Ukrainian Christmas Cake (Perekladanets) Recipe

Close-Up Of Apricot Cake On White Background
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  • 95 mins
  • Prep: 45 mins,
  • Cook: 50 mins
  • Yield: 12 pieces (12 servings)
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This Ukrainian Christmas cake recipe is known as perekladanets and, despite its name, is served year-round. Because it's a little time-consuming to make, it's usually served for special occasions. The name perekladanets comes from the Ukrainian word for "to layer" and refers to the four thin layers of sweet yeast dough with various fillings like poppy seed, date, apricot, walnut or just cinnamon-sugar. In this recipe, I've used poppy seed, walnut, and date. This cake is similar to Russian Torte, except the latter is made with three layers of dough and a meringue top.

What You'll Need

  • Sweet Yeast Dough (Zdobne Drizhdzhove Tisto):
  • 1/2 recipe Ukrainian / Russian Basic Sweet Yeast Dough Recipe
  • Poppy Seed Filling (Nachinka z Maku):
  • 1/2 pound poppy seeds (ground, use a spice grinder)
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1 tablespoon lemon or orange juice)
  • Optional: zest of 1 lemon or orange
  • Date Filling (Nachinka z Daktiliv):
  • 2 packages/16 ounces dates (pitted, chopped)
  • 1 1/2 cups apricot preserves
  • Walnut Filling (Nachinka z Voloskikh Horikhiv):
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 pound walnuts (ground, not chopped. pulse in a food processor.)
  • Egg Wash:
  • 1 large egg (beaten with 1 teaspoon milk)

How to Make It

  1. To make the poppy seed filling: In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Gradually beat in the sugar. Add vanilla or juice and zest if using. Fold in ground poppy seeds.
     
  2. To make the date filling: In a medium bowl, stir together the dates and apricot preserves.
     
  3. To make the walnut filling: In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Gradually beat in the sugar. Add vanilla and fold in the ground walnuts.
     
  1. To assemble the cake: Divide the risen half-recipe of Basic Sweet Yeast Dough into four equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece of dough into a thin rectangle as large as you can -- anywhere from 13x9 inches to 18x13 inches -- and transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread the poppy seed filling to within 1/2 inch on all sides.
     
  2. Roll the second piece of dough to the same size as the first and place on top of the poppy seed filling. Spread on the date filling, same as before, to within 1/2 inch on all sides.
     
  3. Roll out the third piece of dough to the same size as the first and place on top of the date filling. Spread on the walnut filling, same as before, to within 1/2 inch on all sides.
     
  4. Roll out the final piece of dough about 1 inch larger on all sides than the others. Place on top of the walnut filling, pressing the edges together and turning them under so no filling escapes. Cover with a lint-free towel and let rest in a warm place for 30 minutes. It will only rise a little.
     
  5. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Prick the cake all over with a fork and brush with egg wash. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. If the cake is browning too quickly, cover the top loosely with foil. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. When cool, wrap in foil and place in the refrigerator. A cold cake makes cutting into squares or diamonds much easier. Some cooks dust the cake with confectioners' sugar.