Delicate and Tender Layer Cake – Smetannik (Торт “Сметанник”)

Smetannik Cake-1-26This classic Russian cake has been in our family and on our holiday tables since before I was born. The tender and delicate layer cake is an ideal accompaniment to an evening of tea with friends or a family birthday party. The cake absolutely melts in your mouth and is not overpowering or cloyingly sweet.

The numerous layers make it beautiful and intricate but preparing it is so simple, I remember making it when I was ten. You can also add poppy seeds to the batter and it will become a poppy seed layer cake. The tangy sour cream frosting seeps into fluffy, thin cake layers and that’s what makes it so magically moist, slightly tart, with the sweetness of the honey cake layers. 

Ingredients:

Cake:

9 eggs

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 Tablespoons honey

1 1/2 Tablespoons oil (vegetable, canola, grapeseed, etc.)

1 Tablespoon baking soda dissolved in 3/4 Tablespoon distilled white vinegar

3 cups all-purpose flour

Sour Cream Frosting:

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, room temperature

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 – 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 (16 oz) containers sour cream

8 oz heavy cream or Cool Whip

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9 inch round cake pan with parchment paper and spray the top and bottom with oil. (I do 2 baking pans at one time.)
Using a standing mixer with a whisk attachment or a large bowl and a hand mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar until they are pale yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes.Smetannik Cake-1-15
Dissolve the baking soda in the vinegar and add to the batter. Add the honey and oil. Mix to combine. Smetannik Cake-1-9Add the flour and mix just until the flour is incorporated and the batter is smooth. Smetannik Cake-1-16 Smetannik Cake-1-17Spread 1/9 of the batter evenly on the baking pan. (If you want, you can use a scale and it is approximately 5 oz of the batter for each layer.) The cake layers should be very thin, the batter just covering the bottom of the baking pan. Smetannik Cake-1-28You should have 8-9 cake layers. (I set one of the cake layers aside to use for crumbs and the cake is 8 layers tall.)  
Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Smetannik Cake-1-10Repeat with the rest of the batter. The cake layers will peel off the parchment paper very easily. Cool the cake layers completely.

Smetannik Cake-1-11Meanwhile, make the sour cream frosting. Smetannik Cake-1-18In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl and a hand mixer, cream the cream cheese and condensed milk until they are an even consistency.Smetannik Cake-1-20Add the sour cream and vanilla until they are incorporated too. Mix the sour cream only until combined, don’t overmix, or it will become too runny. Smetannik Cake-1-21
Pour in the chilled heavy cream and whip on high speed until the frosting thickens. However, if the frosting is really thin, (it depends on the sour cream, some brands of sour cream become very thin when mixed) whip the heavy cream separately and then fold in gently into the sour cream mixture. You can also use the same amount of Cool Whip instead of the heavy cream.

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Place one of the cake layers in a food processor and pulse it a few times until you have crumbs and set them aside. The crumbs will be used as a decoration for the sides of the cake.

Spread the sour cream frosting on each of the remaining 8 cake layers. Smetannik Cake-1-12

Smetannik Cake-1-13Since the sour cream frosting is on the thin side, the cake layers may slip around on me. That is ok. Sometimes I use a springform pan to put around the sides of the cake to keep it all together better, place it in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. The sour cream frosting will soak into the cake layers and firm up, so the cake will be perfect at that point. This is what makes this cake so magically soft, fluffy and tender. You may have a small amount of frosting left over.

Take the springform pan from around the cake, spread some of the frosting on the sides of the cake, just to even up the sides and then press the crumbs onto the sides of the cake. Grate some chocolate on top of the cake. If you want, you can also pipe a border around the top of the cake from buttercream frosting. (butter, powdered sugar and a splash of milk.) Store the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Smetannik Cake-1

