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Moist fluffy sponge cake with hazelnuts and delicate buttercream with nut flavor – simple and so delicious is the Russian hazelnut cake “Zhuravushka”, which was very popular in the Soviet Union and has now become a rarity. Here I show you how to make it yourself. Decorated with chocolate glaze, the sweet crane image, hazelnuts and candied citrus peel, it is guaranteed to delight you and your loved ones both taste and appearance. You can find a detailed recipe for the hazelnut cake “Zhuravushka” with exact quantities and step-by-step instructions here at the very bottom.
Trademark of the cake or what does its name mean?
The word “zhuravushka” comes from the word “zhuravl”, which translated from Russian means “crane”. “Zhuravushka” is a diminutive form of it and means something like “little crane”. The hazelnut cake was named after the bird whose pattern is drawn on it. To make the crane, a stencil and either cocoa powder or powdered sugar were used.
What is the hazelnut cake “Zhuravushka” made of?
Russian crane cake consists of a sponge cake made with butter and hazelnuts. As a result, it tastes fluffy, moist, soft, nutty and is very aromatic due to roasted nuts. The cake cream is a butter cream with vanilla and hazelnuts. It tastes delicate, creamy and nutty just like the sponge cake. Traditionally, the hazelnut cake “Zhuravushka” was covered with chocolate fondant. However, its preparation requires some effort. Besides, it tastes too sweet, in my opinion. That is why many cover the cake with chocolate glaze at home. The glaze is quick to make, and it gives the cake a light chocolate taste.
Unique Soviet cake with crane image
The hazelnut cake “Zhuravushka” was one of the popular Soviet cakes offered in Russian stores and pastry stores at that time. Its sweet name and the bird picture on it could not leave indifferent anyone who once saw it on the shelf of a store. However, you could not buy the hazelnut cake everywhere and at any time. Sometimes you had to stand in the shop for hours, only to find out that the cake was already sold out. In the meantime, it has been taken out of the assortment and is hardly produced in Russia anymore. But, fortunately, there are recipes according to which you can make the hazelnut cake yourself at home.
Similarity to the cake “Prague”
Hazelnut cake “Zhuravushka” has some similarities with the Russian cake “Prague”. Both cakes consist of a butter sponge cake. Only, the sponge for the Prague cake is made with cocoa powder and for the “Zhuravushka” cake with hazelnuts. The two cake creams are also very similar, again with the difference that the cream for the “Zharavushka” cake contains hazelnuts instead of cocoa powder. Also, both cakes are covered with chocolate glaze. Only on the hazelnut cake “Zhuravushka”, on the glaze on it comes a crane drawing. In addition, it is decorated classically with candied orange peel and lemon peel.
Decorate the Russian crane cake
The trademark of the hazelnut cake “Zhuravushka” is the bird depicted on its surface. To draw it, you need a stencil. You can either buy it or make it yourself. To make it yourself, simply draw a crane on an A4 sheet of paper, which should be slightly smaller than the cake itself, and then cut out the bird. Place the stencil on the surface of the cake, dust it with powdered sugar or cocoa powder and then very carefully remove it from the cake. I had drawn the bird with powdered sugar, because it is so more clearly visible on the dark chocolate glaze. But you can do it just as well with cocoa powder. Classically, the Russian cake “Zhuravushka” is decorated with candied citrus peel in addition to the bird picture. I also decorated it with whole hazelnuts. Of course you can decorate the cake as you like. The crane drawing is not a must and has no influence on the taste.
Use leftover egg whites from the cake cream
For the cream of the hazelnut cake you need only yolks of eggs. You can use the leftover egg whites to make various delicious desserts. It is ideal especially for meringue pastry or Russian egg white cream. For example, you can use the egg whites to make the filling for the popular Russian puff pastry horns. You can also make delicate macarons or airy mini Pavlova with the egg white.
The Russian hazelnut cake “Zhuravushka” is
- an eye-catcher on the dining table,
- easy to make yourself from common ingredients,
- decorated with sweet crane picture,
- perfect for dessert during the week, on the weekend or for a celebration,
- classic from the Soviet Union, which has become a rarity,
- approx. Ø 24 cm large.
Hazelnut cake “Zhuravushka”: the recipe
The exact quantities and step-by-step instructions for making the Russian hazelnut cake “Zhuravushka” can be found in the recipe box below.
The recipe for the hazelnut cake is easy, so even someone who is not a baking professional can make it. All you have to do is bake the sponge cake, whip the cream and then cover the cake with chocolate glaze. For the sponge cake batter, you’ll need melted butter cooled to room temperature, sugar, eggs, flour, cornstarch, and hazelnuts. Be sure to toast the hazelnuts and then chop them finely. Alternatively, you can buy already roasted and ground hazelnuts. For the cake cream you need sweetened condensed milk, soft butter, yolks of eggs, a little water, vanilla and hazelnuts just like for the sponge cake. Again, you can either roast and finely chop whole nuts yourself or buy roasted and ground nuts. For the glaze you will also need milk chocolate and some butter.
How to make the hazelnut cake “Zhuravushka”: this is how it works
- For the sponge, beat eggs and sugar until fluffy, fold in flour, cornstarch and hazelnuts, then stir in butter. Pour the batter into the springform pan, bake at 180 °C for about 25 minutes, let cool and cut lengthwise into two cake layers.
- For the cream, mix egg yolks with water in a saucepan, then stir in sweetened condensed milk, heat to about 80 °C while stirring constantly until the mixture thickens somewhat, and let cool. Beat the butter briefly, add the vanilla and, in batches, the egg yolk mixture and beat to a homogeneous cream. Then stir in the hazelnuts.
