Anka Torte

Anka Torte

Lemon Anka Cake

Lemon Anka Cake, or the favorite cake of Sofia Andreevna, Tolstoy’s Wife

Okay so it’s slightly a long title, but it’s a wonderful cake! I’ll give you both the back story of the cake and of how I ended up with the recipe. First the cake itself. This was a cake made regularly by the long suffering (in my opinion) wife of Leo Tolstoy. It is named Anke cake after the doctor friend of Sofia Andreevna’s family. The recipe was given to her mother and then on to her. It was so loved by the Tolstoy family that Leo himself said, “a holiday without Anka Cake is like Christmas without the Christmas tree or Easter without the colored eggs.” (true quote!)  The reason, by the way, that I say she was long suffering is that she had 13 children (8 of whom survived to adulthood) and hand copied! by candle light no less! War and Peace 7 times. Can you imagine? Plus it sounds like Tolstoy was not a gem to live with, given that he kept trying to give away their land. Sofia Andreevna was also an accomplished diarist and photographer. Personally, and to be fair I’ve never been a huge Tolstoy fan, (he’s too pushy/preachy for my taste) his wife sounds far more interesting. This cake is from a cookbook of hers.

Now on to how I got the recipe for this lovely lemony cake. I am a member of a group called Postcrossing where you exchange postcard with people from around the world. I like to exchange not only postcard, but recipes where I can too. This recipe came to me from a lovely woman in Russia who had visited Yasnaya Polyana, Tolstoy’s manor and museum (a place I’d love to see!) and bought the very cookbook mentioned above. She sent it to me as part of a recipe and tea swap. While the recipe itself was written in English, I’ve translated the measurements from the metric. Therefore if they seem a bit odd, that’s why.

Serves 8-10

Kid Friendly Tasks- Curd Spreader

Ingredients For the Cake

  • 3 1/3 c Flour
  •  1 stick + 1/3 c butter
  •  1 c Sugar
  •  3 Egg yolks
  •  ¾ c Milk (or 200 ml if your measuring cup marks those)
  •  Pinch salt

Ingredients For the Filling

  • ½ c butter (slightly less really)
  •  1 c sugar
  •  the peel from 2 lemons
  •  the juice from 3 lemons
  •  pinch salt


  1. Preheat oven to 360. Beat the eggs and sugar until pale yellow. Add the butter and mix well. Add the milk and flour, alternating those. Pour into a buttered and floured 9 inch cake pan. Bake one hour. Cool slightly, remove from pan and then cool completely. Meanwhile, make the filling.
  2. Mix the peel and juice of the lemons. Beat the eggs, butter and sugar together. Add the lemon mix. Pour into a pot and heat over low heat, stirring regularly until mixture thickens (this will take a while and it will become thicker, but not thick like pudding.). Remove from heat and cool completely.
  3. Slice cake into third. Pour 1/3 of the lemon mix onto each layer of the cake, stacking as you go. The final third of the curd should go on the top. Let sit for 6-8 hours so the flavors merge.

Serve with tea and your favorite Tolstoy story. Enjoy!

Anka Torte

Anka Torte



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