Smetannik Cake-1-7

Delicate and Tender Layer Cake - Smetannik (Торт "Сметанник")
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Sweets
Serves: 9 inches round cake
Ingredients
Cake:
  • 9 eggs
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1½ Tablespoons oil (vegetable, canola, grapeseed, etc.)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking soda dissolved in ¾ Tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
Sour Cream Frosting:
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 (14 oz) can condensed milk
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 (16 oz) containers sour cream (32 total)
  • 8 oz heavy cream or Cool Whip
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9 inch round cake pan with parchment paper and spray the top and bottom with oil. (I do 2 baking pan at one time.) You will need to do this for every cake layer.
  2. Using a standing mixer with a whisk attachment or a large bowl and a hand mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar until they are pale yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Dissolve the baking soda in the vinegar and add to the batter. Add the honey and oil. Mix to combine.
  4. Add the flour and mix just until the flour is incorporated and the batter is smooth.
  5. Spread 1/9 of the batter evenly in the baking pan. (If you want, you can use a scale and it is approximately 5 oz of the batter for each layer.) The cake layers should be very thin, the batter just covering the bottom of the baking pan. You should have 8-9 cake layers. (I set one of the cake layers aside to use for crumbs and the cake is 8 layers tall.)
  6. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Repeat with the rest of the batter. The cake layers will peel off the parchment paper very easily. Cool the cake layers completely.
  7. Meanwhile, make the sour cream frosting. In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl and a hand mixer, mix the cream cheese and condensed milk until they are an even consistency.
  8. Add the sour cream and vanilla until they are incorporated too. Mix the sour cream only until combined, don't overmix, or it will become too runny.
  9. Pour in the chilled heavy cream and whip on high speed until the frosting thickens. However, if the frosting is really thin, (it depends on the sour cream, some brands of sour cream become very thin when mixed) whip the heavy cream separately and then fold in gently into the sour cream mixture. You can also use the same amount of Cool Whip instead of the heavy cream.
  10. Place one of the cake layers in a food processor and pulse it a few times until you have crumbs and set them aside. The crumbs will be used as a decoration for the sides of the cake.
  11. Spread the sour cream frosting on each of the remaining 8 cake layers.
  12. Since the sour cream frosting is on the thin side, the cake layers may slip around on me. That is ok. Sometimes I use a springform pan to put around the sides of the cake to keep it all together better, place it in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. The sour cream frosting will soak into the cake layers and firm up, so the cake will be perfect at that point. This is what makes this cake so magically soft, fluffy and tender.
  13. Take the springform pan off from around the cake, spread some of the frosting on the sides of the cake, just to even up the sides and then press the crumbs onto the sides of the cake.
  14. Grate some chocolate on top of the cake. If you want, you can also pipe a border around the top of the cake from buttercream frosting. (butter, powdered sugar and a splash of milk.) Store the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

107 Comments

  • Ilona

    I love this cake, but never tried a home made version.. Such a beautiful dessert and looks pretty easy to make. I love the way you decorated it. Is that just melted chocolate? and did you use a special tool to make the flower decor? its simple but so pretty

    • olgak7

      Thank you, Ilona! Actually, my husband decorated it. All he used was chocolate glaze. You can find the recipe on Lady Finger’s cake. You can also use melted chocolate.

  • inessa

    Hi Olga, made this cake yesterday.. I just have one questions.. is the biskvit suppost to be spongy or a little on the tough side. My beskvit turned out like it had a little too much flour..? or that is the way it should be.? it was not soft like a regular sponge cake.

    • olgak7

      Hi Inessa,
      This is not a biskvit, (sponge cake). It’s a completely different batter and doesn’t turn out like a biskvit. The texture is harder than a regular sponge cake. It becomes very tender and delicate when you cover it with the cream frosting. If you prefer it to be a biskvit, I have a recipe for Sponge Cake on the blog too.

      • inessa

        Thank you olga for a quick responds. It was different, that is why I thought I messed up. But my kids loved it, its all gone 🙂 I did make your canoli cake and it was the best beskvit I have ever tried. Thank you for all the great recipes you post and the detailed step by step pictures.. I enjoy reading your blog. I peak here every single day hoping to see what else new I can make for my family.

  • Paramitha Nasimova

    I asked my husband, “Do you know this cake?” He said don’t know, and he start asked my mother in law, she said she made this cake a lot of time when my husband still kid. After he said, oh yes I remember this cake was really tasty!!! Hahhahaaha… Thanks for the recipe, will definitely try it 😉

  • Julia

    Hi Olia. Just a small error in the last part where it says, ” Press against the crumbs against the sides of the cake.” 🙂
    A question about that, what kind of tool do you use to press the crumbs onto the cakes sides?
    Thank you 🙂

    • olgak7

      Thanks for pointing it out to me, Julia. I’ve corrected it. I don’t use any “tool”. I use my hands or a folded piece of paper to press the crumbs against the sides of the cake.

