Wenceslas cake – sweet Soviet happiness with a “pearl”

Wenceslas cake – sweet Soviet happiness with a "pearl"

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Fluffy moist chocolate sponge cake, delicate butter cream, fruity sour cherries and the flavor highlight – the crunchy nutty caramel brittle are combined in the Wenceslas cake. Not without reason, it was one of the most popular cakes in the Soviet era, which was hard to get hold of and quite expensive. Here I’ll show you how to make this then famous and now forgotten dessert yourself at home. You can find a detailed Wenceslas cake recipe with exact quantities and step-by-step instructions here at the very bottom.

The “pearl” of the Wenceslas cake

The trademark of Wenceslas cake, its “pearl”, the thing that made it so special and distinguished it from all other Soviet cakes, was brittle, with which it was coated. The caramelized nuts give the cake a unique crunchy effect. Moreover, the brittle makes the Wenceslas cake a sweet eye-catcher on the dining table.

History of the Wenceslas cake

Even though the cake has a Czech name (Wenceslas namely comes from the Czech male first name Václav. Saint Wenceslas was a Czech prince.), it was not invented in the Czech Republic. It is believed that the confectioners of the restaurant “Praga” in Moscow, more precisely its head confectioner Vladimir Guralnik, invented the Wenceslas cake, as well as the Bird’s milk cake, the cake “Praga” and the chocolate sponge roll “Czech Roulade”. The offer of the Wenceslas cake, which could be bought in some Soviet confectioneries, was limited. Thus, it was quite difficult to get hold of them. One could not avoid an hour-long queue, but even it did not guarantee success. Besides, the Wenceslas cake cost 5 rubles, which was very expensive for that time.

Wenceslas cake recipe

What fruit for the cake?

Classically, the Wenceslas cake was prepared with pickled sour cherries from the jar. However, I used frozen sour cherries for the recipe, because they taste much fresher and fruiter than those from the jar. They also provide a tart note to the cake. Alternatively, you can make the Wenceslas cake with other fruits of your choice – whether pickled, frozen or fresh. However, I recommend you to use tart fruits because they bring a flavorful change to the sweet cream. If you use pickled fruit, just drip it off and then spread it on the cream. Fresh or frozen fruit you need to pre-cook briefly, as I did with sour cherries.

Which nuts to use for the brittle?

You can make the brittle for the Wenceslas cake with any nuts. Just toast them beforehand so that they develop their aroma and flavor. I used hazelnuts for this recipe. However, walnuts or peanuts work just as well. You can also use a mixture of different nuts.

Special cake cream

Just like the Wenceslas cake itself, the cake cream that makes it is special. It is a butter cream made with milk kissel (Russian pudding-like sweet made of milk and cornstarch) and without eggs. As a result, the cream tastes particularly tender and has a snow-white color.

Soviet cake with brittle

What can I prepare the day before?

You can make the sponge cake the day before, let it cool thoroughly, and then wrap it airtight in plastic wrap, for example, and store it at room temperature overnight. The next day, it’s even easier to slice into several cake layers than right after baking. You can also make the brittle the day before. This way, your cake will be ready quickly the next day. Because you then only have to prepare the cream, cook the sugar syrup to soak the sponge cake briefly, depending on your taste, and then assemble the cake.

How to decorate the Wenceslas cake?

Like so many other Soviet cakes, Wenceslas cake was traditionally decorated with pink and white flowers and green leaves from the butter cream. If you want to do it the same way, you will need appropriate food coloring, a piping bag and different piping nozzles, especially a star nozzle and a leaf piping nozzle. I decorated the Wenceslas cake only with large white flowers from the cream. For this I used a ball nozzle.

The Wenceslas cake is

  • moist,
  • fluffy,
  • creamy,
  • fruity,
  • chocolaty,
  • with crunchy, caramel, nutty brittle,
  • incredibly delicious,
  • easy to make with common ingredients,
  • ideal for a party or as an ordinary after-dinner dessert,
  • sweet classic of Soviet cuisine.

Brittle chocolate cherry cake

Wenceslas cake recipe

The Wenceslas cake recipe you’ll find below consists of a few steps that require a certain amount of time, but otherwise it’s not difficult. First, you’ll need to briefly pre-cook the cherry filling if you’re using fresh or frozen fruit. With preserved fruit, you omit this step. Then bake the sponge cake. While it is cooling, you can make the brittle. To do this, caramelize sugar with nuts and let it dry. To soak the sponge cake, boil the sugar syrup briefly. Finally, prepare the cake cream by first boiling the milk kissel and then whipping it together with butter. Now you just have to assemble the cake.

How to make Wenceslas cake: tips and tricks

  • You can replace cornstarch in the sponge cake with the same amount of flour. With cornstarch, however, the cake layers taste more tender.
  • You can also not soak the sponge cake. However, it will taste less moist then.
  • To bake the sponge cake, you need a Ø 20 cm baking springform pan.
  • Test the sponge cake to see if it is done. Insert a wooden skewer briefly into the center of the sponge cake and see if it comes out clean. Alternatively, you can gently press on the surface of the sponge cake with a finger about halfway down. If it springs back after you press it, and no marks remain, it’s done.
  • Butter, the milk kissel and rum for the cream need to be room warm and all three about the same temperature so they can combine well when whipped.
  • You can simply omit alcohol from the cream and sugar syrup.
  • Instead of sour cherries, you can use other pickled, fresh or frozen fruits. You don’t need to pre-cook pickled fruits, but fresh and frozen ones do.
  • You can use any nuts for the brittle. Just toast them first.

