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Medovnik – Honey Cake

Medovnik Cake

You have not lived until you have tasted Medovnik cake.  The most popular cake in Prague, it is well known in countres like Russia, the Ukraine and Croatia, but is virtually unknown in North America. It’s not dry, but it’s not really moist either. Some have said it’s like eating golden sunshine.

Medovnik is a 10 layer honey cake flavored with cinnamon that has a sweet, unique taste to it, quite unlike anything you will have eaten before. It is not that hard to make, and is a fantastic, unique dessert to make for a special occasion that will have your guests raving about it for days.

The cake recipe below is from Pauline’s handwritten recipe in the cookbook, and the cream filling is from a cookbook that was in her collection from 1914 in Dolny Kubin, Slovakia.  I have also seen the cake called Honey Cake, and Marzipan Cake.  I have modified the recipe slightly for use in today’s kitchen, but I do love the poetry of the original, and have included some of it in the recipe below.

Heat oven to 350 degrees, and grease cake pans (you will need to make 5 layers)

Cake ingredients:

  • 2 cups hot honey
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp lard
  • 4 egg yolks
  • Stiff meringue from 6 egg whites
  • 2 women’s handfuls of raisins (I skipped this)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • A little bit of cloves
  • 2 tbsp baking soda (seems like a lot)

Steps:

  1. Mix the hot honey together with the flour
  2. When cool, add in the lard, egg yolks, cloves, baking soda and cinnamon
  3. Fold in the beaten egg whites
  4. Pour into a pan the depth of 1 thick finger to the first knuckle (repeat 5 times)
  5. Bake each layer for a few minutes (around 3-5 min) – be careful not to over bake (you will find the cake somewhat dry)

In Pauline’s cookbook, the baking instructions are much more poetic:

Next to very gently flickering coals, bake for 1 hour.

Once the layers have been baked, follow these steps:

  1. Starting with a cake layer, prick it with a toothpick, then spread on some of the cream filling liberally
  2. Add another cake, prick, then more cream filling
  3. Repeat these steps until you have spread cream on the 4th layer  of cake
  4. For the fifth cake layer, crumble it in a food processor
  5. Spread the crumbs on top of the cream filling
  6. You can drizzle chocolate (melt chocolate with some butter, a little water together), honey or toasted and chopped walnuts on top
  7. Let the cake sit, covered in the fridge, for at least 6-8 hours so that the cream seeps into the cake

This cake doesn’t keep very well beyond a day, so make sure it is eaten up.

Cream Filling: (or just use a can of sweetened condensed milk)

  • 6 tbsp of superfine flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1  & 1/4 cups butter
  • 2 packets vanilla sugar  (1/4 cup)

Cream Steps:

  1. Mix flour with a little bit of milk
  2. Boil the rest of the milk
  3. Add flour mixture to hot milk, then cook until creamy consistency
  4. To hot cream add sugar and vanilla sugar (keep stirring for about 2 hours until the milk mixture is golden colored and thick)
  5. Whip butter to a “frenzy”
  6. Add cream mixture to the frothy butter, blend

There is one company that makes Medovnik cake for many of the bakeries and supermarkets in Prague, called Medovnik Cake Factory. They make over 20,000 cakes a MONTH! There is a closely related cake called Marlenka, but the filling and topping are different, and it is cut into squares.

You can hear about the Medovnik honey cake craze on Radio Prague, here. One of my favorite foodie bloggers, Monika, who is based in Croatia has written the Croatian version of the recipe, called Honey Pie, and here it is translated to English.  I hope you enjoy this fantastic cake as much as my family does.

Pauline's Medovni recipe
Original Medovnik Recipe
31 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2010 3:15 pm

    Thank you so much for this recipe, it’ll satisfy the craving until I next time I’m in Prague :)

  2. Con permalink
    February 20, 2010 5:29 am

    Hi and thanks a lot for sharing the recipe. I was wondering what measurement you mean by “l” since you use it for flour. Do you mean liters? Thanks again. I’ll soon try it.