  • Ilona

    OLga,i am planning on making this cake for this Sunday.. if i make it on friday, will it be ok for sunday.. it wont be too soggy?

  • Lily

    Hi Olga. Thank you for the recipe. I made it last Friday for a gathering and received lots of compliments! I can’t wait to try it with some poppy seeds. Of course mine looked nothing like yours, I just decorated it with graham crackers ( I don’t have a food processor to do the crumbs). LOL. It came out lopsided and my husband even called it cake “Tyap lyap”. It tasted so good though.

    • olgak7

      You can use any cake frosting that you like to use. It won’t taste the same, but adjust it to the way you like to eat your cakes:). Is there a specific reason why you don’t wish to use heavy cream?

  • inna

    Hi Olga,
    I made this cake last weekend. I loved to moist not too sweet taste. Are the cake layers supposed to be dark, golden brown? I think the honey causes them to brown quickly. I baked my first layer for 10min and it was close to being burned.

    • olgak7

      Hi Inna!
      All ovens cook differently. For example, my Mom’s oven bakes a lot faster than mine and my first oven baked slower than the one I have now. As a rule of thumb, I always start checking my baking 5 minutes before the recipe suggests, and keep an eye on it. The cake layers are golden, but use common sense to judge if it’s burning or not. If you press lightly on top of the cake, it should spring back, and not leave any indentations.

  • Ruslana

    I just wanted to ask do you whip the heavy cream yourself or you buy the pre-whipped kind? If you whip it yourself for how long? Cause I heard that buying heavy whip cream and whipping it tastes better than the cool whip from the store.

    • olgak7

      Ruslana,
      Whipping cream yourself is really easy and it definitely tastes better. Here are a few tips that I always do when I whip cream. 1. Chill the bowl and the whisk that you’ll be using. Cream whips much better in a cold bowl. 2. Use cold cream, straight from the refrigerator. I just place the bowl and the whisk attachment into the freezer for about 15 minutes. 3. You can use heavy cream or whipping cream. 4. Watch the cream as it’s being whipped. If you whip it too long, it will become butter! It’s hard to say how long, because mixer are different. If you use a hand mixer, you will need to whip it longer than if you’re using a standing mixer. To check if the cream is whipped enough, take the whisk out of the cream. The cream should be stiff enough to make a soft peak, but still soft enough that it doesn’t become butter.

  • Oksana Babich

    Hi Olga! I don’t know where you get these pan forms because I cannot find a 15×10 anywhere. Could you recommended another size?

  • Oksana Babich

    Hey! How early in advance can this cake be made and not be ruined? We are celebrating Zhatva this Sunday (10-28) and wondered when could I start making it so the cake would become tender and soft? Thanks!

    • olgak7

      Hi Oksana! You can make the cake several days in advance. Make sure to keep it refrigerated but cover it well. You don’t want the cake to taste like the refrigerator:).

  • Inna B

    1 1/2 Tablespoons baking soda – is this 1Tbls and 1/2 tsp?
    1 8 oz package cream cheese softened- is it 8oz pack right?

    Just wanted to make sure 😉

      • Inna B

        Thank you Olchik, made the cake and everyone loved it!!!! my cakes turned out more like a sponge cake for some reason , so i had to cut them in half, but it was still very good!!! (luv everysingle recipe of yours, you cook/bake my style, & to my taste, I have tried different web pages,,, but yours is AweSomE, I am not afraid to make something new when i have gests over, cuz i know it will taste good!!! Thank you for all the recipes and the hard work you put into this. God bless you & your family:)

        • Oksana Babich

          Hi Olga! Have you tried to halve this cake before? If yes, could you tell me the new measurements? Also in what kind of form size would I have to bake the smaller cake? Thanks!

          • olgak7

            You can definitely halve the recipe, Oksana. However, I can’t tell you the exact measurements. You can use any form or size that you like, just spread it out pretty thinly and bake until it’s golden brown.

      • Ruslana

        I made the cake today, but I think I used a baking pan that was a bit too big so I was scared that it looked too thin and divided the batter only into 3 , but after they baked I saw that they actually became pretty tall and therefore a little dry because the frosting didn’t absorb through the entire layer . But still tasted pretty good:)

    • olgak7

      I usually just eyeball it. If you want to be precise, use a scale. Weight the empty bowl where you will be mixing the batter and then weigh it again when the batter is ready. Subtract the weight of the bowl and then divide the weight of the batter by the amount of layers that you want to have.