Did you make the Wenceslas cake yourself using this recipe? I’m looking forward to your result, your star rating and your comment here below on how you succeeded and tasted the Soviet cake.

Not enough of delicious Soviet cakes? Try some more:

Wenceslas cake – sweet Soviet happiness with a "pearl"

Wenceslas cake

Fluffy moist chocolate sponge cake, delicate butter cream, fruity sour cherries and the flavor highlight – the crunchy nutty caramel brittle are combined in the Wenceslas cake. Not without reason, it was one of the most popular cakes in the Soviet era, which was hard to get hold of and quite expensive. With this recipe you can make this then famous and now forgotten dessert at home.
Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 30 mins
Cooling time 2 hrs
Course Dessert
Cuisine Russian, Soviet
Servings 10

Equipment

  • Ø 20 cm baking springform pan

Ingredients
  

for the sponge cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 120 g sugar
  • 25 g cocoa powder
  • 15 g cornstarch
  • 85 g flour
  • 8 g vanilla sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt

for the cream

  • 300 g butter room warm
  • 130 ml milk
  • 130 g sugar
  • 20 g cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp rum (liqueur or cognac) room warm

for the filling

  • 250 g sour cherries frozen
  • 1 tbsp sugar

for the brittle

  • 80 g nuts (hazelnuts in my case) roasted and coarsely chopped
  • 160 g sugar
  • 30 ml water
  • 1 pinch of citric acid food grade

for the sugar syrup

  • 90 ml water
  • 70 g sugar
  • 1 tbsp rum (cognac or liqueur)

Instructions
 

Preparation of the cherry filling

  • Put frozen sour cherries in a saucepan with sugar and heat slowly over low heat, stirring, until juice has formed and the cherries are thawed.
  • Now bring the cherry mixture to a boil and simmer for about 1 minute.
  • Remove the saucepan with the cherry mixture from the heat, let the cherries steep in the syrup for another 30 minutes or so, and then drain them thoroughly.

Preparation of the sponge cake

  • Line the bottom of the baking pan with baking paper.
  • Beat eggs, sugar, vanilla sugar and salt to a light and fluffy mixture.
  • Mix flour with cornstarch and cocoa powder and add it to the egg-sugar mixture to make an airy, thick sponge batter.
  • Pour the batter into the baking pan, bake the sponge cake in a preheated oven at 180 °C top and bottom heat for about 35 minutes and let it cool down.

Preparation of the brittle

  • Put sugar and water in a coated pan and bring it to a boil over medium heat without stirring it.
  • Once the sugar mixture boils, add citric acid, stir it gently and continue to cook it over medium heat until it turns a light brown caramel color.
  • Once the sugar syrup has turned a light brown caramel color, add chopped nuts and stir it thoroughly.
  • Take the nut-caramel mixture off the heat, immediately pour it (carefully – very hot!) onto a sheet of baking paper and spread it evenly and thinly on the baking paper with a wooden spoon. Let the brittle cool and set.

Preparation of the sugar syrup

  • Put sugar and water in a small saucepan, boil it briefly while stirring and let it cool.
  • Stir rum into the sugar syrup.

Preparation of the cream

  • Mix sugar and cornstarch in a thick-bottomed saucepan.
  • Add milk and mix thoroughly until a homogeneous mass without lumps.
  • Place the saucepan on the stove and bring the milk mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring. Then cook it, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes, and let the milk kissel cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  • Beat softened butter until fluffy and creamy, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the milk kissel in batches, beating each time until it is a homogeneous cream.
  • Add rum and whip again briefly to a homogeneous cream.

Preparation of the cake

  • If necessary, break off a piece of brittle for decoration, set it aside and chop the remaining brittle coarsely or finely according to taste.
  • Separate the sponge cake lengthwise into three equally thick cake layers.
  • Drizzle the three cake layers with the sugar syrup.
  • Spread two cake layers generously with about half of the cream, spread the sour cherries on the two cake layers and stack them on top of each other.
  • Place the third cake layer on top, now spread the top and sides of the cake with the remaining cream, leaving some cream for decoration if necessary.
  • Sprinkle the top and sides of the cake with the brittle crumbs, decorate as desired and chill for at least 2 hours.

Notes

  • To bake the sponge cake, you need a Ø 20 cm baking springform pan.
  • Test the sponge cake to see if it is done. To do this, briefly insert a wooden skewer into the center of the sponge cake and see if it comes out clean. Alternatively, you can use a finger to gently press on the surface of the sponge cake about halfway down. If it springs back after being pressed, and no marks remain, it's done.
  • Butter, the milk kissel and rum for the cream need to be room warm and all three about the same temperature so they can combine well when whipped.
  • You can simply omit alcohol from the cream and sugar syrup.
  • Instead of sour cherries, you can use other pickled, fresh or frozen fruits. Pickled fruits do not need to be pre-cooked, fresh and frozen ones do.
  • Note the detailed tips and tricks for making the Soviet Wenceslas cake at the top of the post.

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