Kyiv Cake (aka Kiev) is light and airy in the center, with a bit of a crunch, sandwiched by soft sponge layers. It’s a true Ukrainian Classic cake. It takes an effort of love, but the outcome will have you come for seconds!
What is Kyiv Cake
Kyiv Cake originated in Kyiv, Ukraine, back in the 1950’s. It was such a big deal, that it was almost a crime if you visited Kyiv and didn’t bring the cake back as a souvenir to your friends. Over the years it has gotten popular and now boasts a top choice among the favorite dishes of Ukraine, just like its few other siblings, Pelmeni (technically Russian) and Poppy Seed Buns.
This Kyiv cake has light sponge layers, followed with a crunchy layer of meringue with hazelnuts, and then filled with jam and a rich buttercream-like frosting. For this recipe, you’ll need to prepare a Sponge Cake, which can be prepared a day in advance.
How to Make Kyiv Cake
There are several different layers involved in making the Kyiv Cake. To make your life easier, some of the layers can be done over a few days.
Making Sponge Cake
To make the sponge cake, beat eggs with sugar until fluffy. Gently fold in the flour, pour the batter into cake pans and bake for 30 minutes.
To make the meringue layer, beat room temperature egg whites until increased in volume. Gradually add sugar until fully incorporated. Stir in the hazelnuts and spread onto parchment-lined pans. Bake at 250°F for 6 hours. Avoid opening the oven door to prevent extra moisture from going in. You want to dry the meringue out completely.
Hot Tip: If you have leftover meringue, make meringue cookies and use them to decorate the top of the cake.
Making Cake Cream
To make the cake cream, beat the egg yolks (left from the meringue above), then add water and condensed milk. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly until thick and creamy. Turn off the heat, add chocolate chips, then stir until melted. Set aside to cool off. In a separate bowl, beat butter, adding the cream mixture a few spoonfuls at a time until combined.
Finalizing the Cake
To assemble the entire cake, first slice through the sponge cake layers. Cover each layer with jam, except for the top one. Frost the bottom layer of the sponge cake with cream, place a layer of meringue, followed by more cream. Then repeat the steps until the cake is finalized. Frost the sides and top with cream and decorate!
Making Kyiv Cake in Advance
You can make the Sponge Cake days in advance. It can be stored in an airtight container for a few days on the counter or kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.
You can put the cake together 2-3 days in advance. In fact, Kyiv cake will be best when you make it at least 24 hours before serving. This will allow for the flavors to soak up and give you the best results.
How can I tell if meringue is done?
The meringue is done when it is dry and hollow. It comes off easily when you lift it off the parchment paper. The thicker the layer, the longer it takes to dry.
How do I keep my sponge cake from deflating?
To keep the sponge cake from deflating, slowly and carefully fold the flour into the egg mixture. Don’t use all the flour at once, sprinkle the flour at the top and mix it in, a portion at a time.
More Cake Recipes
- Fruit & Prune Lumberjack Cake – Slightly sweet fruit cake
- Cake Prague – Chocolate cake on overload
- Zebra Cake – Kid-friendly marble cake
- Honey Cake – Cream cheese and honey cake
- 1 sponge cake See link to a recipe above
- 6 egg whites at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 cup hazelnuts chopped
- 2 cup jam strawberry, peach or apricot
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup water
- 8 tbsp condensed milk
- 4 oz chocolate chips
- 400 g Unsalted Butter room temperature
- Prepare an 11 inch sponge cake. Refer to our famous Sponge Cake recipe.
- Whip egg whites on high speed until they are doubled in volume.
- Gradually add sugar until well combined.
- Using a spatula, stir in a circular motion while gently mixing in the hazelnuts.
- Spread the mixture onto 11 inch baking pan, lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake it at 250°F for 6 hours.
- In a small pot, beat egg yolks. Add water and condensed milk, and stir until smooth.
- Cook all ingredients on very low heat. Continue mixing the cream the entire time to prevent the cream from sticking to corners. Slowly increase the heat, but do not bring the mixture to a boil. Cook until the mixture attains the texture of condensed milk, about 5-10 minutes.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and add chocolate chips. Allow a few minutes for the mixture to melt, before mixing it through. Let the mixture cool off to room temperature.