  • Tania

    Olga, I was wondering what do you use to press the crumbs on the sides of the cake? I always use m my hands but on your pics it seems like a neat way to press.

    • olgak7

      I usually use my hands, Tanya. I also use a sturdy piece of paper or even a bench scraper/chopper. Next time I decorate the sides of a cake, I’ll make sure to take detailed pictures to post here.

  • Loretta

    Olga, my daughter is getting married and would like a cake like this as her wedding cake. I live in Sydney and wondered if you know of anyone who would be able to make it for me.

    • olgak7

      Hi Loretta!
      I’m honored that you would like this cake for your daughter’s wedding:). Sorry, but I don’t know of anyone who could make the cake for you.

  • Anna

    Hi!
    I was just wondering how for how long are you supposed to mix the batter? Is it supposed to rise? I mixed mine for like 10 minutes and it rose a bit and turned out like a biskvit.

    • olgak7

      It will definitely rise. My guess is that you spread the batter too thickly. The layers should be very thin. When you spread it out, it should just cover the bottom of the baking sheet. The cake layers will still rise but they won’t be like a biskvit.

  • Victoria

    Hello! i am planning to make your cake today for some guests that are coming over. I was wondering, when i cook the layers do u cut them in half or you leave them whole?

    • olgak7

      Victoria,
      You don’t need to cut the layers horizontally, since they are as thin as they need to be. You can cut the layers to a different size to make it the size that you want, but you don’t need to. It’s up to you.

      • Victoria

        Thank you! I made this cake yesterday for some guests and it was Delicious!! but i think i made the layers a little to thick…. But other than that it was an amazing cake. Thank you for the recipe!!

  • olga

    Thank you for this cake recipe. Made it many times for family get togethers and it turns out delicious every time!

  • Luba

    I made this cake, and decorated it using the chocolate glaze. But I had a question: I ended up with a lot of the glaze left over. Is it ok to keep it in the refrigerator, and then reheat it later? I’m not quite sure what to do with it now. 🙂

    • olgak7

      Yep, you can store it in the refrigerator and reheat it later.
      It’s very hard to make a small amount of glaze in order for the consistency to turn out correctly. If I need only a tiny amount of glaze, I usually just melt some chocolate. I LOVE how this glaze tastes though, so we usually put a lot on the cake. Also, when I bake a cake, it’s usually for company and most of the time I make at least 2 cakes, so it works out well too.

      • Luba

        This was the first time I tried this glaze and I actually REALLY liked it too. What a great combination of sour cream and cocoa! Thanks, ill definitely use it for something later. 🙂

  • Galya

    Thank you for the recipe Olga. I made this cake but I have a question… How long do you keep it out on counter before placing it in the fridge so it would get soft? Mine was kind of hard… Thank you very much!

    • olgak7

      I actually put mine in the refrigerator right away and it’s always soft. I do keep it in there for a few hours though, before eating it though.
      You may have baked the cake layers too long or not used enough frosting.

  • Tallya

    Hi. I’ve been eyeing this cake for a while… I have a quick question. If I bake the layers one at a time, will the batter still be okay by the time I bake the last one? I seem to always have this question when it comes to baking, dough/batter can be tricky sometimes. What is your experience with this?

    • olgak7

      I always bake my layers one at a time and it turns out great. There shouldn’t be any issues with it. Of course, don’t set the batter aside for hours, but if you bake the layers one after another, it should be just fine.

  • Liliya

    Hey Olga! started making this cake and ran out of condensed milk but have dulce de leche caramel. Will it be ok if I replace it or better go to the store???

  • Nadia

    My sister in law made this cake few weeks ago and it is very delicious! I will need to make it for my family some day soon 🙂

  • Lena

    My cake turned out more like biskvit as well and I didn’t make the layers thick so that’s not the reason. I thought 4 cups of flour was too much, my batter didnt even want to spread in a pan because it was quite thick. Nonetheless, we ate it, it was good, just not the same I imagine.

