Honey Cake (Medovik) – Step by Step

In my recent interview to Women’s Forum I mentioned that I didn’t cook much back in Azerbaijan, but that I baked a few cakes. Well, honey cake, known as medovik or medoviy tort in Russian, and balli tort in Azeri, originally Russian but equally famous across the ex-soviet republics, is one of those cake. My sister and I, or sometimes just me or her, would laboriously bake it every time we had guests over (the golden diamonds to the right of the picture are pieces of honey cake, baked by me or by me and my sister, and served with tea for the staff we invited over to dinner many years ago).

In honey cake, thin biscuit layers baked to perfect gold are slathered with luscious cream made of caramelized condensed milk and butter. The caramelization is obtained by boiling a can of condensed milk for 2 hours. The resulting thick caramel tastes so good that I sometimes end up eating half a can before the poor thing has a chance to pair with butter.

Honey cake it not that difficult to put together. The waiting time to indulge in it, however, is a bit of a teaser, but honest to say, a teaser absolutely worth while putting up with. Try it and you’ll known what I mean.

Also, check out my friend Marija’s version of medovik. Marija uses sour cream based cream in between the layers. I have never tried medovik with sour cream but the idea sounds intriguing enough to make me head over to the kitchen next time I crave this delectable cake.

HONEY CAKE (MEDOVIK)
recipe adapted from my very old recipe collection (original source unknown)

STEP 1 – Prepare the cream.

Note: You can prepare the cream up to a week in advance and keep it in the refrigerator.

For the Cream:
2 cans condensed milk (you will use  1     1/2 cans)
10 oz (300 g) unsalted butter, cut into large chunks

Put the cans of condensed milk in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover the cans completely. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat for 2 hours, adding more hot water to cover the cans as necessary. Remove from the heat. Let the cans sit in the water for about 5 minutes, then drain the water and set the cans aside. DO NOT OPEN THE CAN AT THIS POINT, or they will explode and their contents will end up all over you. Allow the cans to cool to room temperature, then open them with a can opener.

Put the butter in a  mixing bowl. With a mixer,  beat until the butter is fluffy, about 5 minutes. Continue to beat, gradually adding 1  1/2  can condensed milk and beat until you obtain a smooth cream. Do not overbeat or the cream will curdle. Place the cream in the refrigerator while you prepare the dough.

STEP 2 – Make the dough

For the Dough:
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons honey
3.5 oz (100 g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon baking soda
3-3.5 cups all-purpose flour

You will need a double boiler to prepare the dough. If you don’t have one, use two regular saucepans or a saucepan and a heat-proof mixing bowl as I usually do and as described in the recipe.

Put the eggs and sugar in a heat-proof mixing bowl (or the top of a double boiler). Stir to mix. Add the honey and butter.

Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Place the mixing bowl on the saucepan. Remember – the bowl should not touch the water in the pan, so adjust the amount of water accordingly. Maintaining a gentle boil, cook the mixture, stirring constantly with a spoon or a balloon whisk, until the ingredients are well blended and the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes.

Add the baking soda, and cook, stirring constantly, for another half a minute. The mixture will somewhat whiten and increase in bulk.  Remove the bowl from the heat. Gradually add 3 cups of the flour to the mixture, mixing with a spoon with each addition, until you obtain a dough that is somewhat sticky and has consistency of play dough. Do not be tempted to add more flour as the dough will harden as it cools off. If it is still too sticky, add the rest of the flour. Otherwise leave it at 3 cups. Divide the dough into 5 parts and shape each part into a ball.

STEP 3 – Bake the biscuits

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Generously butter a large baking sheet.

Now, take one dough  ball and put it in the middle of your buttered baking sheet. With your fingers, press onto the dough and flatten it into a thin 11-inch (28 cm) circle. If the dough sticks to your hands, dip your fingers in flour before pressing onto the dough. The flattened dough may appear somewhat transparent in some places – it is OK. But take care not to tear it and patch with a piece of dough if you do. NOTE: You can shape your cake as a rectangle or square, if you want to.

Since you will need some crumbs for the top and the sides of the cake, you do not have to worry about the irregularities around the edges of the circle – you will cut them off to obtain a perfect circle after the biscuit  has been baked and you will use the trim-offs to make crumbs.

