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jmacnaughtan

Medovik, Russian honey cake

71 posts in this topic

jmacnaughtan, your cake looks very nice! Good work!

Crème fraiche often doesn't react the same way as sour cream. I have had poor results with it when using it as a substitute, as well.

I too need to buy some honey to attempt this cake---no one hold their breath, since this isn't happening right away. I think buckwheat is best for this application or at least that seems right to me from reading the recipe.

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Really strange, almost like a cross between choux pastry and cookie dough. There was no way I was going to be able to roll it out fresh, so I let it sit in the fridge for a few hours, which turned it into ultra-soft sweet pastry.

I rolled it as thin as possible, around 1mm, and after cooking each layer ballooned up by about 4 or 5 times, surprising and dismaying me.

I've never made this cake, but we make a couple of tortes at work that start with biscuits (cinnamon biscuit for a cinnamon torte and shortbread round for a chocolate nut torte) and rather than rolling it out, I simply press the dough onto the base of a springform pan that's been grease/floured. Or if I need to produce dozens of rounds at a time, I trace the rounds on parchment paper and just press the dough onto the paper, making sure the layer is level. Not sure if that helps, but it may be worth a shot. Good luck!

eta: I agree that buckwheat honey has more flavour than 'standard' honey. If I can get it, that's what I like to use for honey cakes.


Edited by Pam R (log)
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Passed along from gfron1 - his uncle is a Russian history scholar - and he asked his uncle to get him a recipe from one of his students.

Melt 3 tablespoons of honey, then add 1 teaspoon of baking soda in the
melted honey. Stirring, melt in 1 pack of margarine (200 g), add 1 cup of
sugar, stir thoroughly until everything is well blended, cool down, stir
again. In this cooled down mixture add 2 eggs and 3.25 cups of flour, stir
thoroughly until mixed, create a roll of dough and split into 7 pieces: 6
for the layers and 1 for the crumbs. Spread 6 dough pieces into 6 thin
layers of dough, bake them until lightly golden in preheated to 356F
(180C)oven. The other layer bake until very well golden ( even brownish )
and make crumbs for the decoration of the top layer.

Cream: mix 1 cup of sugar and 0.5kg (500g) of sour cream until
well-blended and foaming.

Spread 1/6 of the cream on the first already baked and cooled down layer
of the dough, put the second already baked and cooled down layer of dough
on top, spread another 1/6 of the cream, put third already baked and
cooled down layer of the dough on top etc. Spread the last portion of the
cream on the very top layer and sprinkle with the crumbs made earlier.

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Passed along from gfron1

Rob comes through as usual. Did he know anything about the dulce de leche layers mentioned by James in the original post? I'm wondering if that was a little ad-lib on the part of the restaurant to give it their own twist or maybe upscale it a bit.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Hmmm. Well, thanks for tracking that down. This thread has captured my curiosity. So many new things to play around with.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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No mention of the DDL layers - I had that same thought about the restaurant using it as a twist as it appears most of the other recipes mentioned only talk about a sour cream layer too.

In this one I already linked there is dulce de leche

http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/russianrecipes/chocolate-honey-layer-cake/

I'll make it for Sunday, for my daughter BD's party and let you know.

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Thanks Kerry, that looks like a good recipe. I wonder why the baking soda is cooked out first?

Looking forward to hearing about your effort with the DDL filling, Franci. Keep us up to date with the results :)

My next attempt will come this weekend, I think I'll try the Russian one Kerry posted. Just have to find a decent cup-metric converter...

By the way, can anyone tell me whether margarine has the same water content as butter? I hate baking with the stuff, so I'd like to be able to swap it out without adding or removing too much water.

Thanks,

James

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I think adding the soda to the honey is like adding it to the molasses in gingerbread - works with the acidity.

I'd sub butter directly for margarine. Do you use a scale? I'd use 140 grams per cup of flour so 455 grams of flour and 500 grams of sour cream.

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Thanks a lot for that, Kerry. I hate cup conversions, and tend to avoid most US-based recipes because of that.

