About the Cake
The last link is interesting. It was written by three bloggers from, I assumed, GB. Many recipes of Kyiv cake in English by Russian and Ukrainian home cooks mostly represent simplified adaptations and family versions. But these guys not only repeated the same legend about “spoiled” egg whites, but also followed the official GOST recipe pretty closely. They also have an “amusing” ending with an “Odd fact…”, which left me speechless, but oh, well…
Food Science vs. Legends
According to the legend, egg whites were left overnight at room temperature. In case of contamination, it could’ve increased the risk of food-borne illness. They should’ve been discarded, not used for inventing a new cake. Most likely, they were not spoiled, they were aged. In professional world of baking and pastry arts, the process of keeping separated egg whites at room temperature (for a few hours) or refrigerated (for a few days) is called aging. It is done in a clean closed container. Aged egg whites contain less moisture and become more alkaline, which helps to unwind the proteins and whip them into a more stable and dense foam.
Soviet vs. European Terms
During the discussion on FaceBook, we came to a conclusion that Kyiv cake meringues are very similar to a drier dacquoise, and wiki agrees. The buttercream-like filling has a name — Charlotte. It’s a Soviet buttercream based on milk and egg sugar syrup, very sweet. I suppose, this cake was so popular because of its incredible sweetness. I ate a slice of this cake for breakfast, and it kept me running the whole day. No wonder, it has generous amounts of protein, fat, and sugar. This cake is a treat with a cup of strong black coffee or black tea.
If making a cake with additional layers of thin sponge on the top and the bottom, follow this recipe.
- 200 g egg whites 5-6 eggs
- 235 g sugar fine
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 50 g cake flour
- 80 g almond meal chopped
- 75 g cashew chopped
- 200 g sugar
- 5 each egg yolks
- 150 g milk
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 1 tsp corn starch
- 250 g butter
- 1 tbsp cognac
- 10 g cocoa powder Valrohna
- Preheat oven to 275F/135C. Draw 8" circles on the parchment paper and line two baking sheets.
- If raw, roast hazelnuts and cashews (single layer, baking sheet) in a hot oven for 10 minutes. Let them cool down to room temperature. Chop the nuts to peppercorn size pieces.
- Combine room temperature egg whites, fine sugar, and vanilla seeds or vanilla extract. Whip a medium-stiff meringue.
- Combine cake flour and chopped nuts. Fold mixed dry ingredients into a meringue.
- Divide the batter into two portions and evenly spread each portion inside the 8" circles on the parchment paper. This step is easier to complete using a piping bag with 0.5" round tip. Bake for 1.5 hours. The meringue layers are done when dry outside and cream-colored. They will be slightly soft to touch, which will change after the resting at room temperature.
- In a saucepan, whisk milk, egg yolks, vanilla seeds, corn starch, and sugar to mix them well. Constantly whisking, bring the mixture to 180F/82C. Turn heat off and let it cool down, whisking. This pastry cream should be relatively thick.
- Soften cubed butter at room temperature. Using a stand mixer and whisk attachment, whip the butter until fluffy and almost white. It'll take a few minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl from time to time. Gradually add cooled pastry cream and whip the mixture into a buttercream.
- Separate 1/3 of whipped cream. Add cocoa powder and whip a chocolate cream.
- Add cognac to the rest of the cream and whip.
for assembling the cake
- After resting the meringues, peel paper from their bottoms. Cut of drier sides to make them perfect cylinders. Reserve the crumbs. Reserve 1 cup of the cream for decoration. Make a 3/4" layer of white cream on one meringue and cover it with the second meringue. Cover top and sides of the cake with chocolate cream. Press the crumbs into the sides of the cake. Decorate the top with reserved cream.