You will, however, need patience. It needs to be prepared a day in advance and, yes, it’s labour-intensive but, if done right, you’ll be coming back to this recipe for years.
Of Russian origin, this cake is adored in the Baltics.
- 50 g (1¾ oz) sugar
- 200 g (7 oz) honey
- 115 g (4 oz) unsalted butter
- 3 large eggs, whisked
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon approx.
- 610 g (1 lb 6 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
- 250 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) thickened (whipping) cream
- 750 g (1 lb 11 oz/3 cups) thick sour cream
- 220 g (8 oz) icing sugar (confectioners’)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Start this recipe a day ahead.
Cooling time: Overnight
1. Add the sugar, honey and butter to a medium saucepan and melt over a medium–low heat, whisking occasionally, for 5–7 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved fully. Remove from the heat and leave until it has cooled to under 80°C (175°F) when measured with a sugar thermometer.
2. Whisking vigorously, add the beaten egg in a slow, steady stream until incorporated. Whisk in the bicarbonate of soda and spices until no lumps remain, then use a spatula to fold in the flour 100 g (3½ oz/⅔ cup) at a time until the dough is no longer sticky and has the consistency of clay.
3. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
4. Cut the dough into eight equal-sized pieces. Take one piece and roll it out on a well-floured surface into a 22.5 cm (9 in) circle about 2.5 mm (⅛ inch) thick, sprinkling the top with a little flour as you go to keep the dough from sticking to your rolling pin. Place a 22.5 cm (9 in) circular plate or the base from a springform tin over your rolled dough and cut around it, reserving the scraps for later, then transfer the dough to a large sheet of baking paper and prick all over with a fork. Repeat with a second piece of dough, then bake the two circles for 4–5 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool. Repeat with the remaining layers.
5. Finally, arrange the scraps on a sheet of baking paper and bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Leave to cool and firm, then pulse in a food processor to fine crumbs. Set aside.
6. For the icing, beat the thickened cream in a bowl with an electric mixer for 1–2 minutes on high speed, or until fluffy and stiff peaks form. Whisk the sour cream and icing sugar in a separate bowl, then fold in the whipped cream. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to use.
7. To assemble, spread about 100 ml (3½ fl oz) icing over one cake layer, then place a second layer on top. Repeat with the remaining layers, pressing them down gently as you go, until they have all been evenly sandwiched together with the icing. Spread the remaining icing over the top layer, then dust the top and sides with the crumbs, reserving 20 g (¾ oz/½ cup) for serving. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
8. When ready to eat, sprinkle the remaining crumbs over the cake and give the bottom of the cake a wipe to tidy it up. Serve with coffee or tea. It will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
Recipe and photography from Baltic by Simon Bajada (Hardie Grant, RRP $50)