- In a separate bowl, beat butter. Once the butter is fluffy, add the cream mixture to the butter, a few spoonfuls at a time, until fully blended.
- Using a serrated knife, slice the sponge cake horizontally in half. Cover each layer with jam, excluding the top layer.
- Place the first layer of sponge cake and cover it with cream, followed by meringue, then again, a layer of cream.
- Once the cake is put together, frost the sides, then top with the remaining cream and your choice of decoration.
Help my meringues stick to paper 😞 made twice now and no joy. Got to try again any tips please as I’ve tried
Hi There, The only thing I can think of is that the meringue was not baked long enough. It needs to completely dry out in the oven. You will know when the meringue is baked when it can easily be lifted off a piece of parchment and the bottoms are nice and dry. I hope this helps clear things up.
im in the middle of making it! so far it looks great and from the light snacking i did it also taste great. my meringue turned out pretty tall, so i think im going to cut it. before i do, what ratio of sponge cake/meringue do you reccomend?
Hi Oren, we usually follow this recipe with one sponge cake and meringue in the center. It will be pretty tall but that's they way it should be. It's the perfect airy center. Enjoy
My sponge cake just came out of the oven and it is only an inch thick, not 2-3 inches like in your pictures. This will be very difficult to cut in half. I am wondering if you know why my cake is so "short"?
I was planning to beat my eggs for 10 minutes per the instructions with a handheld mixer, however at 8 minutes it looked thicker than in your video, so I stopped beating them. Do they "fluff" up before thinning out? The beaten eggs also looked a bit more yellow than in your video. When I put the batter in the 11-inch pan, it appeared to be a very thin layer.
Hi Jorge, The main problem is, you under beat the eggs. Even if they look like they are done, it's important to beat the eggs for the full 10 minutes otherwise the cake doesn't rise properly in the oven. I hope this helps for the next time you make the cake. Thank you for reaching out!
Hi Natalya, it’s Saturday morning; I’ve already made the pound cake & the meringue for the Kyiv Cake, but the event I’m bringing it to isn’t until Monday. Will both the cake & the meringue keep fresh in the fridge if l assemble everything on Sunday evening or Monday morning?
Hi Steve, Yes they should both be just fine in the fridge in an air tight container. Thanks for reaching out, Happy holidays!
Hello, can I substitute jam for carmel?
Hi Julie, You can! Good luck and happy holidays!
Can you clarify if this requires one or two sponge cakes? And does it make one or two meringues ? Not sure about the layers.
I made an 11 inch cake, it was delicious, next time I would double the frosting, you can never have too much.
Hi Liz, Glad to hear the recipe was a success! Thanks for sharing! As for frosting, yes some people prefer more, others less. Enjoy!
Hi Liz, This recipe requires one sponge cake and one meringue. The sponge cake is cut in half and the meringue is put in the center of the 2 halves of the sponge cake. Hope this makes sense.
Hi. My daughter is making this for European day at school. We are making it today to take to school first thing on Tuesday. Do we store the finished cake in the fridge or at room temperature. Also what sort of container should we store it in please?
Hello Amelia, that sounds so lovely, I hope the cake is enjoyed by all! The finished cake can be stored in an airtight container for a few days on the counter or kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.
The only part of this cake that turned out well was the cream. I had to make the sponge cake twice because the first one didn’t rise, and the second one didn’t either. The meringue was all burnt.
I was planning to make this cake for my birthday this year and I’m happy that I tried experimenting and trying it beforehand so I don’t spoil my birthday with this.
Hi Diana- I'm so sorry this cake didn't work out for you. Sometimes meringue can be tricky, if your oven runs hot you may need to lower the temperature when baking the meringue so it doesn't burn. As for the sponge cake- if it doesn't rise it could be that it's over beat or under beat. It needs to be 3x the size in volume, in the video I show you what the batter looks like (beat for 4-5 minutes on high). I hope these tips help if you decide to give it another go. If not, I hope you find the perfect cake recipe and have a happy birthday!
I lived in Kyiv many years ago & still have many Ukrainian friends who are now refugees. I love the city & culture & always loved this cake. I'm so excited to make it in support of my friends.