Or, instead of cutting off the edges of a baked biscuit, you can use my hassle-free “beforehand trim-off” technique (see pictures below) – once you’ve flattened the dough, put a 10-inch (25 cm) flat plate on top of it and using a sharp knife, trim off excess dough around the plate. Do  not remove the trim-offs from the baking sheet. Let them sit there. Once the biscuit is baked, you can easily peel them off.

Bake each biscuit layer on the middle rack of the oven for 4-5 minutes, until it is light golden on top. The dough will slightly puff up, but don’t  expect it to rise as a sponge cake. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven, gently run a spatula underneath the biscuit to loosen it, then remove from the baking sheet.

STEP  4 – Assemble the cake

Spread a generous amount of cream onto one biscuit, then top with another. Continue in this manner – stacking the layers on top of one another and spreading some cream in-between. Slather some cream on top and around the cake as well.

Finely grind the baked trim-offs. Sprinkle the crumbs generously on top of the cake and lightly press some around it. If you do not have enough crumbs, grind some walnuts and mix with the crumbs. At this point, the cake will be hard. Leave the cake aside to soften at room temperature for 6 hours or overnight. The biscuits will have absorbed the cream and the cake will be soft and ready to melt in your mouth.

STEP  5 – Enjoy the cake!

Your Comment

75 Comments
  1. That’s an original cake! It looks delightful!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. Farida, the cake is gorgeous and it would impress guests very much. Congrats on your interview as well!

  3. Hi Farida! I make this all the time. Also with either with this cream or the sour cream mixture. Your pics are beautiful.

  4. My mother used to cook the condensed milk that way, I absolutely love it. The cake looks awesome, must be delicious.

  5. Beautiful and delicious and original. I love it!

  6. I follow your blog regularly what i like most is the authenticity of your recipes. this one looks awesome and thats a very new thing to me. a must try.

  7. wow, this is something totally brand new to many of us..love step by step presentation..and love the cake..yum yum..

  8. Very original indeed, this is a keeper!

  9. Can’t wait to try this one…the Zebra Cake is always a big hit with our friends..I know the Honey Cake will really be a hit…thanks for the recipes ,,,keep them coming…Jim Stewart, Decatur Illinois

  10. Wow! the cake looks so moist and delicious!

  11. Farida, I used to LOVE this cake. Never tried to bake it myself, though. I’ve completely forgotten that it ever existed :) Thank you for reminding :)

  12. That looks just delicious Farida!! Wish I could have a slice with my morning coffee!

  13. WOW, what a funny coincidence! I’ve had the recipe for Medovnik in pictures for a few weeks now, and was planning on posting it sometime next week. Interesting parallel! =) This is one of my all time favourite desserts & Your cake looks absolutely delicious, Nice and moist and exactly like you said, looks like it will just melt in your mouth…

  14. Your zebra cake (I discovered your blog with that post) is famous here and I think I hsould try this one too. Looks gorgeous.
    I know how cooked condensed milk tatses. Yum!

  15. wholly impressive and completely delicious. the end.

  16. Thank you for the honey cake. I remember doing it before when I was in Baku. Its one of my favorite cakes. I should try your this recipe. If say true I always was scary to boil condensed milk. So I made it without boiling. I should try your way.
    Also, I liked your interview on the women forum.
    Good luck on all your goals!
    t.

  17. What a lovely cake and it’s wonderful to learn something totally brand new.

  18. hey farida , salaam..this looks absolutely divine!!! have always see n this cake in our supermarkets in the pastry aisle , but never knew this is what was inside !!! just a doubt before i start making though. is it super sweet??? cause i have tried the boiled condensed milk , and though it was great i found it aa tad too sweet, so combined with the sweet dough…it is sweet isnt it? will the whole cake will too sweet?? or am i way off the mark =)

  19. Looks wow! and so original!but im gaining pounds just ogling at the pic!

  20. un très belle recette de gâteau qui est originale
    il parait savoureux
    bonne soirée

  21. Thank you for all your comments, friends.

    NINU: the cake is sweet but not super sweet. So, don’t worry:)

  22. Cooked condensed milk sounds very similar to Dulche De Luche na? Very innovative cake! Thanks for sharing your wonderful creation with us!