Electronic gram scales all the way for me :)

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Rob's latest input -

So I made my uncle's friend's recipe today and noted all of my changes:

63 g Honey – the bolder the flavor the better

6.5 g Baking soda

200 g Butter flavored Crisco (haven’t tried butter yet*)

260 g Sugar

2 Eggs

530 g AP Flour

In sauce pan, warm the honey and soda. Once dissolved add the Crisco and warm til fully melted. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Transfer to the bowl of a mixer and when at room temp add eggs one at a time paddling just until incorporated. Add the flour gradually and paddle just until homogenous.

Divide dough into seven equal portions of 160 g each, cover with saran.

On silpat or parchment, rollout each dough to desired shape (it doesn’t have to be perfect because the cake will expand as it bakes. I did three rectangles of 4”x10” on each baking sheet. Cover the dough with a second Silpat or parchment and set a second baking sheet on top to weigh them down – this will give you uniform flat cake layers. Bake at 350º for about 10 minutes until lightly browned. When all six layers are baked and cooled to room temp, bake the final dough darker than the first about 18 minutes. Pulse that into decorative crumb.

260 g Superfine sugar

500 g Sour cream

Combine both in mixer and whisk on high until soft peaks. Spread 125 g of cream mixture on each layer and top with next layer of dough, repeating until stacked finished with the cream. Sprinkle the decorative crumbs on the top layer. Rest all in fridge overnight to allow soaking.

*My concern with butter is that margarine or Crisco will leave the cake softer than butter, and I’m not yet sure how much soaking from the filling will effect the dough.

**My variations – a splash of vodka in the cream; fresh blueberries

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I made the recipe I linked. I like the dough. It was easier to roll the dough warm, so I divided my dough in ten pieces, 90 g each. Before rolling I warmed up each single piece covered in microwave for 30 seconds, power 3.

For me was also easier to cut right outside the oven.

Will make the cream tomorrow and assemble on Saturday to eat Sunday. I already made my dulce de leche in PC.

image.jpg

image.jpg

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I made the recipe I linked. I like the dough. It was easier to roll the dough warm, so I divided my dough in ten pieces, 90 g each. Before rolling I warmed up each single piece covered in microwave for 30 seconds, power 3.

For me was also easier to cut right outside the oven.

Will make the cream tomorrow and assemble on Saturday to eat Sunday. I already made my dulce de leche in PC.

Those layers look great! Compared to your ten layers, the cake from Café Pouchkine seems almost lazy, lol.

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So, attempt n°2.

Finished 2.0.jpg Cut 2.0.jpg

I used gfron1's recipe for the biscuit (halved, for a 14cm biscuit), made a chantilly (250g double cream, 100g crème fraîche, 35g honey, 1 vanilla bean and 3g gelatin) and used confiture de lait (dulce de leche) straight from the jar.

The layers cooked well, with a baking sheet on top they stayed flat, but there was even less honey flavor than before, even using stronger miel de sapin. I got 7 layers of biscuit in the 4.5cm high cake, I think any more would be pushing it. Maybe I could get 8.

The layers were biscuit - ddl - biscuit - chantilly - biscuit etc. You can hardly see the chantilly layers, the biscuit absorbed it all :(

The texture was fairly dense and fudgy, not really what I was after. It needed the cream within the layers to keep it moist, I think, and when absorbed it was a little too dry.

I subbed out a lot of the crème fraîche for double cream to try and eliminate the mushroom aftertaste, but it lost almost all the acidity. I'll work on that... And the ddl could have done with a pinch of fleur de sel to balance the sweetness. Overall, the cake was too sweet.

The biscuit near the edge is much softer, moister and more pleasant than in the center in this one as well. What I'll try with the next one is making a soaking syrup from honey and milk. Has anyone made a soaking syrup with dairy before? I figure this might help with the texture and help retain the integrity of the layers.

I'm happy with the presentation though. For the final one, I'll probably make a honey tuile, but for now I love the brown velvet effect.

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Well done!

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Looks good and it sounds like your closing in on the texture and flavor you want.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I'm also here to report back. Like jmacnaughtan, although his looks so much better (!), I found my cake very dense and almost all my cream disappeared. Also, it was assembled 2 days ago and served yesterday. I didn't like it at all. I recognized I made some mistakes, I used a pastry cream (with 500 ml milk and 3 egg yolks) cut with 250 ml whipped cream. I whipped the cream too much and overall the filling was too stiff. Needed definitely something runnier. Although today the taste really improved A LOT. Didn't notice a different texture on the edge of the biscuit and in the centre, it was soft the same.

