Thin layers of delicious honey cake separated by a slightly tart and super creamy frosting, our medovik is luxuriously rich and wonderfully decadent. While it takes a bit of time to prepare, the method is simple and this Russian honey cake is definitely worth the effort!
The only item on Viktor’s birthday list this year was медовик (medovik or Russian honey cake): a delicious layer cake that could easily be found in every market in his hometown. To be fair, he talks about medovik more than one might think is reasonable so this request didn’t really come as a surprise. What was a bit surprising, however, was the nostalgia-inspired recipes the medovik prompted — creamy salmon soup, grenki and almond cookies are just a few he currently has in the works! That’s all to say: this medovik is pure magic. It’s decadent, rich and may even inspire your husband to whip out his Soviet-era cookbook.
making the layers
The layers of medovik are thin honey-flavored cakes with an almost cookie-like texture. While it does take a bit of time to roll out and bake 10 layers, the dough is easy to work with and each round only needs about 5-6 minutes in the oven.
To make the dough, start by heating honey, sugar, butter and salt in a small saucepan just until the butter melts. Transfer the liquid mixture to a heatsafe bowl and add in the remaining ingredients: baking soda, eggs and flour. The dough should be quite soft, but not sticky so you can add a few more tablespoons of flour if needed. If you’re still having trouble with the dough sticking to your hands it might just be too warm — let it rest for 10 minutes and come back to it.
Now divide the dough into 10 pieces. I always use a kitchen scale to make sure my pieces are mostly even, but if they’re a little off it won’t hurt the cake. In fact, to ensure the layers are the same in diameter even after baking I prefer to roll out each piece of dough, bake it and then cut out the circle post-baking (see photos below). You’ll want to cut out the rounds right when they come out of the oven as the layers will harden a bit over time, which makes it more likely for them to crack.
And what should you do with the baked scraps? Toss them in a food processor and pulse until you have fine crumbs — we’ll be using them to decorate the outside of our medovik!
Before we move onto the frosting, here are a few tips I’ve learned for making sure your medovik layers are perfection:
- Roll out the dough on parchment paper so it can be easily transferred to a baking sheet. I don’t usually need extra flour at all for this step, but you can dust your rolling pin if needed.
- As for the size of your medovik, I cut out rounds 7.5 inches (19 cm) in diameter. You can use a lid, plate or really anything round to cut out your layers.
- The dough will be very thin, but puff up a bit in the oven. To make sure it doesn’t puff up too much in certain spots you can use a fork to poke holes all over the dough before baking.
- Keep a close eye on the layers in the oven — they only need about 5-6 minutes and can go from golden-brown to burnt in seconds.
While many russian recipes for medovik use just sour cream and sugar to create the frosting, I’ve made some adjustments as the sour cream (smetana) you’ll find in Russia is a bit different than what we can get here in the US. To get that perfect combination of sweet and tangy, you’ll need just four ingredients: sour cream, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and heavy cream.
Start by whisking the powdered sugar, sour cream and vanilla in a large bowl. Next whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form — the cream will be glossy and have a texture that holds its shape. Then just fold the whipped cream into the sour cream mixture until fully incorporated — easy! Store the frosting in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble your medovik.
After all of that work we’ve made it to the final step: assembly! Start by placing a bit of frosting on your serving platter to hold the medovik in place. Add the first layer and plop a few heaping spoonfuls (more like one ladleful) of frosting on top. Spread it over the cake evenly (but you really don’t need to be too careful) and repeat. After the final layer, spread the remaining frosting on the very top and sides of the cake.
At this point you could definitely call it good. You’ve been in the kitchen for hours — we wouldn’t blame you! The other option is to remember all of those leftover cake layer scraps that you turned into crumbs and make one last decorative endeavour. You can sprinkle the crumbs all over the cake or just spoon them onto the sides (my personal preference). Either way your medovik is beautiful and ready to enjoy… almost.
We’ve now come to the most difficult part of making medovik: placing it in the refrigerator and waiting at least eight hours (preferably overnight) until we can dig in. Is this step necessary? Unfortunately, yes. The frosting needs time to soften the layers and form a cohesive cake. Trust me — it’s definitely worth the wait!
For more of our favorite Russian fare, check out these recipes!
- pelmeni | russian meat dumplings
- pryaniki | russian honey spice cookies
- cranberry mors | russian berry drink
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