- Spread all the cream on one of the two cake layers and place the second cake layer on top. For the glaze, melt the chocolate and butter together and coat the cake with it. Chill the cake until the glaze dries and decorate as desired. Done!
How to make Russian hazelnut cake: tips and tricks
- Instead of hazelnuts, you can also use other nuts for the dough and for the cream.
- You can either roast whole nuts yourself and then chop them finely or buy already roasted and ground nuts.
- To make the sponge even fluffier, I replaced a small amount of flour with cornstarch. Alternatively, you can omit the cornstarch and replace it with the same amount of flour.
- Fold the mixture of flour, cornstarch and hazelnuts into the egg and sugar mixture very carefully, but quickly, so that it remains fluffy.
- Do not add hot melted butter to the dough, but cool it to room temperature.
- To bake the sponge cake, you will need a Ø 24 cm baking springform pan.
- Test with a wooden skewer if the sponge is baked. Insert a wooden skewer briefly into the center of the sponge and see if it stays almost clean after being removed. If the wooden skewer remains smeared in raw dough, you still need to bake the sponge. If only a few moist crumbs remain on the wooden skewer, the sponge is ready.
- You can make the sponge a day before and let it cool overnight. After that, it’s easier to slice into two cake layers.
- You can make your own sweetened condensed milk for the cake cream.
- Do not boil the egg yolk-condensed milk mixture for the cream, but only heat it to about 80 °C. It is important to stir the mixture constantly.
- Vanilla for the cream can be made from vanilla sugar, vanilla powder, vanilla extract or vanilla bean.
- You can also draw the crane picture on the cake with cocoa powder instead of powdered sugar.
- You can make candied orange peel and candied lemon peel for decorating the cake yourself. In the article How to make candied lemon peel & candied orange peel at home: Recipe I show you how to do it.
- You can also decorate the hazelnut cake differently according to your taste.
- Keep the leftover cake in the refrigerator. It will keep for about 3 days.
- You can use the egg whites left over from the cake cream for a meringue pastry or Russian egg white cream. See my notes on this above.
Did you make the Russian hazelnut cake “Zhuravushka” yourself using this recipe? I look forward to hearing your results, your star rating, and your comments on the recipe below about how you liked and succeeded with the cake.
Not enough of delicious Russian cakes? Try also:
- Napoleon cake – classic recipe for popular Russian layer cake
- Medovik – classic recipe for popular Russian honey cake
- Russian cake “Milk girl” – recipe with cream cheese cream
- Cake “Damskie palchiki” – recipe for popular Russian choux cake
- Cake “Caramel girl” – recipe for popular Russian caramel cake
Russian hazelnut cake "Zhuravushka"
- Ø 24 cm baking pan
for the dough
- 5 eggs
- 150 g sugar
- 25 g butter (melted and cooled to room temperature)
- 140 g flour
- 20 g cornstarch
- 30 g hazelnuts (roasted and finely chopped or ground)
- butter to grease the baking pan
for the cream
- 250 g butter (room temperature)
- 150 g sweetened condensed milk
- yolks of 3 eggs
- 50 g hazelnuts (roasted and finely chopped or ground)
- 50 ml water
for the chocolate glaze
- 100 g milk chocolate
- 60 g butter
- powdered sugar
- whole and ground hazelnuts
- candied orange peel and candied lemon peel
Preparation of the dough
- Beat the eggs and sugar until they form a fluffy white mixture.
- Mix flour, cornstarch and finely chopped or ground hazelnuts and add to the egg-sugar mixture to make an airy, thick batter.
- Gently stir melted and cooled butter into the batter.
- Line the bottom of the baking pan with parchment paper and grease the sides with butter. Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake in a preheated oven at 180 °C top and bottom heat for about 25 minutes. Let the sponge cake cool down afterwards and then cut it lengthwise into two equally thick cake layers.
Preparation of the cream
- Mix egg yolks with water in a small saucepan to a homogeneous mass.
- Add sweetened condensed milk and mix again until homogeneous.
- Place the mixture on the stove and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, to about 80 °C until the mixture thickens slightly, do not boil it. Then let it cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
- Beat soft butter for approx. 3 - 4 minutes to a creamy white mass, add the cooled egg yolk mass in portions as well as vanilla and beat to a homogeneous cream.
- Stir finely chopped or ground hazelnuts into the cream.
Preparation of the chocolate glaze
- Melt milk chocolate and butter together.
Preparation of the cake
- Spread one of the two sponge cake layers generously with all the cream and place the second cake layer on top.
- Cover the cake with the chocolate glaze and dust the edge of the cake with ground hazelnuts. Chill the cake for about 30 minutes until the chocolate glaze has dried.
- Place a crane stencil on the cake, dust with powdered sugar and then very carefully remove the stencil. Decorate the cake with whole hazelnuts, candied orange peel and candied lemon peel.
- Instead of hazelnuts go also other nuts for the dough and for the cream.
- To make the sponge even fluffier, a small amount of flour was replaced by cornstarch. Alternatively, you can omit the cornstarch and replace it with the same amount of flour.
- Under no circumstances add hot melted butter to the dough, but first cool it to room temperature.
- Use a wooden skewer to test if the sponge is done baking.
- You can make the sponge a day ahead and let it cool overnight.
- Do not boil the egg yolk-condensed milk mixture for the cream, but heat it only to about 80 °C. It is important to stir the mixture constantly.
- The crane image on the cake can be drawn with cocoa powder instead of powdered sugar.
- The cake can also be decorated as desired.
- Note the detailed tips and tricks for DIY Russian hazelnut cake "Zhuravushka" above in the post.