A really indulgent and admittedly slightly old-fashioned dish, this salmon and caviar cake reminds me of some prosperous years our family enjoyed in the 1990s, managing to recover from the blows of the collapsed Soviet regime. While the cake was the star show at most family gatherings, I remember really clearly the very first time I tasted it at my uncle’s and aunt’s dinner party. My adult self is pleasantly surprised to think that as a child I seemed to have really enjoyed the rather sophisticated taste of smoked fish and caviar. Risking living up to the cliché of wealthy Russians gorging on pancakes with caviar, I chose to include this recipe here simply because it is undeniably delicious. I mean what’s there not to like about a cake made entirely out of thin lacy crêpes, layered with fresh herbs, cucumbers, cream cheese, salmon and caviar! Of course, as any cake, it should be made for a very special occasion and treated with real awe. You can go retro with the decoration if you’d like to relive the 90s, or opt for a more contemporary minimalist look, as I did here.
Makes 1 cake, 8 slices
For the pancakes
300g of plain flour
2 pinches of salt
4 tbsp of melted butter
350ml of whole milk
300ml of boiling water
50-70g of butter for frying
For the filling
400g of thick Greek yoghurt or sour cream
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 medium bunch of dill
2 tsp of pink peppercorns in brine
4 tsp of capers
2 tsp of jalapeños
1 large cucumber, thinly sliced
200g of smoked salmon
200g of poached salmon
50-100g of red caviar
180g of cream cheese
In a large bowl, whisk together plain flour, salt, melted butter, egg, whole milk and boiling water until you get a smooth runny batter.
Heat up a frying pan and melt a teaspoon of butter to grease it. Pour 1/2 a medium ladle on the pan and swirl around till you have one thin even layer. Fry on one side for about 40 seconds to a minute. Flip and fry on the other side for another 30 seconds.
Stack the crepes on a plate and continue to fry until all the batter is used up. The mix yield around 30 crepes.
To prepare the filling which will go between the layers of buttery pancakes, mix 400g of Greek yoghurt with juice and zest of 1 lemon, dill, pink pepper corns, capers and jalapeños, all finely chopped. Taste for seasoning and add a small pinch of salt if you like.
To assemble your cake, add the yoghurt mixture between every two pancakes, and then alternate the layers of smoked and poached salmon, cucumber and caviar. Keep staking them up until you’ve run out of ingredients. You might have a few pancakes leftover, which is never bad news!
To finish your masterpiece cover the entire cake with cream cheese before serving it proudly to your guests. Make sure they all take a moment to admire your creation and only then cut into it to reveal the beautifully coloured layers.