I've slowly been making the various parts of the cake & will finally assemble it all tomorrow using strawberry jam. The directions & comments have been very helpful. I used a 10" springform pan for the sponge cake & meringue & they both turned out perfect. Using room temperature eggs, butter, & water I believe helped.
Thank you for this recipe.
We'll enjoy it wih a large crowd on Easter
Hi Clare- thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I'm so glad your cake is coming along nicely! Enjoy!
This cake is amazing...so I am told. I have made it four times and gotten raves every time. I ordered raw hazelnuts from Oregon and roasted them. Also used a homemade orange marmalade for the spread. Found that you can make the meringue in an air fryer in about half the time. I am going to try a lemon version of the frosting for a friends birthday. May use less butter, for sure.
Hi Seth- an orange marmalade spread sounds amazing! It sounds like you're a pro at making this cake now. 🙂 Also- please do share more about the merengue layer being made in an air fryer- I'm so intrigued!!
I am planning to make this lovely cake for the weekend, but was wondering what, if any, changes I would need to make for my altitude of 7300 feet? Thank you!
Ohh I'm honestly not sure, Regina. I haven't tested this recipe at higher elevation so I don't have any tips for you. Wish I could be of more help!
Loved the cake but the frosting/cream calls for so much butter (400 g) and it really tasted like eating chocolate butter. Just curious if this is a traditional frosting?
Hi Lauren- yes, it is. The frosting in this recipe is a pretty rich one, it certainly does use a lot of butter!
I was given Ukraine as our dinner club cuisine to cook. The only thing I’d ever heard of before that was Ukrainian was Chicken Kiev 🥴. So glad I found this recipe for dessert - Nice recipe to follow and I found the quantities accurate. I didn’t have hazelnuts so used pecan nuts instead - they worked very well! I had a lot of merengue break off while taking it out the tin - This worked out well for garnish. I got a lot of ‘oooooohhhs’ when I brought the cake out. All in all a really nice recipe that has obviously been used many times before to get the instructions right for novices like me! Wish I could post a pic of my creation 🤤😄
Hi Caitlin- your dinner club sounds like an awesome time! I'm so glad you enjoyed this recipe, it really is a Ukrainian classic. I'm glad you found it easy to follow and I wish we could see a picture of it as well! I hope you try some more slavic recipes, there are so many delicious ones that you'll love. 🙂
How long in advance can the meringue be made?
Hi Terri- the meringue layer can be baked a few days in advance, just make sure its well wrapped/covered or in an air tight container so that it stays fresh!
I am based in the UK and have made this cake three times. I think that the recipe is good, but I would suggest the following tweaks:
1. Unless you are feeding giants, halve all quantities and use a 8 inch (20 cm) tin - it will still feed 12 easily,
2. Add 2-3 tablespoons of rum to the butter,
3. Use crumbs from the meringue to garnish the top of the cake along with 12 whole hazelnuts,
4. Plain flour cannot be substituted for all-purpose flour (use self-raising flour instead),
5. Transfer the baked sponge to a cooling rack, leave for 2 minutes, and then invert it and leave it in the tin to cool completely, but still on the rack. (Fatless sponges made with self-raising flour can lose their shape if removed from a tin whilst still warm.)
Hi John- wow, thank you for this detailed feedback! I am certain other readers will find these tips so helpful. It sounds like you are a pro at making this cake now!
I LOVE this cake. We made it in a celebration of Ukranian culture. Thank you so much for sharing. Praying for Ukraine!
Jeannie- I'm happy to hear you enjoyed this cake; and thank you for your support and prayers!
I made this cake today . The directions are very helpful and easy to make it. I and everyone that tried loved it . I substitute hazelnuts with almonds.
Hi Irini - That's awesome to hear! Glad you found the process easy and even tweaked the cake to make it your own.
Quick question...it says to line the pan for the meringue layer with parchment or foil. Do you have to line the sides of the pan or just the bottom?
Hi Shay- Just the bottom should be good. Hope this helps!
How many pans of cake does the sponge batter make? The recipe implies more than one. Do you split the meringue as well? Or is it one pan of each and you only split the sponge cake one time? Which type of chocolate chip -- unsweetened, semi sweet, or milk chocolate? Thank you.
