This Ukrainian poppy seed cake goes by so many names! In Ukrainian we call it “shenoschi premhe” (women’s whims) “Korolevsky”(kings cake), “tort ckazka”(fairy tale), or “tre bohatera” (the three rich). It’s a delicious moist 3 layer sponge cake with layers of walnuts, poppy seeds, and raisins, all smothered in a rich dulce de leche buttercream! You can expect requests for this poppy seed cake recipe, it will quickly become a favorite!

Ukrainian poppy seed cake with walnuts and raisins

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Ukrainian cakes are amazing! We love easy cake recipes and this one really hits the spot! Try our other popular Ukrainian desserts like this Honey Layer Cake, Medovik Roll, Super-moist Smetannik (Sour cream cake), and Chocolate and Vanilla Volcano Cake (Pancho cake).

Ukrainian Poppy Seed Cake Recipe

Out of all the Ukrainian and Russian cakes this one is probably my favourites! I’d choose this dessert any day over Spartak, Napoleon, or Medovik.

a slice of Ukrainian poppy seed cake

This one Ukrainian lady bakes sponge cakes for orders and one of her most popular cakes is this poppy seed layer cake called “tort ckazka”. This poppy seed cake is a copycat of her version, only the cream frosting is way easier and I omitted drizzling each cake layer with dulce de leche.

As I was naming this layer cake I realized there were so many different variations and names. Some name it “Royal cake”, others make this poppy seed cake with a chocolate layer, without, plain, and so forth. However, the base of this European sponge cake all resemble alike with the Multi-cake layers mainly of poppy seeds. If you haven’t tried this fluffy and soft cake, it’s pretty amazing!

I’m so smitten with this multilayer cake, it’s incredibly moist and so delicious! No soaking is required, yet the cake is feather light. I typically cook a can of condensed milk for this recipe, add some whipped butter and you have an easy frosting!

rectangular Ukrainian cake

Tips to a Moist Sponge Cake:

As with any sponge cake recipe the trick for perfectly moist sponge layers is the sour cream. Although many Biskvit recipes have common ingredients it’s key to beat the eggs until they turn pale, then add the leavening, sour cream, and flour. I also find it important to bake this thinner as it cooks quicker and makes for a moist crumb. The baking soda makes this light and airy and the sour cream definitely adds moistness to a typical dry sponge.

Ingredients You’ll Need:

This poppy seed sponge cake has super simple ingredients. I buy poppy seeds from Azure, and typically use pecans instead because they grow right here on our farm. For a rich frosting use European-style butter.

ingredients for sponge cake layers

  • Sponge Cake Layers- call for typical cake ingredients like flour, leavening, eggs, and sugar, but the sour cream definitely takes it up a notch. If you have vanilla sugar it’ll make for flavourful cake layers, but if you don’t, just skip it or add vanilla extract.
  • Cooked Condensed Milk Frosting- is basically dulce de leche beaten with softened butter. I cook sweetened condensed milk in the instant pot to get a dark caramel color, but you can already buy it brown at most stores in the Mexican aisle. Follow my Instant Pot Dulce De Leche instructions if you want to make your own. Always cool it completely before adding to cake recipes.

Ingredients for frosting and cake garnish

How To Make the Different Sponge Cake Layers:

After you whip the cake batter you will need to divide the batter into 3 equal parts and mix in the add-ins to each layer. To get even layers I weigh my mass of batter in grams and then divide it by 3 to get the exact amount of batter for each layer. For me it was 344 grams of batter for each cake layer before the add-ins.

The add-ins are raisins, nuts, and poppy seeds, mix in one of each to every cake layer.

What Size Pan Should I Use?

I used two 13x9 cake pans lined with parchment paper. Since this cake does make 3 layers I simply left one layer in a mixing bowl while two baked at the same time. Then I removed one from the cake pan and washed the pan in cold water to quickly cool it off before lining and spreading the last batter into it. You can also get by with one pan if you bake each layer separately with my quick cooling hack. I do not recommend the batter to sit in parchment paper too long as it can stick afterwards, so keep it in the mixing bowl until its ready to go into the oven.

How To Make Poppy Seed Cake:

  1. Prep the cake ingredients and get the sponge cake layers going. Beat the eggs, granulated sugar, and vanilla sugar over high speed in a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer (about 20 minutes).
  2. Meanwhile, prep and line two rectangular cake pans (20×30 cm) with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. When the cake batter has got pale and thick, and the sour cream. Then beat in the baking soda.
  4. Turn off the mixer and using a wire whisk, stir in the flour going in one direction. Don’t stir vigorously, it could deflate the cake batter.
  5. Divide the batter into 3 equal parts (I use a scale to weigh the batter in grams then divide that number into 3 to get the total amount of batter for each layer).
  6. Fold in the add-ins (walnuts, raisins, and poppy seeds) to each cake layer. You should have one layer with poppy seeds, the other with nuts, and one with raisins.
  7. Spread each batter into the prepared pans and bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes. Cool layers.
  8. Assemble and frost the cake layers in this order: walnut layer, cream, poppyseed layer, cream, and raisin layer finished off with cream. Frost the top and sides.
  9. Garnish the sides with unsweetened coconut flakes and allow the cake to sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving or refrigerate it overnight.

