TO FAIL IT. YOUR RECIPES SEEMS EASY SPECIALLY WITH THE ILLUSTRATIONS STEP BY STEP. YOU ARE VERY CREATIVE PERSON. GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. I LOVE YOUR WEBSITE AND IT IS A KEEPER. THANK YOU FOR GENEROSITY.

    • olgak7

      Thank you, Sona.
      I’m glad you stopped by. I hope you’ll find many recipes that your family can enjoy:).
      Don’t be afraid to try making Russian cakes; it’s much easier than it looks. Hopefully the step by step recipes with photos will be a help for you.
      God bless you too.

  • Elona

    I tried making this cake. Top cream never completely set. Bee mixture was so runny it’s impossible to make bees out of it. 🙁

  • Regina

    Have you ever used this honeycomb gelatin mixture ontop of another kind of cake? i’m just curious if it would work for a softer cake like spice cake

  • HB

    Hi Olga. Congrats on your little treasure. I wish you all the best!
    I finally made the spartak cake and i am in love. I doubled the recipe and had 10 layer birthday cake. Replaced the cream with sour crem-condensed milk- whipped cream combination to make it a bit lighter. I was wondering if you ever tried reducing the sugar in the batter. I know you are always trying to do that where possible.

    • olgak7

      Thank you, HB. We are loving every minute with our precious baby boy.
      I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake. The recipes I have posted here on my blog already have less sugar than normal. I have just enough sugar in the recipe that I like. Of course, you can adjust it to how you like it though.

  • Julie

    Thank you for the recipe. I tried making the top cream and it didn’t work out. I think next time I will beat the butter first and then add condensed milk and sour cream little by little. The butter hardened and wouldn’t beat through all the way and the cream was chunky. 🙁

  • Sasha

    Hi Olga! I recently made your classic Medovik, fell in love with it, and so now want to make the chocolate version.

    A question though: I notice in this recipe, you barely heat up the wet ingredients for the cake layers before adding flour, unlike the Medovik recipe where you cook them until they essentially caramelize. Is there a particular reason for this difference? What do you think would happen if I were to cook the wet ingredients until they doubled like the Medovik’s (omitting the cocoa to be added afterward with the flour)? Do you think it would alter the consistency of the cake layers, like affecting “tenderness” for instance? Or would it just affect the flavor?

  • Emma

    The best cake ever! Thank you for the recipe!!! I followed every step except bubble wrap texture and bees:) sooo delicious! Looked great with that jello top! Will give a try on other cakes as well.

    • olgak7

      Hi Bill.
      You won’t be able to use a scoop since the dough is still and a bit sticky. You can divide the dough into 10-15 balls and roll each one out. They need to be very thin, but it won’t be too big of a difference if they are slightly thinner or thicker. The thinner cake layers will bake faster.

  • S.R

    Hi olga i made this cake yesterday. Overall it turned out well and our guests enjoyed it very much. But few questions.
    1) the pastry cream i followed the directions exactly but it didnt look as runny as yours to spread easily was too thick and so was little more difficult to spread and had so lumps in it, any idea what could have gone wrong?
    2) did you spray your bubble wrap? I think mine was too runny so the center part of the top of the cake made the honeycomb look well but the rest was peeling parts of the cake off and was too sticky..and also the sides were too thin because it was dripping.
    3) how did you get that dark color in the final product? Mine stayed that same whiteish color as well the bubble wrap was put on.

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