Russian honey cake

Check out our impressive Russian cake recipe with moreish burnt-honey icing. This layer cake takes a bit of effort to make but it's the perfect cake to show off to friends and family for any special occasion


  • 95g runny honey
  • 750ml double cream
  • a large pinch sea salt
  • 250g dulce de leche
  • 65ml soured cream
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 150g runny honey
  • 125g soft light brown sugar
  • 500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


    1. To make the icing, put the honey into a small pan and cook over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes or until it turns a couple of shades darker, and stop just before it starts to smoke. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in 150ml of the double cream and the sea salt. Pour this mixture into a small bowl, cover and chill until fully cooled.
    2. Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 and line with baking paper as many baking trays as you can fit into the oven at one time. Draw a 23cm-diameter circle on the back of each piece of paper – this will act as a template for the cake layers.
    3. To make the cake layers, put the butter, honey and sugar into a large pan, and cook for 5 minutes over a medium heat or until everything is melted and the mixture is bubbling and smelling toasty. Remove the pan from the heat and put aside to cool slightly, then pour into a bowl.
    4. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Put the eggs and vanilla extract into a jug and whisk briefly. Begin whisking the butter mixture, slowly pouring the eggs into the bowl (make sure you do whisk as otherwise the eggs could cook). Add the dry ingredients and mix in with a wooden spoon until fully combined. The finished result will resemble a slightly softer and more pliable gingerbread dough.
    5. Working while the dough is still a little warm, divide into 8 equal portions, putting aside and covering with a kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out. Working with one piece at a time, put a ball of dough onto one of the prepared pieces of baking paper, lightly flour and roll until they are very thin and just a little bigger than the template. Trim back to the 23cm circle and put the trimmings aside. Once you have rolled out as many as you can fit in the oven at once, bake for 8-9 minutes or until slightly firm to the touch and browning slightly around the edges. The finished cakes will be like gingerbread biscuits but with a little more flexibility. Slide the discs onto wire racks to cool and continue until all the discs are baked. To finish, bake all the scraps on a baking-paper-lined tray for 10-12 minutes or until fully dried out and a little crisp, plus a shade darker than the discs.
    6. To finish the icing, remove the honey mixture from the fridge and mix in the dulce de leche and the soured cream. In a large bowl, whisk the remaining double cream until it just holds soft peaks, then fold in the honey mixture. The final texture should not quite be soft peaks, it should still be a little fluid.
    7. To assemble, sandwich the honey cake layers with a little of the icing and then spread the remainder over the top and sides of the cake. Chill the cake in the fridge overnight so that the moisture in the filling can soak into the layers – this is essential to give the finished dish a more cake-like texture.
    8. When ready to serve, put the scraps of cake into a food processor and pulse until crumbs. Use them to cover the top and sides of the cake.