Medovik (Russian honey cake)
This is the result of much trial and error and discussion here. Thanks to everybody who contributed, especially to Gfron and Kerry Beal for the biscuit recipe, which is only slightly modified.
It's a long recipe, but not technically very difficult. It's easiest to break it up into two or three days- the first day for the biscuit and filling, the second for the assembly, the third for finishing and decoration.
If you don't want to use cake rings and freeze the cake, you don't have to. You could just build it like any other layer cake, but the presentation will suffer (unless you have some extremely good spatula skills).
If anybody has any questions, use the discussion linked to above. It's a really nice cake to make, and looks pretty too.
Behold, the Medovik.
Makes 1 x 16cm cake
- 60g honey (as flavorful as possible)
- 4g bicarbonate of soda
- 100g butter
- 100g sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 265g plain flour, sieved
- In a saucepan, warm the honey and soda. Once the frothing dies down a little, add the butter until fully melted. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
- Transfer to a bowl (not a stand mixer, the quantities are too small) and whisk in the egg in two additions. Make sure the mixture is not too hot, or it will cook the egg.
- Add the flour in two or three additions. Mix until homogenous. The dough will be fairly stiff, somewhere in consistency between a pâte à choux and a pâte sucrée.
- Divide the mixture into ten, and heat the oven with two baking trays inside to 180°C.
- Place one ball of dough between two sheets of baking paper, cut to around 30x30cm. Using a rolling pin, roll it as thinly as possible, keeping a fairly regular shape. You can’t roll it too thin; you want to be able to see daylight through the dough and paper. Make sure it’s big enough to cut a 14cm circle out of.
- Keeping the dough between the paper, place it on a baking tray and place the second tray directly on top of it. Bake for around six minutes, until deep golden brown. Prepare another piece of dough.
- Once out of the oven, remove the top layer of paper immediately, replace it, flip it over and remove the second layer. Using a 14cm cake ring/pan, cut out a circle of dough. Work quickly, while the biscuit is still soft. Leave to cool, and reserve the trimmings.
- Bake and cut the rest of the dough pieces, reusing the paper. If you have a large oven, you can do several at once. You will end up with 10 perfectly flat, circular discs and a bowl of trimmings.
Crème fraîche Chantilly
- 50g double cream
- 25g honey
- 1 vanilla pod
- 4g gelatin, bloomed
- 450g crème fraîche (at least 30% fat)
- The day before you need it, heat the cream with the honey and vanilla pod (scraped) until simmering. Take off the heat and stir in the gelatin.
- Add a tablespoon of crème fraîche, whisk to combine, and slowly incorporate the rest to prevent the temperature from dropping too quickly and pre-setting the gelatin.
- Store overnight in the fridge.
- The following day, transfer to a bowl large enough to whip it in, and place in an ice bath. Remove the vanilla pod.
- Whip until it starts to firm up and hold its shape- just past soft peaks.
- Reserve until you are ready to assemble.
Dulce de leche
- 200g dulce de leche, preferably not too liquid (bought or homemade)
- Salt, to taste
- Pour/scoop the dulce de leche into a bowl.
- Season to taste (just enough to cut the sweetness) and mix well.
- Reserve until you are ready to assemble.
Honey soaking syrup (optional)
- 100g water
- 100g honey
- Combine water and honey in a saucepan.
- Heat until fully dissolved. Do not bring to the boil.
- Transfer to a container and leave to cool to room temperature.
Neutral glaze (optional, smooth, slightly diluted apricot jam may be used as a replacement)
- 50g sugar
- 50g water
- 4g pectin NH
- Combine the pectin with the sugar.
- Bring the water to a boil, pour in the sugar-pectin mix while whisking, and whisk well.
- Boil for 20 seconds, whisking continuously.
- Remove from the heat, transfer to a container and leave to cool.
- Using a 14cm diameter x 4.5cm high cake ring, place it on a sheet of acetate or parchment paper. Place this on a chopping board or other flat surface that will fit in your freezer. I strongly recommend lining the ring with acetate, it will make unmolding a lot easier.
- Place a biscuit disc in the ring. Soak with syrup if using, be generous but don’t drown it.
- Add 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of Chantilly, and spread evenly.
- Add another biscuit disc, pressed down onto the cream. Soak (if desired).
- Add a tablespoon of dulce de leche, and spread gently and evenly.
- Repeat until you reach the top of the ring. You probably won’t use all of the layers, normally 7 or 8 will fit comfortably.
- Ensure that the top layer is Chantilly. If you end up with a layer of dulce de leche and one or two millimeters of space, cover with Chantilly rather than another biscuit disc.
- Place another sheet of acetate or parchment paper over the top and press down. Aim for as few air bubbles as possible. Place another chopping board or flat object on top, and weigh it down with something heavy.
- Freeze for at least 3 or 4 hours.
- Prepare a 16cm diameter by 4.5cm high cake ring as in step 1. Whisk the remaining Chantilly until it loosens up, becoming a little more liquid.
- Fill the ring around 1/3 full with Chantilly.
- Unmold the frozen cake, remove the acetate, invert it and push it into the Chantilly so the naked biscuit is facing upwards. Keep it centered. Push down all the way, until the biscuit is flush with the top of the ring. The cream will come up the sides. If there is too much, scrape it off with a spatula, keeping the biscuit clean of any cream. If there is not enough, pipe some into the gaps and even out with a spatula.
- Cover the ring as in step 8 and freeze overnight.
Coating and decoration
- Biscuit trimmings
- White chocolate
- Take the biscuit trimmings and blitz them in a food processor until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Set aside.
- Temper the white chocolate. Spread finely on a sheet of acetate.
- Working quickly before the chocolate sets, sieve a spoonful of crumbs over the chocolate.
- Once it is dry to the touch, cut into triangles around 5cm x 2cm and one small (2cm) circle, and roll up. Leave to set.
- Using the chocolate circle as a base, build a flower, gluing each “petal” with more tempered white chocolate. Once complete, pipe a small cone of Chantilly (if there is any left) into the center, and dust with more crumbs. Reserve in the fridge until necessary.
- Once the cake is frozen solid, unmold and remove the acetate.
- Brush an even layer of neutral glaze or jam onto the sides of the cake. Work quickly, but ensure you do not miss any patches. If there are uncoated patches, the crumb will not adhere and there will be white patches on the finished cake.
- Pour the crumb into a wide dish. Roll the edges of the cake in it to coat evenly.
- Place the cake on a grill or board. Sieve a spoonful or two of crumb evenly over the top. Gently brush off any clumped crumbs on the sides with your fingertips or a brush. There should be no white patches on the cake. If there are, you can patch them up will a pinch of crumb.
- Transfer to a serving platter. Place the chocolate flower on the cake and leave to defrost- around 3 to 4 hours out of the fridge, double that in the fridge.
- Serve with Champagne or Russian tea.