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)
- 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)
- Mix the hot honey together with the flour
- When cool, add in the lard, egg yolks, cloves, baking soda and cinnamon
- Fold in the beaten egg whites
- Pour into a pan the depth of 1 thick finger to the first knuckle (repeat 5 times)
- 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:
- Starting with a cake layer, prick it with a toothpick, then spread on some of the cream filling liberally
- Add another cake, prick, then more cream filling
- Repeat these steps until you have spread cream on the 4th layer of cake
- For the fifth cake layer, crumble it in a food processor
- Spread the crumbs on top of the cream filling
- You can drizzle chocolate (melt chocolate with some butter, a little water together), honey or toasted and chopped walnuts on top
- 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)
- Mix flour with a little bit of milk
- Boil the rest of the milk
- Add flour mixture to hot milk, then cook until creamy consistency
- To hot cream add sugar and vanilla sugar (keep stirring for about 2 hours until the milk mixture is golden colored and thick)
- Whip butter to a “frenzy”
- 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.