Hi Stacey- I would recommend semi-sweet chocolate chips. As for the cake layers- you would make one pan of sponge cake, and cut it in half. (Sometimes I'll cut the sponge cake into 3-4 layers if I decide to split my meringue in two layers, but to simplify it- just make one sponge cake and split it into two layers, and one meringue layer.) Hope this helps!
I just finished putting this cake together. I am baking this particular recipe at the request of a customer who is gifting it to a friend. I found this recipe to be extremely difficult because it is so vague. So much information is just missing and the answers to questions in the comments are not clear. It was also frustrating to have to read dozens of comments to get answers, and moreso because it's evident so many people have the same questions. Words like whip and beat are used when the photos show a whisk. Anyway, I hope the customer likes the cake.
Hey Stacey- I'm so sorry that parts of the recipe seemed vague or unclear. Was there a particular part I can help clarify?
The recipe and instructions are crystal clear. Which type of chocolate chips??? 😂
I’m excited to make this also but I have to say this was the most confusing recipe. For instance it shows pictures of the meringue but right near it it says beat the egg yolks. Why don’t you just take the time and rewrite the whole recipe so that it’s really clear I’m sure that would be better than again having to read every comment. But we do appreciate the recipe don’t get me wrong
Hi Deb- I'm sorry to hear there were some confusing parts in the recipe. Can you please clarify more? Was the confusing part in the actual recipe steps, and if so, what number? We'd love to clarify the recipe but I want to understand which step/picture you are referring to 🙂
My spongecake did not rise so I had to bake 2 cakes, but I Put quarter of a cup of sugar per cake , so that will be too sweet, should I put less sugar on the whip cream., also 400 g how many butter stick is that on my conversion it comes out is 3 1/2, I think that’s too much butter, can you please clarify that, I need help
Hi Rosie- the sponge cake recipe calls for 3/4 cup of sugar, so 1/4 cup of sugar will not make it too sweet. I would recommend following the recipe as it is for best results. 400 grams of butter is equivalent to about 3.5 sticks of butter, correct. It's a richer frosting! Hope these tips help!
Hi I am so looking forward to making this tomorrow. I have two questions. 1. Can I make the sponge in 2 - 8 in pans instead? 2. Can I make the meringue in an 8 in pan as well? In other words can I make everything 8 inch instead. That's the size of the baking pans I have..Thank you!
Hi Anna- great question. Yes, you can use 2 8inch cake pans instead, this will help prevent the batter from overflowing. If possible, bake your meringue in 2 8inch pans as well- otherwise the thicker the layer of meringue, the longer it will take to bake/dry out. Hope this helps. Happy Baking!
Hi. I too am making your Kiev Cake this weekend in honour of the Ukraine. I am wondering if the condensed milk is sweetened condensed milk or just regular condensed milk?
Made a Kiev cake for our collection for Ukraine tomorrow. Happy with outcome. Let's hope they enjoy and make lots of money.
That is so fun, Mairead! And for a great cause too! Thank you for your support.
Hi Catherine- I believe those two items are the same thing. Happy Baking!
My father has asked an Ukrainien dessert for his birthday and this looked yummy! However i qas a bit confused and wanted ro make sure i understood. There is only the bottom a d top layer that are sponge cake correct? I got confused with the line and was looking for another layer in between: “ Repeat for each remaining layer of sponge cake, until you reach the top.”
Hi Audrey- sorry for the confusion. You would make one sponge cake, and cut it in half. (Sometimes I'll cut the sponge cake into 3-4 layers if I decide to split my meringue in two layers, but to simplify it- just make one sponge cake and split it into two layers, and one meringue layer.) As for layering the cake, it would go as follows: Sponge cake on bottom (with jam on that sponge cake), cream, meringue layer, cream, sponge cake (with jam on the underside), and then frost the entire cake with remaining cream frosting. Hope this helps!
This answer helps a lot. I am making three of these gluten free for a local fundraiser for the World Central Kitchen. We are having a taste of Ukraine dinner here on the coast of Maine. Between this cake and your Halushki recipe(made 800 dumplings), I am having a blast in the kitchen.
Wow, love what you guys are doing, Seth! Thank you for sharing. I hope the taste of Ukraine dinner is a total success!