    • February 20, 2010 10:40 am

      Yes, it seems to be liters for some reason. I’ll check the original again to make sure! Tonya

  3. Con permalink
    March 1, 2010 4:12 am

    Alright, will try it. cheers.

  4. April 28, 2010 11:00 pm

    Hi, just wondering if anything had been decided about the “Liters” measurement, since I’d like to make this cake sometime soon. :) Had it in St. Petersburg and fell in love.

    • April 29, 2010 10:13 am

      Hi there. I’s sorry, I had looked it up and tested it, and forgot to update the post. You can use 4 cups in place of 1L. I’m off to Prague in a few weeks, and can hardly wait to try it there!

      • April 29, 2010 10:37 am

        Thanks so much. I’ll give that a try!

        My family is Slovak in origin, too, and my grandmother’s parents and grandparents came over from the Prague area and settled in the Midwest in the late 1800s. I have so much enjoyed reading your stories and recipes, which are similar to many my grandmother has shared.

      • April 29, 2010 2:11 pm

        I am so glad you are enjoying reading this. I hope you will tell me how the cake turns out for you, and will one day share your stories too. Don’t forget to make sure you let the cake with filling sit in the fridge for several hours to let it all soak together.

  5. cakes! permalink
    September 4, 2010 7:51 am

    the two packets of vanilla sugar? does any one know the quantity of it? in oz or g’s? thx

  6. cakes! permalink
    September 4, 2010 4:00 pm

    hii!! thanks that does help! one more question .. um decagrams? in ounces or grams..
    … is 30 dg of butter is = to 300g ? is that right?
    and any tips about how this cake is made! im thinking of making it …! the filling sounds confusing!

    Thanks!!!

  7. September 4, 2010 5:07 pm

    I updated the recipe so that everything is in imperial measurements. I hope this helps. I also adjusted the amount of sugar in the cream filling, as less than 1/4 cup didn’t seem right.

  8. Melinda permalink
    February 15, 2011 4:40 pm

    Tonya–What a wonderful project.

    The EU delegation in Washington is putting together a giveaway cookbook representing recipes from some of the various nationalities of staff here. One Czech member suggested your recipe for Medovnik cake–she brought back a sample after her Christmas holidays in Prague. We wondered whether we could include your recipe (with reference to your website, of course). The book will not be sold.
    Many thanks.

    • February 15, 2011 4:50 pm

      Hi Melinda, thank you – it’s been a wonderful learning experience. I would be happy to have you use the recipe. I hope I can get a copy of the recipe book too! Tonya

      • Melinda permalink
        February 15, 2011 5:25 pm

        We will be happy to send you a hard copy–we expect to have it in hand in early May. At your convenience, you can send me your mailing address.

        Thanks so very much Tonya.

  9. Sue Zelenak permalink
    February 15, 2011 8:59 pm

    Oh thank you so much… slovak ladies here in Australia still make it and it’s the absolute best. To add a little to the favour you can put a layer of home made apricot jam before you put the cream on! Yum Yum YUM!

  10. Kris Cox permalink
    February 24, 2011 2:38 pm

    I am loving your website and reading all the recipes. Being from a family where my father’s parents came from Russia and my mother’s from Romania, this type of food is right up my alley!

    • February 24, 2011 3:44 pm

      Thank you, Kris. I see a lot of overlap in the Russian, Romanian and Slovak cuisine as I am researching the recipes for the blog. I hope you find something good to make, and please come back! Tonya

  11. Mike Brown permalink
    February 28, 2011 11:48 am

    Hi Tonya,

    Made the Medovnik for special company, last night.
    Wow, what a great cake, THANK YOU so much!

    If someone is making it for the first time, a few planning notes:

    1. I was working pretty fast but plan on taking a full-hour to an hour-and-a-half to make the batter, bake/prep the cake layers and apply the creme frosting.