  23. Feride..this look incredible…Fab..fab…fabolous..I AMMM Sooo Making this! Hmmm hmmm hmm…Health to your hands.

    The kids must love this no?

  24. My favourite…..:)))))

  25. I am so glad that you posted this recipe! This is one of my favorite cakes in the world, but it’s so hard to find! Now I can make my own–I’m sure my parents would love to be invited for tea and some medovik :)

  26. Fantastic cake ,Farida :D

  27. Yet another amazing recipe from you – loved it! Will keep following it!

  28. Suyum axdi lap :))

  29. This sounds like absolute heaven on a plate! Wow. Do you mail order? ;)

  30. Farida
    This cake shows how in our part of the world there is no such thing as “putting it together in a jiffy” type of pastry and everything one makes is laborious but ends up so delightful it is definitely reason to keep doing it this way. Bravo for a great effort.

  31. This cake sounds and looks amazing! Thanks for sharing Feride.

  32. You have a lovely tempting space here. Some amazing recipes, making me drool over and over my monitor screen! They look so live and real. My stomach howls even after it’s full!

  33. Hi Farida,

    Thanks for posting another lovely Russian recipe.
    I love this cake. I have never made it myself as my hubby prefers chocolate cakes, but this cake is a must try and absolutely delicious and so tender and moist.
    This summer I went to St Petersburg where I eat a piece of this wonderful cake in one café-bakery store.
    I still keep many sweet memories about this cake which was melting in the mouth.

  34. Farida, this honey cake looks so yummie, love the layers…I had this cake long time ago, one of my Russian friend’s mom made it and until now I still remember the taste of it…marvelous!

  35. Dear Farida,

    I have just baked and assembled the cake. Now I am waiting impatiently for the time, when I can taste it at last. Thanks again for sharing your recipes with us.

    I would like to share a tip, which makes rolling sticky kind of dough easier. I put each dough ball between two sheets of baking paper and rolled it out with a rolling pin. Then peeled the top paper and baked it on the bottom one. This way the dough is even all over. I used this tip when I needed to roll out marzipan to cover Italian cake “Cassata’.

    Regards,
    Galatea.

  36. We are an organisation looking every year for new cookbooks and winebooks , to participate to our awards. The participation is free of charge and a wonderfull promotion for the Author and Editor.
    For 2010, we are looking also for cookbooks and winebooks from Azerbaijan. We would very much like you to participate.If anybody knows about new (2010) cookbooks and winebooks from your country, please pass the message. You can have more informations on http://www.cookbookfair.com

    thierry

  37. Feride, this cake sounds unique with its layers. And I love how you explained its steps. Grinding the bakes trim-offs is a great idea to use all small pieces of the dough without wasting.

  38. We make a similar cake in Hungary but with crepes instead of pastry for the levels. ingenius to use condensed milk (dulce leche)for the cream as well!
    love your blog Farida as always!

  39. This is amazing Farida! A friend mentioned exactly this version is the original Medovik recipe. Thank you so much for sharing!

  40. Hi Farida , Thank you so much for sharing! What a lovely cake

  41. Incredibly tasty recipe. I baked this a couple of weeks ago and the result was very favorable. I was wondering if you have done any experimentation with the cream? Perhaps a fruit infusion, very thin slices of fresh fruit, or blending fruit into the cream? Strawberries, Raspberries, Apples, Coconut? At any rate, excellent recipe.. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

  42. JAIME: Thanks for the comment. I haven’t done any experimentations with the cream, as I think the caramelized condensed milk is the gist of this cake and adding anything else to it could take away from the authentic taste.

  43. Thank You.Good Blog

  44. Thank you very nice article :)

  45. this is amaizing

  46. this is amazing! so wonderful! waaa ooh!!!!

  47. this just perfect original honey cake recipe. I used to a long time ago in MONGOLIA.Thank you remembered me.
    Thank you that was so clear.

  48. Hi Farida, beautiful looks cake. My Medovik is at the moment in oven ;). I have been looking everywhere recipe for “Man’s kiss” cake. In my city is small Armenian bakery and I must say medovnik and man’s kiss looks the same… :D. Hope taste will be also same…
    Your blog is very beautiful!