Great, thank you so much!!!
I plan to make this cake this week in honor of Ukraine. Do you think it would taste good if I use coffee in place of water in the cream?
Me too Gail! I am hosting an International Women's Day brunch, and am going to give this a try!
Hi Gail, what a sweet gesture. I haven't tried using coffee in place of water so I'm not sure. If you give it a try, let us know how it tastes!
The coffee in the cream was very good and I would include it in the future. However, my meringue domed in baking, creating a large empty space at the bottom. (In case it’s relevant, I had cut the recipe in half and used an 8 inch pan. I baked for the full 6 hours and cooled it in the oven.). Any idea why and how I can prevent this?
Hi Gail- thanks for the feedback. I haven't had this happen so I'm not entirely sure why, perhaps lower the oven temperature a bit next time? Maybe the fact that it was a smaller/thinner merengue layer needs a bit less heat or baking time. I hope this helps, and I hope that you enjoyed the cake otherwise!
This happened to me this time . I realised that i had not turned the oven down , i was able to rectify as it was early on in its cooking process by giving a little push back into place . it worked fine .
Thank you for sharing your feedback. I think it will help others.
I love this cake! It has everything I like. The crunch of the meringue with the nuts and the butter cream is my new favorite. I used raspberry preserves because I love chocolate and raspberries. I have 10” pans so made 2 10” meringues using the same amount of eggs. I needed more buttercream because more layers of it. My family loved it - but cutting through 2 1/2” layers of meringue is tough! We were thinking next time to crumble the meringue into large crumbles! Do 2 or 3 alternating layers of the large meringue crumbles and buttercream. I realize it’s not traditional but think it maybe cool to have the buttercream more interspersed with the meringue .
Hi Louise- thank you for the feedback! I'm glad you enjoyed this cake- using raspberry jam sounds like a delicious option. You have me craving a slice of this cake now!
I am making this cake tomorrow - so excited - but a bit confused. The recipe refers to making 1 meringue in a 11” pan. A comment refers to 2 meringues in 11” pans. So , should we make 1 or 2 meringues?
I like the idea of 2 meringues - sandwiched between the yummy cream. If so, do I still use a total of 6/eggs whites and each meringue layer is thinner? Or do I use more egg whites?
Also do I increase the cream since there is another layer? Or is each layer just thinner?
Can’t wait to make this! I appreciate the help!
Hi Louise - It's 1 meringue. If you want to do 2, I would still use the same amount of eggs, half the batter, and bake it in two separate rounds. The cream would stay the same as well and you would just make each layer thinner. Hope this helps and thanks for reaching out!
This cake looks so yummy. I will do tomorrow. I have a question please:
I will do the meringue in two 9 inch cake pan, so how can put them at the cake? Different layers ?
Jam ( on sponge cake)
Sponge cake with jam
Is this correct please
Thank you 🙏🏻
Hi, Ludmilla. Yes, that order of layers should work fine! Keep us posted how it turns out, I'm drooling for this cake now. 🙂
Should there be cream between the last meringue / cake?
This buttercream should have a page of its own. Absolutely AMAZING!!! I’ve made it with white chocolate chips too when I need to make a colorful cake.
That is a great tip, thank you for sharing, I'm glad you enjoyed the recipe!
Hi, I was wondering in between assembling and serving cake the next day should I keep it in the fridge or leave it on the counter? And since it is summer I am worried about cream melting in the heat... do you have any tips? Thank you 🙂
Hey Milda, you should definitely keep it refrigerated until ready to be served. Enjoy
The meringue was a huge fail for me 🙁 I have worked with meringue many times and 250° is just way too high of a temperature for meringue. Low and slow is the best way that doesn't brown the meringue. Especially if putting all the meringue in one cake pan and there's so much of it to bake. Lesson learned!
It’s better to do 250 for for 40 min, 4hours on 230 and then the rest of hours let cool in oven.
Hey Jenny, Sorry it didnt come out as you expected. Thanks for sharing your feedback!
I'm making the meringue in one 10 inch cake pan. How long do you think I should bake it for?
Jenny, baking time can be reduced by a few minutes. Also, every oven does run at slightly different temperature so I would keep an eye on it. Hope this helps.