Tips for Storing This Ukrainian Cake:

Most sponge cakes rely on syrups or delicate frostings to stay moist, this cake is truly baked moist from the oven. That means you don’t need to wait too long in order to serve it. However, I like to keep this cake at room temperature before serving, the cake crumb is super soft this way. If the time allows take the cake out of the fridge a couple hours before serving. Otherwise just keep it refrigerated.

Can I Make-Ahead?

Yes, the biscuit (korzhi) layers can be baked and cooled, then wrapped in plastic wrap and kept room temperature or frozen until assembling. If you decide to frost the cake and keep it in the fridge until serving it will keep well up to 6 days.


  1. The frosting ingredients is enough to frost the entire cake, so, the garnish is optional. Get creative and coat the sides with unsweetened coconut flakes, chocolate shavings, or cake crumbs.
  2. Use European-style butter for rich flavor.
  3. Sour cream is used very often in Eastern European baking, here it makes the cake layers very soft and moist.


Ukrainian Poppy Seed Cake with Walnuts and Raisins (Ckazka)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Assembling:: 20 minutes
Servings: 15 square slices
This Ukrainian poppy seed cake goes by so many names! In Ukrainian we call it "shenoschi premhe" (women's whims) "Korolevsky"(kings cake), "tort ckazka"(fairy tale), or "tre bohatera" (the three rich). It's a delicious moist 3 layer sponge cake with layers of walnuts, poppy seeds, and raisins, all smothered in a rich dulce de leche buttercream! You can expect requests for this poppy seed cake recipe, it will quickly become a favorite!



Sponge cake Layers:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or 235 grams of freshly milled soft white wheat)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (300 grams)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream (350 grams)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda (9 grams)
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar (4 grams)

Mix-ins for The Cake Layers:

  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup nuts
  • 1/3 cup poppy seeds


  • 300 grams softened butter (2 sticks and 5 Tbsp)
  • 500 grams dulce de leche (a little over a 15 oz can)


  • 187 grams softened butter (13 Tbsp)
  • 275 grams dulce de leche (the rest of the 15 oz can from the frosting)
  • 1 cup walnuts (coarsely ground)



  • cake pans for poppy seed cake
    Prep: preheat the oven to 350°F and line three 13x9 cake pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • beaten eggs for sponge cake
    Make the sponge cake layers: In a stand mixer with the wire attachment combine the eggs, sugar, and vanilla sugar; beat over high speed for 20 minutes.
  • sponge cake batter
    Beat in the sour cream. Then mix in the baking soda until combined. Turn off the mixer and using the wire whisk attachment gently stir in the flour moving in one direction.
  • add-ins for sponge cakes
    Divide the batter into three equal portions (weighing 344 grams each), fold in each mix-in per layer (poppy seeds, raisins, and nuts.)
  • baked sponge layers
    Spread each batter into the prepared bans. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Cool completely, then peel off the papers.
  • frosting poppy seed cake
    Make the Frosting: beat the butter over high speed until thick and fluffy. Mix in the Dulce de Leche until combined well. Spread over cake layers and frost the top and sides.
  • For the Garnish: Beat the butter until pale and thick then mix in the dulce de leche. Apply additional cream to the cake where needed and pipe out 10 swirls over the edges, using a Wilton 1M. Coat the sides with nuts and sprinkle some on the edges near the swirls.


  • Pans: If you don't have three cake pans you can bake each layer one at a time. I do suggest leaving the batter in its bowl until you're ready to spread it and bake. This is because the batter will seep into the paper and it can stick later.  
  • Garnish is optional: it's just a good way to use up the rest of the other can. The frosting alone will be enough to frost the entire cake, however, if you make the garnish you will have extra cream for the sides and to pipe out the designs on top. 
  • European-style butter is more rich and flavourful. 
  • For even layers, divide the batter into 344 gram portions. 
  • I have used 100% freshly milled soft white wheat with excellent results. 

Nutrition per serving

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 520kcalCarbohydrates: 38gProtein: 6gFat: 40gSaturated Fat: 20gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 116mgSodium: 341mgPotassium: 181mgFiber: 2gSugar: 21gVitamin A: 1004IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 82mgIron: 2mg


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