  49. thanks lots, it works, and its my first cake …,
    I am happy, somehow i missed old soviet tests and flavor..
    only for the cake I used light vegital baking “butter” from “SOLO”…
    les calories..

  50. Just tried my first slice of Medovik at Bassams’ in San Diego…so glad I found the perfect recipie…though I hope this will be a new holiday tradition at our favorite Atelier.

  51. woow thank you nice blog

  52. super thx admin nice article good blog

  53. I love this cake! I make mine very similar but I also use the sour cream frosting in between the layers.

    I just found your blog today. Thanks for the recipes!

  54. Hello

    Can you please tell me the size of the condensed milk cans? My local grocery store has 2 sizes!

    Thanks :)

  55. BALSAM – Small size. I believe it is 14 oz.

  56. I would just like to say that this was AWESOME!!! It was so yummy everyone loved it. The batter itself is yummy on its own – I kept the crumbs to myself :)

    I used the batter again as “cookie fingers” – shaped the batter into fingers and baked as per recipe. But I added ground cardamom to the bream mixture and made it into a dip. Once the fingers cooled I served it with the cream as a dip! Yummy goodness! :D

  57. Sorry – cream* not bream!!

  58. Hi Farida,

    I am from Egypt and in arabic your name means “unique”. We say “ism ala mosamma” i.e. perfect name befitting the named one. I really believe your name suits you and your beautiful blog. I will try this recipe and just enjoy it with my friends. To me, you are a new found treasure. :) Gehan

  59. Can I whip up the condensed milk without boiling it for 2 hours?

  60. SARA – Yes you can, but the taste will be different. I love the caramel flavor. It’s up to you though. Cheers!

  61. Did anyone try to freeze this cake? Because too much goodies are not good, I usually freeze the left overs at the end of the day I cut the cake. Most of the cakes with whipcream freeze very well. Never tried a honey cake yet. Any advice?

  62. Never mind the above question! You must be all busy cooking and baking! I froze part of it and it is just as delicious as before freezing!! I found the cream too sweet an I served it as finger deserts -very small bites on top of a dry prune and a half wallnut on top. My guests were drooling over it! Thank you for posting it!

  63. I’m so pleased to see this recipe that my country is so famous for! Can I just please correct the name? It’s MEDOVNIK. :) I absolutely loved this as a child and can’t wait to try it out now! It’s a calorific bomb though…

  64. ANGELA – Sorry missed your question. Yes, you can certainly freeze it. Yum all the way!:)

    LUCIE – Thank you. It is called MEDOVIK in Russian. I assume MEDOVNIK is Serbian? I may be wrong:) But it is the same cake:)

  65. Thank you so much for the recepie Farida! Can you tell me what is the size of the cup please?

  66. Made this today… I put the cooked layers on top of each other to cool and they stuck together… and the condensed milk didn’t cook to a caramel looking colour it was thick though. Made it into the cream and it was to runny… is this because I didn’t put it back in the fridge after mixing? and now I have a leaning tower of cake where the top layer that was broken in half is sliding off the top of the cake in different directions. I am so disappointed… The effort put in was so far not worth it! I’ve got it in the fridge hoping it will stop the slide and I will cover up the defects tomorrow with the crumbs! I want to be back in Prague!!!

  67. OMG… I finally took a risk and tried making this cake and it was ammmmmazing, It was actually easier than I had expected to make it. everyone loved it, it was gone within a few hours!!! Thank you so much for sharing your delicious recipes which are so easy to follow for those of us who are a bit less flexible in the kitchen : )….

  68. I once had cake at an Armenian home and the girl told me that in Armenia it was a birthday cake and was called “little kisses” in Armenian. It really looks like your cake but I don’t remember if it was made with honey or condensed milk. I just remember the shape and that it was crunchy and nutty.

  69. hi, this cake looks great! going to try it right now. may i ask, how long can it keep in the fridge?

  70. COLIN – The cake hardens when stored in the fridge but you can do so if you are to keep it for a long time. Store for up to 5 days. However, it is best to store it at room temperature if it is not too hot in the room.

  71. Very different cake .Looks like lot of work u had put in this cake farida.nice presentation

    MyKitchenOdyssey