This traditional Slavic spartak cake features chocolatey cake layers alternated with a sweet custard cake cream. Festive, delicious, and so decadent! 

A slice of Chocolate Layer Cake

In Eastern Europe, layer cakes are super popular. You’ll find them in so many different shapes, varieties, and styles. This chocolate spartak cake is amongst one of the most beloved, often popping up at everything from birthday parties to holiday celebrations.

A Little Background on Slavic Spartak Cake

For those that grew up in a Slavic community or have close Slavic friends, the spartak cake has likely graced your table on more than once occasion. In this recipe, we stick to the most traditional style of this classic cake, which features thin chocolate cake layers alternated with custard-infused cake cream.

Making a Spartak Cake from Scratch

Making this spartak cake requires a bit of patience and a handful of simple ingredients.

  • Make the Cake Batter: Over a water bath, combine the sugar, egg, butter, honey, and milk in a bowl. Whisk until the mixture doubles in volume. Next, stir in the cocoa powder and baking soda. Remove the batter from the steam bath and add in the flour slowly. 
  • Portion the Dough: Divide the dough into 11 equal balls. Roll a piece of dough into a thin layer with a rolling pin on a floured surface, using a plate to “measure” it and create a consistent size (don’t worry about being perfect – you will trim them once they’re baked). 
  • Bake the Cake Layers: Next, bake the cake layers at 350°F on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for about 5-8 minutes each. Remove the cake layer from the oven and place the plate you measured it with on top, using it as a guide to cut a perfect circle. Place the cake layer on a wire rack to cool and repeat until all the cake layers are baked and trimmed. 
  • Make the Custard: Whisk the eggs with flour until all the lumps are gone. Next, pour the milk into a heavy saucepan and add in the egg mixture, vanilla extract, and sugar. Cook on medium-low, stirring constantly until it thickens to a texture similar to sweetened condensed milk. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool at room temperature. 
  • Make the Cake Cream: Next, use an electric mixer to whisk the room temperature butter until smooth. Slowly, add in the cooked custard and whisk until well-combined. 
  • Assemble the Cake: Distribute the cream across the cake layers, leaving a bit left over to decorate the outside of the cake. Stack the cake layers on top of one another, one by one. Frost the outside of the cake and decorate it as you wish. Enjoy!

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Make a quick chocolate ganache to decorate the top of the cake by boiling 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream and pouring it over 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Let it sit for a few minutes until the chocolate melts and stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature and frost the cake as you wish!

Chocolate Layer Cake on a cake stand

3 Handy Tips & Tricks

A couple of handy tips & tricks will help you nail this spartak cake recipe. 

  • Split the dough into 11-13 pieces for an 11-inch cake. If you’d like a shorter and wider cake, divide the cake dough into 11-13 pieces. This is also a great route to take if you want to spend less time rolling out the dough and baking the layers! 
  • Cut the recipe in half or divide the dough into 15-17 pieces for a 6-inch cake. If you’d prefer a taller, skinnier cake, divide the batter into 15-17 pieces. 
  • Save the leftover cake crumbs for decorating. Save the cake scraps, blend them up in a food processor, and use them to garnish the top and sides of the cake.
A slice of Chocolate Layer Cake

Make-Ahead & Storage Best Practices 

Spartak cake is great for prepping a few days in advance. Here you’ll find all the tips you need to prep it ahead of time and store it. 

  • Make-Ahead: Prepare the spartak cake up to 3 days in advance. The longer it sets, the more the flavors will develop and the better the cake structure will be. 
  • Storage: Keep the cake stored in an airtight cake container in the fridge to protect it from damage and prevent it from soaking up any smells in your refrigerator. When stored properly, leftovers will stay fresh for up to a week. 


Do you add the flour to the cake batter before or after you take it off the steam bath?

You add the flour after you take it off the steam bath to help thicken it.

Do you need to add vinegar to the baking soda to prevent the cake from being bitter?

No, the bitterness of the baking soda will disappear as the cake bakes.

Why did my eggs scramble in the steam bath?

To prevent the eggs from cooking in the steam bath, make sure you whisk them constantly until the custard is smooth and doubles in volume.

Should you use melted or room temperature butter?

Use room temperature butter for the cake cream, not melted butter. This will help yield the best consistency.

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About Author

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Natalya Drozhzhin

Natalya founded Momsdish to demonstrate that placing a homemade meal on the table is not hard at all. Natalya makes cooking easier and approachable, by simplifying the ingredients, while still producing the same great taste.