    2. I used the raisins, called for in the recipe, which gave it a good texture and taste.

    3. Do you wait for the honey and flour mix to cool first, or can it be done warm before mixing it with the whipped butter? I blended the mixture warm, which was almost a pure butter reduction so I took a guess and chilled it, for about 10-15 minutes in the refrigerator, before applying the cream filling.

    4. I put a tsp of rum and Grand Marnier into the batter and chocolate drizzle.

    5. I put a thin layer of walnuts and chocolate drizzle between each of the cake layers and top.

    What a FANTASTIC treat, everyone had!
    Dobre Chut!

    Mike

    • February 28, 2011 12:42 pm

      Hi Mike, I am so glad to hear it all worked out! I forgot to mention it did take a while to make the cake layers. Did you make the creme yourself or use sweetened condensed milk? And did it soak in the fridge for several hours?

      So glad it worked out!

      Tonya

      • Mike Brown permalink
        March 2, 2011 1:18 pm

        I didn’t realize how long it was going to take to make and prep the cake batter until I was well into it so I had a few less hours to chill it in the ‘frig.

        YES, I used your condensed milk “solution” for the creme filling which was very easy AND criminally delicious.

        Is the creme filling suppose to be “stiff,” medium, thin, or runny? What kind of consistency should it be?

        Are the cake layers suppose to be light and fluffy or more firm-like?

        Once I blended the warm honey/flour/raisin mixture into the whipped butter, it thinned out considerably (almost a liquid state) so I put the filling back into the fridge, for about 20-30 minute, before I applied it to the cake layers.

        Had the last bit of the cake, two days later, and it’s almost like a semi-soft nougat which is wonderful! :)

        One way to help keep the cake a little more moist, MIGHT BE to either add some vanilla pudding, and/or vegetable oil, into mix? I’ve learned that baking is like calculus. What do you think?

        This is one FUN & GROOVY cake! :)

      • March 2, 2011 1:55 pm

        The creme filling is not as thick as icing; it’s runnier, and it should mostly seep into the cake. The cake should be dry as it’s not a high rising, fluffy cake. It has a very different consistency with the creme soaked in, and yet it has a slightly dry cakiness to it. It is really unique, and kind of hard to make right, actually.

  12. Sheri permalink
    July 8, 2012 9:14 pm

    We just had what I think is this cake in Prague at a wedding. I’m not so sure I want to tackle trying making it, but would love to order one. Any ideas on where I can get one sent from a bakery? We each had several pieces and thought it was out of this world! Thanks!

  13. Lana permalink
    July 13, 2012 3:23 am

    Can you tell me what foes on top of it?

    • Lana permalink
      July 13, 2012 3:24 am

      I mean “goes” , not “foes” ! :D :D :D

      • July 27, 2012 9:58 am

        Hi Lana,what goes on top is crumbs from one of the layers. You can take one of the slim layers of cake and grind it finely, and sprinkle the crumbs on top. Tonya

  14. Lana permalink
    July 27, 2012 1:45 pm

    Thanks soooo much, Tonya!

  15. kasey permalink
    September 17, 2013 6:14 am

    this didnt work for me at all hrmm :(

  16. just another czech chick permalink
    January 29, 2014 10:24 pm

    Sorry to tell you but in the czech version of Medovnik aka Honey cake are not supposed to be any raisins at all! And “pri velmi mirnom ohni” doesnt mean “Next to very gently flickering coals”.. that’s a literally translated (more like google translator) and is not correct, meaning is more simple: bake on a low temparature. Yes “pri ohni” does mean by fire but only if you translate it literally. It’s kind of same with english :)
    There is no egg in eggplant or ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple…

    Have a good one and try this recipe next time:

    http://www.czechinthekitchen.com/2012/03/31/honey-cake-medovnik/

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