Today we open our Russian Monday section with the recipe of "Medovik" - Russian Honey cake dedicated to all athletes competing at Olympic Games in Sochi!
The mere name of the Honey cake evokes memories of a pleasant evening spent over a cup of tea or a fun child’s birthday party. Real homemade "Medovik" is delicate, delicious, fragrant and not at all sugary dessert that even person who can’t stand honey would never refuse.
There is an interesting story about Empress Elizabeth, wife of Russian Emperor Alexander I. She did not like honey, all Court cooks knew about it and made sure never to use honey in their recipes. However, once there was new ambitious young cook who has been just accepted to work for the Court and was eager to impress everyone with his talents. His recipe was brand new and indeed his cake has been warmly welcomed and deserved highest praise of the Empress – layers with custard were literally melting in the mouth. When she asked about ingredients of the cake, young cook has been embarrassed to answer, because someone has already told him about Elizabeth’s dislike of honey. However when he admitted that honey was the major ingredient, Empress only laughed and ordered to reward new cook. Since then Honey cake became favorite dessert of Elizabeth and has been always present on every royal feast table.
For more Russian recipes, visit Russian Cuisine page.
"Medovik" Honey cake is very popular in Russia and most often is baked for children’s parties. These days Honey cake is often present in dessert menus of the most expensive restaurants and sold in stores under variety of names such as “Honey Bee”, “Honey”, “Miracle” or simply “Honey Cake with sour cream”. However, the most delicious Honey cake is the one you have baked yourself. Many cookbooks offer their own version of the recipe but I hope you’d be inspired by the one I’d like to offer you.
With all this praise, you may ask - does Honey cake have any negative sides? Yes, but only one – the speed with which it would disappear from your table! Be sure you would never need to worry about how to store it or concern yourself with expiration date by which it may go sour!
For the layers:
- 5 cups (500g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (200g) sugar (you can mix brown sugar and granulated sugar together, if you like)
- 3 eggs
- 8 Tbsp. (113g) unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
For the cream:
- 2 cups milk
- 3 eggs
- 2 Tbsp. (40g) corn starch
- 8 oz. dulce de leche (milk caramel)
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
For the layers: Preheat oven to 375F.
Whisk together the eggs, set aside.
In a saucepan, bring 2 inches water to a simmer. Place the sugar, butter and honey in a heatproof bowl and set over the simmering water. Melt, stirring occasionally. Add the eggs, and mix until pale color, about 3-4 minutes. Add baking soda and cook for one more minute. Your mixture should be fluffy and double the size.
Transfer the egg-butter mixture to a mixer, and add the flour. Mix on low speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Your dough should be warm, soft, little sticky. But don't put more flour.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and press together gently. Knead the dough few times and form into a ball. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. Cover them with plastic wrap or kitchen towel to prevent from drying.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the cake layers. Roll it out thinly into a circle. Use the bottom of a cake pan, cake ring, or the bottom of a tart pan to cut around it with a paring knife to make a perfect circle. Save all the scraps just the way you cut them and place them on a baking sheet and then bake. Later, you can crush them into crumbs and sprinkle the sides and top of the cake. Using a fork, prick the dough in several places.
Bake for about 3 minutes each. You will have 8 perfect cake layers.
Transfer the cooked scraps to a food processor and process until breadcrumb stage is reached.
To make the cream:
In a saucepan, heat the 1 1/2 cups of milk, but don't boil.
In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup of milk with the eggs and cornstarch until smooth. Slowly whisk the egg mixture into the warm milk; bring to a simmer over moderate heat, whisking constantly until very thick, 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. Whisk in the butter and dulce de leche (milk caramel).
To assemble the cake:
Top each cake layer with about 1/2 cup of cream and spread it around evenly. Repeat with all the cake layers. As you place the layers on top of each other, some of the frosting will come out of the sides. Spread it out evenly over the sides. Sprinkle the crushed cake layer scraps over the sides and on a top of the cake.
Leave the cake in the refrigerator for about 8 hours or overnight. Enjoy!!!