166fxqp.jpg

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Looks good to me. Since the disappearing cream thing seems to be a common problem, a syrup soak might be the way to go.


I'm wondering if something honey based to replace the dulce de leche might be worth investigating at some point just to see what a boost to the honey flavor does for the end result. A honey caramel or a honey cream or something similar.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Looks good, Franci. I like how you've got the layers very fine, it works well.

Try2cook, I was thinking the same thing. You could probably make a honey dulce de leche using unsweetened evaporated milk and honey, combined in a jar and cooked as normal. I'm not sure I'm willing to go that far though, I have nightmare visions of trying to scrape scalding honey-scented goop of the walls, ceiling and my skin.

I'll give it another try this weekend, using a syrup.

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Looks good to me. Since the disappearing cream thing seems to be a common problem, a syrup soak might be the way to go.

I'm wondering if something honey based to replace the dulce de leche might be worth investigating at some point just to see what a boost to the honey flavor does for the end result. A honey caramel or a honey cream or something similar.

Or a honey syrup for the soak!

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Fascinating thread, even for those of us with no plans to try making this cake.

jmacnaughtan, I wonder what kind of cake your clients are expecting. It seems that there are so many variations of this cake, as well as issues about wet biscuits, too dense texture, insufficient honey flavor, etc. I don't have a fix on what the traditional cake is supposed to be like. Will "improvements" in accord with our Western tastes actually be welcome to your clients? Or are they expecting a traditional cake like babushka used to make? Just wondering.

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Fascinating thread, even for those of us with no plans to try making this cake.

jmacnaughtan, I wonder what kind of cake your clients are expecting. It seems that there are so many variations of this cake, as well as issues about wet biscuits, too dense texture, insufficient honey flavor, etc. I don't have a fix on what the traditional cake is supposed to be like. Will "improvements" in accord with our Western tastes actually be welcome to your clients? Or are they expecting a traditional cake like babushka used to make? Just wondering.

Good point. The people I'm making it for are generally not Russians, so I don't think tradition is much of an issue. And anyway, my benchmark is the Café Pouchkine version, created by a French pastry chef in Moscow. I've never tried an "authentic" home-made Medovik, but I figure that if I can get it to a point where I'm happy with it, other people will be happy with it too. Even if it's not what babushka makes.

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Third attempt, getting a little closer to what I wanted.

Finished 3.0.jpg

Cut 3.0.jpg

This time:

  • The layers were rolled much thinner. It turns out that it's pretty much impossible to roll them too thin between two layers of baking paper. I could see daylight through them. I ended up using eleven layers of biscuit in a 4.5cm high cake.
  • The layers were soaked with a honey syrup. This meant (at last) that the cake actually had some honey flavour and was moist. Unfortunately, it also made sure that the cake was overly sweet, the cut was sloppy, and you could still see almost no white cream layers. My thoughts are to use fewer layers, maybe 8, with a thicker layer of cream, and add either some alcohol (vodka, to stay with the Russian theme) or acid to the syrup to balance it out (It was 110g honey-100g water).
  • The cream was 250g crème fraîche, 100g double cream, 25g honey, 3g gelatin and a vanilla pod. It was too sweet- I'm thinking of using entirely crème fraîche next time, and cutting the honey by at least half
  • The ddl was seasoned with a little salt. It was still overly sweet- I'll probably incorporate some butter and up the salt a little to balance it out.

Any input is welcome- especially on coating the cake with the crumb. It's a pain and takes a long time. Maybe brushing with neutral glaze then just rolling it in it would work?

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Any input is welcome- especially on coating the cake with the crumb. It's a pain and takes a long time. Maybe brushing with neutral glaze then just rolling it in it would work?

I cannot help with your question, but as soon as I saw the first pic, I wanted to comment on how even and beautiful that golden crumb coating looks. My two pence: you have put a lot of effort in perfecting this cake, wouldn't it be a shame to skimp on this final step? :)

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