Russian Honey Cake

After watching the Chef’s Table episode on Vladimir Mukhin on Netflix one Sunday, I was fascinated by his stories of lost cuisine of Russia and his mission to breathe life back into this cuisine. And this cake… I had to try!

After searching far and wide for a recipe, I fell for the following one from Smitten Kitten. Please go see her site, the finish is more perfected than my attempt, and you can see the elaborate history that helped me choose to feature her recipe.


  • Servings: About 10 reasonable slices
  • Time: About 3 hours over two days.

INGREDIENTS

Cake

  • 190 grams honey
  • 80 grams sugar
  • 115 grams unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 large eggs
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 455 grams all-purpose flour

Filling

  • 900 grams sour cream
  • 400 grams sweetened condensed milk

Method

Heat oven to 350 degrees F, get at least 2 baking sheets ready, and tear off 6 sheets of parchment paper large enough for a 9″ circle.

For the Cake:

Over medium heat, in a medium-sized saucepan, combine the sugar, honey and butter and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, until it gets a little darker and starts smelling wonderful.

Once ready, whisk in the baking soda, remove from heat, and set aside for 2 to 3 minutes. It’s not going to cool off, but it needs to settle a bit.

Lightly beat your eggs in a small bowl, or preferably a jug for easy pouring.

Now, take a deep breath, it’s going to get a little sporty.

Whisking the honey mixture vigorously, drizzle a thin stream (think: 1/2 teaspoon at a time) of the beaten eggs into the honey mixture. You’ll need to continue until all the eggs are thoroughly whisked in, do not stop until it is finished.

Now, stir in the salt and vanilla, and spoon in 3 cups (390 grams) of the flour. The dough is should be quite thick like a bread by this point.

Stir in the last 1/2 cup of flour 1/4 cup at a time; you’ll get a great arm workout.

Shape and bake the cakes:

Lightly flour your counter and divide the still-warm dough into 8 even pieces. Roll one between two sheets of baking paper until it’s a little larger than 9″ round, and remove top sheet of parchment paper, and trim the to an even 9″ circle. Save the trimmings — put them aside on one of the sheets of baking paper, it’s fine if they overlap a little. Prick the circle all over with a fork, and slide it onto a baking sheet and bake for 6 to 7 minutes; it should feel quite firm and be slightly darker around the edges. Once ready place it on a cooling rack.

While the first layer is in the oven, roll out your second piece so it’s ready to go into the oven as soon as the first comes out, this is quite intensive and it was all I could do to have the next one ready by the time the previous one was cooked. Keep adding the trimmings onto the sheet of baking paper. Repeat this process until all 8 layers are baked.

Feel free to reuse the baking paper for more than one layer.

Finally, take that last sheet of baking paper with all the biscuit scraps on it and bake it, checking in at 4 minutes, because the thinnest scraps will want to burn quickly. By 5 minutes, all should be baked until golden. Leave these to cool completely and save until you’re ready to decorate the cake tomorrow.

Fill and frost the cake:

In a large bowl, whisk sour cream and condensed milk together.

Once biscuits are cool, place a dab of the sour cream mixture on a cake plate and put the first layer on it.

Cut your used pieces of parchment paper into strips and tuck them all around the underside of the cake to protect your cake plate. Trust me, if you do not do this, things might get a little messy.

Add 3/4 of a cup of your cream onto the centre of your biscuit layer. Spread it out from the centre, leaving about 1- to 2-inch margin of unfrosted buscuit. Stack the second biscuit on top and repeat until you have 8 layers.

This might get a little messy, and it’s also going to want to slide around and not stay neatly stacked until the filling starts to thicken as it gets absorbed into the cake. Let it chill overnight, you might want to come back once or twice to be sure it’s still straight.

Finish the cake:

Grind your baked, reserved biscuit scraps and blend or bash them into crumbs, and using a small spoon to sprinkle, cover the top and sides of the cake with the crumbs and you’re finished.

You can enjoy the cake right away, or keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days.

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