  • Louie

    I tried making this cake for Thanksgiving and it was awesome! I have to say your recipes are easy to follow and always gives good results. I have tried your other recipes too like Kiev Cake and Medovik…both turned out pretty good as well.

    Thanks for sharing your recipes!

    • olgak7

      Hi Louie,
      Thanks for such an awesome comment! I’m so glad that the recipes are working out for you. I try my best to make them user friendly, easy to follow and of course, taste great too. I share the food that my family loves and it’s always so encouraging to hear that others are enjoying them too.

  • Hasmik

    HI Olga, I tried smetannik, even copied your design. It looked awesome and tasted even better. The layers were very porous, nice texture, This was the first time I tried your frosting with cream cheese and sour cream. I have to admit I am not a big fan of cream cheese but with the help of good quality vanilla, i think this worked. Thanks a lot. What I like in your recipes is precision. I tried three and they all exceeded my expectations. The next is the Rum cake. I am baking it this Saturday.
    Cheers,
    Hasmik

    • olgak7

      Alesya,
      Use regular condensed milk, not cooked or dulce de leche. If that were the case, I would have specified it. I usually write “dulce de leche” in the list of ingredients, if the recipe needs cooked condensed milk.

  • Zletush

    Hi Olga!
    Thanks for all the recipes! I have really enjoyed everything that I’ve tried so far 🙂
    Quick question… I started making the cake, but don’t have whipping cream on hand. I do have a few tubs of Cool Whip in my freezer – could I use that instead? If so, how much should I use 1 tube or more? Any suggestions? I could just go and buy some , but trying to be thrifty and use up what I have :). Thanks a bunch!

    • olgak7

      Hi Zletush,
      Yes, you can use Cool Whip. Cool Whip is whipped cream. I don’t know how much you will need you use, since I always used whipped cream, not Cool Whip.

  • olga

    Made this cake several times:) Halved the recipe and got 4 layers using an 9 inch pan. Rose beautifully! used only half of the condensed milk in the frosting though since my grandma was coming over (has DM so everything she eats has to to be “under-sweetened” or else she wont have any)Turned out delicious every time! Blessings 🙂

  • Hasmik

    Hi Olga, I made this the second time and this time flavoured both the batter and the cream with lemon zest. I think it is a perfect combination for this cake, since already has tanginess from the sour cream. Try it when you have a chance. I think you will like it.
    Hasmik

  • Lucia

    Hi Olga,

    So i have to make this cake for an event but I am not good at making the batter or the layers. So I was wondering if i could use puff pastry instead or any other store dough? I was thinking to use puff pastry with the frosting that you suggested…

  • Lena

    Hi Olga, I’ve been meaning to bake this cake and finally did it yesterday . I followed all the directions. The cake is a bomb!!! The layers were porous and soft ;therefore absorbed the frosting quite well.I really like the frosting, not to sweet and has an interesting texture to it..Keep up the good work! May God richly bless you for being so sweet and sharing your talents and skills with others.You’re a very Special person!!!

  • oksana

    Need to make a lot in advance since I have family visiting and don’t want to spend all my time in the kitchen. Thanks in advance. You are a smart girl.

    • olgak7

      Hi Oksana. Yes, you can make the cake layers ahead of time. Seal them well. You can keep them at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator or freezer for longer periods of time. I don’t recommend storing it longer than a week.

  • hannah bright

    im baking this for a class project and im wondering if i make it the night before if it would still be good for the next day?

  • Sveta

    Beautiful cake! I want to try making it, do u think I can use cream cheese instead of sour cream?

    Thank you!

  • Viktoriya

    This cake is so good, making it again this weekend, just want to varify how much sour cream to use, is it 16oz total or 2 16oz containers (32oz total)? I ended up with alot of left over frosting the first time.

    Thanks

    • olgak7

      Hi Viktoriya.
      The total sour cream would be 32 oz. I like this cake to be very tender, so I use very generous portions of frosting on each layer. If you prefer less frosting, you can use only 1 (16 oz) container of sour cream; it’s totally up to you.

  • Lena

    Hi Olga,
    I’m trying to make a cake with a frosting from just cream cheese, cool whip, & sour cream (or maybe even without sour cream). But I’m trying to decide which cake, this one or the fluffy honey cake will taste better? I know both prob won’t be as yummy as with your frosting with condensed milk, but what would you suggest?
    Thank you so much!!

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