Moldovan Many-Layer Honey Cake

dsc_1292RECIPE #298, DAY #499

FIVE STARS

ORIGINAL RECIPE: “8-Layer Honey Cake Recipe,” or Medovik, from Natasha’s Kitchen online*

TIMING: Ultimately, 1 or 2 days, with about 2 hours hands-on

DIFFICULTY: Difficult

TOOLS: A heavy-bottomed pan, rolling pin, 9-inch round pan, baking sheet, parchment paper, cooling rack, beater (hand or stand), off-set spatula, etc.

COOK TYPE: Oven

HEALTH: Now, this is a cake, but if you are looking for a healthier sort of cake, this might be it. Low in sugar (and honey besides), it still has white flour, but also uses sour cream instead of much of its butter.

dsc_1274EXPERIENCE: You may already be getting the impression, “I do not want to make this cake” because, well, as I kept saying, take everything you know about cake-baking and throw it out the window. Then bake this cake.

I was getting ready for Supper Club this week (with the theme of Moldova) and did not have dessert planned except for wafer cookies and coffee. That would not do. I have been to Moldova, and the only dessert I remember was this mile-high, light and fluffy cake with tiny layers which I was forced to eat at 3 o’clock in the morning because Moldovans are unapologetically night owls. All of them. Moving on. So, I looked it up, and despite the lack of Moldovan recipes on the internet, this one–called Medovik–popped up in various places. I found what looked like the best recipe, printed it out, and balked while I threw everything I knew about cake-baking out the window.

First of all, this cake is not in the category of fast or easy, which is what I aim for on this blog. But everybody needs recipes for the over-the-top stuff, too, I just like to make that stuff more accessible. You’re not going to run into too many quick cake recipes, but you might need to make one a few times per year. Second, you are going to have to trust this recipe and follow through. From starting with a caramel to baking out the layers in separate, tiny sheets, Just do it. In the end you’ll end up with a very impressive, delicious, feathery cake that defies previous cake experience (both for you and your audience).

dsc_1273NOTES: There are too many. Where to even start?

I admit, I had a little bit of scrambled eggs at step 2, but not much. No one seemed to notice at the end, although I could find the bits if I looked.

You want to work as fast as possible with the warm dough, as it cooperates best when warmest. That’s asking a lot, though, as it takes almost forever to roll out all the layers. I figure I was rolling for about 1/2 hour, and my arms are still a little sore.

You can top your cake with whatever fruit is appetizing and in season. I used a sliced Pink Lady apple and red grapes. Berries would be wonderful, in season. Keep in mind that not every fruit needs to be glazed, but things like apples have to be cut at the last moment before glazing. Be gentle with raspberries.

Traditionally, the cake crumbs go on the top of the cake, but I thought it made sense (since I forgot until after, whoops) to use them to hide the uneven sides of this Frankenstein of a cake. You could go all traditional and place them on the top, before the fruit.

dsc_1294You want to use apple jelly, not jam or preserver or whatnot. Also, you could change the jelly to another flavor, as long as the color of it won’t affect the taste or appearance (purple apples?!?) of your fruit.

I served with honey to drizzle, but I don’t think a single person used it.

***

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed, medium sauce pan, melt 1/4 cup honey, 3/4 cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter over low-medium heat, whisking occasionally. Continue until sugar has dissolved, then remove from heat.
  3. Whisk vigorously with one hand while you slowly drizzle in 3 beaten eggs with your other. The idea is to end up with something that is not scrambled eggs. Whisk in 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  4. With a wooden spoon, add in 2 cups all purpose flour. Continue to add up to 1 cup additional all purpose flour, until the dough is stiff, like a cross between PlayDoh and modeling clay. Turn it out onto a clean, flat work surface and–with flour handy–knead until it does not stick to your hands anymore.
  5. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Set 7 aside and cover with a slightly damp towel. Roll the 1 piece out into a 9-10-inch circle. It will be very thin. Using a 9-inch round pan, press a circle impression into the dough and then cut off all the excess. Set scraps aside.
  6. As you finish 1 or 2 rounds, place on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper, and bake for about 5 minutes, until golden. Remove to a cooling rack, and by the time you are done with the next rolling-baking rotation, you can stack the rounds off to the side to use the cooling rack for the next 2 rounds.
  7. On the last pan of rounds, arrange the scraps around the pan so that they do not touch the rounds. You’ll want to set these bits aside when they come out, like in a baggie or small, sealable container.
  8. Continue until all 8 layers are baked.
  9. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together 2 cups sour cream with 2 cups powdered sugar and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
  10. With a hand or stand beater, whisk 1 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the sour cream mixture with a spatula.
  11. When cakes are completely cooled (this doesn’t take long considering their thinness), place 1 round on your cake stand/plate. Top with a heaping 1/4 cup of frosting and spread evenly. Continue this process until you have used all 8 rounds, and then use the rest of the frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake. Cover with plastic wrap/Press ‘N’ Seal (don’t be scared), and refrigerate for 1-2 days.
  12. Before your guests arrive, take those cake scraps and process until ground into crumbs with some texture. Set aside.
  13. Melt 1/4 cup apple jelly (not jam, not preserves). Toss in a small mixing bowl with whatever seasonal fruit you want to use to top your cake. Let cool.
  14. Take your cake out of the fridge, remove the plastic wrap, and with an off-set spatula fix the frosting to look nice. You’ll want to do all this sort of quickly. Arrange your fruit on the top in a pretty pattern, design, or heap. Take those scrap crumbs and apply them to the side of the cake to hide the unevenness of those rounds. Place back in the fridge until ready to serve.

***

Serve with coffee or tea and interesting facts about Moldova.

*Recipe changed from the original.

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