Medovik, also known as Czech Honey Cake, is a popular (and delicious) sweet treat. There are 15 layers of goodness on this dessert…take a bite today!
So the other day, I was sitting in Robbie’s room reading him a bedtime story. The story of the night involved Winnie the Pooh hunting for his lost honey pot. (Don’t worry…Pooh found the honey pot. It was sitting under the bee hive right were he left it!) But that story then led Robbie to ask if he could have some honey. So the next morning, I gave Robbie a spoonful of honey. I told him it was some of Pooh Bear’s honey, and he loved it. Then I decided to take the whole thing one step further. I decided to bake this Czech Honey Cake called Medovik.
I first came across Medovik last year when Laura and I were in Prague. I was immediately drawn to the fact that this cake has about 62 layers of goodness! Ok, maybe 62 is an exaggeration, but it does have 8 (!!) layers of cake with a cream filling in between each layer. Medovik is a popular dessert throughout eastern Europe, and it appears in many different forms. (Indeed, my friend Ben @ Havoc in the Kitchen is originally from Russia, and he’s posted a couple versions of this cake before. His lavender version is a fun spin on this classic sweet treat.)
I consider myself a fairly experienced baker, but this cake introduced me to a couple of new ideas that I had never tried before. First, the layers of cake are incredibly thin. The cake batter is actually more like a dough in that it can be rolled out. (Yes, a cake where the layers get rolled out. Crazy, huh?) And the thin layers only get baked for a short time. After ~5 minutes, they’ll be golden brown and ready to come out of the oven. You’ll repeat that step several times since it’s not possible to get all of the layers in the oven at the same time.
The second new concept? The cream filling is largely comprised of sour cream. Now I’ve used sour cream quite a bit as an ingredient in cake batter…but I can’t recall a time when I’ve used sour cream in a filling. And certainly not when sour cream is ~75% of the filling! To be honest, I was a little skeptical. But one bite, and I immediately went right back to that bakery in Prague! This Medovik is a delicious and unique dessert for sure!
Medovik (Czech Honey Cake)
Fair warning: Medovik is well known for it’s lengthy preparation time. For starters, there are a lot of layers that need to get baked. And then once you assemble the cake, you actually wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight. So you’ll need to plan ahead when making this cake. However, planning ahead is kinda nice because it means the cake requires little to no work on the day you want to serve it. Just pull it out and slice it up!
The cream filling in Medovik is traditionally sweetened condensed milk and sour cream. I took this one step further here and cooked that sweetened condensed milk into dulce de leche. (It’s a super easy process, and I recommend this guide from Serious Eats.)
According to legend, this cake was originally made by a young chef trying to impress a Russian Empress. She didn’t like honey, but he didn’t know this. He constructed this honey cake, and it turns out she loved it. Whether or not that story is true is subject for debate. However, the point remains that this cake doesn’t have an overly honey taste. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. And it has a bit of a tang thanks to the sour cream filling. In fact, Laura compared it a cheesecake, and I think that’s a pretty good comparison.
Medovik is most definitely a European style dessert in that it’s not as sweet as many American desserts. (I love American desserts, but I admit that many of them are known for being cloyingly sweet – think about grocery store birthday cakes.) However, it’s still delicious, and I highly recommend making this sometime. Just don’t be like Pooh Bear and forget where you left your honey pot! Happy baking, my friends!
Did you bake this Medovik at home? Leave a comment, or better yet snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog). I’d love to see your version!
For the Cake Layers
- ½ cup honey
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4½ cups all-purpose flour
For the Filling
- 1¼ cups dulce de leche see note
- 24 oz. sour cream
- 1 cup walnuts lightly toasted and chopped
For the Cake Layers
- Place a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add honey, sugar and butter; stir occasionally until mixture is well combined and smooth (~5-6 minutes). Remove honey mixture from heat and let cool for 3-4 minutes.
- Using a small bowl, beat eggs until well combined. Once honey mixture has cooled slightly, very slowly pour beaten eggs in, whisking constantly the entire time. (Note: If you add the eggs too quickly, they could scramble due to the heat of the honey mixture.)
- Once eggs have been completely stirred in, add vanilla extract, baking soda and salt; stir until well combined.
- Gradually add flour ½ cup at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition. (Note: The finished dough will be rather stiff. This can be mixed by hand, but an electric mixer on low speed will make the job a lot easier.)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.
- Working on a well-floured surface, roll each piece into a 9” circle. After rolling each piece out, place a 9” bowl or cake pan on top of the dough. Use a pizza cutter to cut any scraps off the edges. Save the scraps for later.
- Transfer circles to a parchment-lined sheet pan. (I was able to get 2 circles to each pan.) Using a fork, dock each piece of dough 8-10 times.
- Bake for 4-6 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove baked circles from oven and repeat process with remaining pieces.
- Finally, bake the scraps for 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Let scraps cool and then pulse in a food processor until finely ground. Cover and set crumbs aside.
For the Filling
- Using a large bowl, add the dulce de leche and sour cream; beat using an electric mixer until smooth.
- To assemble cake, place first layer on a large cake plate. Add ~½ cup of filling on top and use an offset spatula to spread filling to edges. (Note: Leave ~¼” edge around outside of each layer.)
- Add another layer of cake and more filling. Continue process until all layers of cake have been used. Spread a thin layer of filling on top. Combine the reserved cake crumbs and chopped, toasted walnuts. Gently press mixture into top of cake.
- Cover cake lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, use a large offset spatula to clean up the edges of the cake where some of the filling might’ve escaped overnight.
- Slice and serve. (Note: This cake must be refrigerated overnight to let cake layers soften. However, the cake can be made 2-3 days in advance and refrigerated until needed.)
Looking for other European dessert recipes? Check out these other favorites: