Drumroll please….my first month of cooking from another country is RUSSIA!
Boyfriend is Russian, so I’m used to eating a lot of Russian food when we visit his family. And who knew, but I pretty much love all Russian food. The pickled stuff, the beets, the potatoes, the dumplings and most definitely the desserts. There’s a meat jelly situation I haven’t tried. Definitely skipping that one.
Boyfriend is asking his mom for a few recipes that I can hopefully share with you here throughout the month of January.
But for now, I introduce you to the best thing I’ve ever baked – the Russian Honey Cake.
Sure, I’m being dramatic but it’s deserved – I’m not even lying when I tell you, you will eat no dessert better than this. AND THERE’S NO CHOCOLATE IN IT. So you know I’m being serious.
There have been disagreements on the name of the cake – I’ve seen this called Medovik – but I’ve been told that’s incorrect by boyfriend’s mom and aunt. So I’m going simple and sticking with Russian Honey Cake.
Even boyfriend said it was his favorite cake. AND HE’S ACTUALLY RUSSIAN SO IMAGINE HOW GOOD THIS IS.
I’m kind of losing it just thinking about this cake. Am I crazy to make another?! Yes. But also no. I think the cream is my favorite part of this cake. It’s just so velvety and thick and smooth.
If you like dulce de leche, honey, and stroopwafels, this is your cake. If you like layers upon layers of sweet fluffy custardy cream, this is your cake. If you like impressing people with your baking skills, this is your cake. If you’ve got an afternoon to kill (seriously though), this is your cake.
I won’t fool you into thinking this is an “easy” cake. Actually, I take that back. It’s super easy – just takes a long time. There’s no real skill involved here, baking the layers just takes f.o.r.e.v.e.r. So get your Netflix account pulled up, or start a podcast series because you’ve got a few hours of cake making ahead of you.
But… in the end, you will be rewarded with the BEST CAKE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. So consider your long term gains here and enjoy a lazy afternoon of baking.
PS. Make sure to read through the recipe before starting this cake so you know how much time you need to prep. For example, you’ll need to buy or make dulce de leche (4 hours) and let the cake sit overnight (HAHA yea right but like at least 4 hours).
I adapted this recipe from CleoButtera. Click on that link if you want pretty step-by-step pictures.
Russian Honey Cake
(Start making 7 hours before you want Russian Honey Cake)
3/4 cup dark honey
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup burnt honey
3/4 cup dark honey
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
14 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into smallish chunks
6 large eggs
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp fine salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
The cream frosting
1/2 cup burnt honey
1 14oz can of dulce de leche* (learn to make your own here. tip: make more than one!)
1/2 tsp fine salt
4 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
*If you are making your own dulce de leche, give yourself 3-4 hours for this. The longer it cooks, the deeper the flavor. I did about 3.5 hours and wish I went to 4. Make sure the water is always cover the cans otherwise you’ll be cleaning dulce de leche off your ceiling
You’ll start by prepping your pans for the cake layers. I used cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper. Trace a 9 inch circle on one of the pieces of paper so you know the size you’re going for. I did these one at a time (took forever) but if you’re more organized than I am, you could probably fit two in the oven at a time. Turn your oven on to 375F.
Make your burnt honey by placing 3/4 cup of honey in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a simmer, then reduce to medium heat. You want the color to turn to dark amber, about 3 minutes. My honey was already really dark so I went by smell (it gets intensely honeyish in the room!). Turn off heat and add 1/4 cup water, stirring carefully once it stops bubbling. Set aside.
Now, we make the cake layers. You’ll create a double broiler situation on the stove by heating a saucepan with a couple inches of water. With a heatproof bowl, combine 1/4 cup burnt honey, 3/4 cup honey, sugar and butter and place it over the pot of water. the simmering water should not touch the bottom of your heat proof bowl.
Crack your eggs into a small bowl, stir, and set aside. In a separate bowl, stir together baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Pretend you’re on food network by having small bowls of pre-measured ingredients everywhere.
Stir the mixture on the stove while you’re doing all this. You want the butter to be completely melted. When the mixture is warm (to the touch), add your eggs and whisk to combine. Then add cinnamon mixture and continue whisking for about 30 seconds. It will foam and smell weird (I have no idea why?!). Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit.
Then, sift your flour (I don’t always do this, but highly recommend it here!) over the batter. Whisk to incorporate the flour along the way, until the batter is very smooth. I found it helpful to keep the batter kind of warm while I was working since it spreads much easier that way. Just place it near your stove.
Take your pan with your 9-inch circle drawn on parchment and spoon 1/3 cup of batter onto the circle. You may need a little more, but do your best to spread it into an even circle. You’ll bake for about 6-7 minutes until the center springs back when you touch it and it’s a brown color. Most importantly – don’t overbake!
At this point, I hope you have your fave podcast on because you will do this until you have 11 layers.
You’ll trim the edges so they are all exactly 9 inches or at least matching each other. Save the trimmings and any extra layers (I had quite a bit left over) and bake for 15 minutes at 250F so they get crunchy. Smash these or blend them until they look like cookie crumbs. Set this aside for when it comes time to design the cake.
Now, the best part – the frosting. Whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup burnt honey, dulce de leche and 1/2 tsp fine salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in 3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream until well combined. Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes. While that’s happening, grab a large bowl and whisk the remaining 4 cups of heavy cream in a bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer. You could do this by hand but it would take you 100 years. You’re looking for soft peaks. Then add honey mixture and whip into medium peaks. Your bowl will be filled to the brim with the honey cream frosting you are likely to become addicted to.
Finally, we assemble. Grab your serving platter and place a giant spoonful of cream into the center. This is your glue for the cake to not slip around. Then add your first layer. Then add a lot more cream than you think you need on top. You’ll repeat the process over and over until you’re out of layers. Some important notes: add more cream than you think the cake can handle. The cream will soak into the layers in the fridge. Don’t be afraid if this looks like a hot mess because IT WILL LOOK LIKE A HOT MESS.
I found it helpful to place the layers in the fridge for a little so the cake firms up before you frost the outside. You’ll cover the outside of the cake with the remaining cream (though I had a lot left over…until I ate it all by spooning it into my face). Then, add your crumbs to the outside of the cake. You can do a pretty design if you want but my god this cake has taken all day just get the thing in the fridge so it can go in your mouth sooner! Also, I like completely covering the cake because it kind of seals it all together.
The original says to leave it overnight in the fridge and sure if you’re a more restrained person than myself you could do that. I left it for 6 hours and it was PERFECTION. Literal perfection. So do you and get ready to enjoy the best cake of your life.