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It’s Sunday and Valentine’s Day is long gone, but the leftover cake is still in my fridge and tastes better than ever. I love Valentine’s Day so much and I could care less that it’s been commercialised and turned into a sappy holiday with poorly written cards and tasteless teddies all over the place. I love the day that could be unashamedly ALL about my love for the most amazing man I know. We usually don’t go out on Valentine’s day, we made this pact on a V Day many years ago when we were still students living in Minneapolis and unable to get into any restaurants because of the reservations and waiting and pre-set menus…all the stuff that makes the day uncool. After being turned down by so many restaurants we wound up at the Olive Garden close to 10 pm too tired to enjoy the food, we agreed to never go out on the Valentine’s Day but stay in and still make the day completely out of the ordinary.
This year I decided to re-create our 10th anniversary celebration in France. Everything on the menu was a replica of our dinner in a tiny restaurant in Paris tucked away from the tourist area. We sat outside for hours while the rain kept pounding on the roof of the awning, there was not one person speaking English in view, the food was exquisite, the night was decidedly perfect.
How does my Russian cake fit into this? It doesn’t really but it’s an incredibly tasty treat that I never made for Brad, so there was my chance to rectify the situation.
I am starting with the dessert but there will be more posts, so come back if you like to know what kind of food you get served in France!
Back to the Honey Cake. The Russian name for it is “Medovik” and the first time I made it I was 13 or 14 when this cake was the “it cake” in Russia. The recipe was being passed on from one household to another. It was impossible to have any sort of celebration without Medovik crowning the meal. It was so common that after a while it didn’t seem special anymore. I am glad I re-discovered this treasure because despite it’s simplicity of ingredients and the method of preparation the end result is far from plain.
8 layers of honey goodness with creamy filling in between and adorned with caramel flames, this cake was a perfect finish to our romantic dinner for Valentine’s Day! Caramel flames is not the traditional decor for this cake but I wanted to add a little pizzazz to the special occasion cake and also try my hand at making caramel. It turned out to be such a fun process, needless to say I was very pleased with the result.
Ingredients for cake:
- Butter- 5 tbsp./70 gr
- Sugar 1 cup
- Honey- 2 tbsp. ( I prefer dark honey as it has richer taste. I used chestnut honey for my cake)
- Eggs-3 large
- Vanilla- 2 tsp.
- Baking soda- 1tsp.
- Vodka (although optional you wouldn’t believe me the cake was Russian if it didn’t call for vodka ;-))- 2 tbsp.
- Salt-1/2 tsp.
- Flour- 3 cups
Ingredients for the filling:
- Creme fraiche- 2 cups
- Whipping Cream/Double Cream- 2 cups
- Sugar- 1/2 cup
- Vanilla bean (seeds scraped out) or vanilla essence-1
Ingredients for the frosting:
- Mascarpone cheese (cold)-1 cup/250 gr
- Whipping cream/Double Cream-1/2 cup
- Icing Sugar- 1 cup
- Vanilla Bean or essence
Ingredients for the Caramel Flames:
- Sugar ( I used half brown and half white)-1 cup
- Lemon Juice- 1/2 tsp.
Method for the cake:
This cake preparation method is quite different from what you might be used to but don’t let it deter you from giving it a go because the result is stunning and you will be able to brag about making this authentic Russian cake to all your friends.
Preheat your oven to 400F/200C and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
Set your double boiler or a large pot filled 2/3 with water and a glass or metal bowl over it on the medium heat. Melt butter, sugar and honey in the bowl. In a separate bowl beat eggs and vanilla and pour the mixture in the double boiler while mixing the whole time (I use electric mixer) to avoid ending up with scrambled egg! Then add vodka, baking soda, salt and 2 cups of flour, continue mixing for a few minutes until the dough starts to thicken and come away from the edges of the bowl. Take it off the heat and add the last cup of flour, mix well. Be careful as the dough will be hot. Allow it to cool for a couple of minutes and then knead it with your hands until your get smooth, pasta like dough. What you are looking for is a cookie dough rather than a cake batter.
Divide into 8 equal parts and cover with a kitchen towel to avoid drying out. The cake layers will be baked separately on baking trays and then cut into neat circles using a 7″ cake pan, tart pan or, in my case, a pan lid as a template.
Dust your work surface with flour and roll out a thin circle slightly larger than 7″, transfer on a parchment lined baking tray and bake for 4-5 min. Watch closely as the cake layers burn quickly. Roll out the next layer while the previous one is baking. That is why you need to have 2 baking trays on the go. Remove from the over when golden brown and cut out a circle while still hot as the layers will turn into crisp biscuits in a couple of minutes. (Traditionally the scraps from the cake are turned into crumbs and pressed into cake sides and the top for the decoration. However, I decided to go the different route and use a stunning caramel piece for the top of my cake.) Cool on the cooling rack. Repeat the process until all 8 layers are done.
Beat creme fraiche (can be substituted with sour cream) with whipping cream, sugar and vanilla until sugar is dissolved and it’s doubled in volume. Fill all 8 cake layers except for the top and the sides.
Once again I’ve changed the frosting as in the original cake the above filling is used for the outside of the cake as well and later reinforced with the cake crumbs. Since I decided to go crumb free and wanted my cake to look a dinner date worthy, I’ve used a mascarpone frosting similar to the one I’ve used for Meringue Mascarpone Cake.
Beat cold mascarpone with icing sugar, vanilla and whip cream until stiff. Decorate the sides and the top of the cake with mascarpone frosting.
It needs to be noted that the cake is best served 24 hours after it’s made which is perfect when you are making a big meal as your dessert is already taken care of! A full day in the fridge allows all of those crisp layers to soften and soak all the wonderful flavours from the filling and the frosting.
Mix sugar with lemon juice in a saucepan, set the saucepan on medium heat and don’t stir until the edges start to bubble up, then start stirring until all the crystals melted, sugar looks clear and deep amber colour. Take it off the heat and put the bottom of the pan in ice cold water to stop it from cooking immediately but don’t keep it there for too long or the caramel will harden before you have a chance to work with it.
Drizzle caramel with a spoon on parchment paper that was previously sprayed with an oil spray, let it set. Then break up the hardened caramel and decorate your cake in any way you like.
Caramel flames are best to be set on the top of the cake right before serving. You can have them made beforehand and pop them on top as you get ready to serve dessert.