Honey Cake: A Dessert With Multiple Layers And A Long History
Image Credit: Unsplash

Cakes have become an integral part of all kinds of celebration across the world. From anniversaries to Christmas, most occasions and festivals seem incomplete without cake cutting. Considering flavours, there are numerous options, be it from your favourite bakery or homemade cakes. And when we talk about the authentic flavours that have existed for years, such as vanilla, chocolate, cheese and pineapple are some names that still rule our palate. Honey cake is another such flavour that has multiple layers and a long history. 

Also known as Medovik, this sweet treat originated in Russian empire and it is a tradition in the Jewish families to eat honey cake on Rosh Hashanah (Jewish new year) as a symbol of hope for a sweet year to come. This classic dessert, made with as many as ten layers of cake and cream, all sweetened with honey, is very popular in Slavic countries. The authentic honey cake takes very little time to bake but the whole process requires a lot of patience.  

The original recipe of this popular Hungarian cake is taken from the  preserved family recipes of Steven Fenves, a ninety-one-year-old Holocaust survivor. When Fenves was thirteen years old, he separated from his family and was taken to Auschwitz. His home in Subotica (now known as Serbia) was looted by locals but Maris, the family cook, somehow managed to save the handwritten book of recipes. The honey cake recipe was written by Fenves’s grandmother who died in Auschwitz during the tragedy. Sixteen years later,  when Fenves returned to Subotica along with his sibling, Maris returned the cookbook to them. The cookbook had very vague instructions about the cake and its layers, which were later shared in a report by The Washington Post. 

The original honey cake has an intense flavour of ginger, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and the dough has a texture of gingerbread biscuit instead of cake. The original version of the cake was lost after the holocaust but the survivors and the family members have tried to keep it alive with some improvisation. 

If you also want to taste the flavour of this popular Hungarian dessert, here is the recipe: 


For the Filling and Frosting 

  • 4 cups milk  
  • 1 cup wheat cream  
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1½ cups unsalted butter 
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar 
  • ¼ tsp salt 
  • 1½ cups apricot

For the Torte 

  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • ¼ cup milk  
  • 3 tsp honey 
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 4¼ cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon 
  • 1½ tsp ginger 
  • ¾ tsp cloves 
  • ¾ tsp cardamom 
  • ¾ tsp coriander 
  • ¼ tsp salt 


For The Filling: 

  • Simmer milk in a pan then add wheat cream and whisk.  
  • Cook for three minutes and remove from heat, then add vanilla extract. 
  • Let cool slightly, then stir in the butter, sugar and salt. Then refrigerate for overnight. 
  • Keep the mixture at room temperature for twenty minutes and beat it until fluffy.  

For The Torte:  

  • Heat sugar, milk, honey and butter in a small saucepan until the ingredients melt then keep it aside for few minutes to cool. 
  • Then pour it into a mixer along with the eggs and let them combine properly. 
  • Then add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, coriander and salt mix until a smooth batter is formed. 
  • Then using a dough cutter, divide the dough into four equal balls and set on a plate and cover with a towel. Let rest at room temperature for one hour to allow the gluten to relax. 
  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly dust each ball of dough all over with flour then place it in the middle of a sheet of parchment paper.  
  • Then using a rolling pin, roll the dough into approximately a ten-inch circle and cut out a circle using a sharp knife and a baking pan. 
  • Repeat the same with the remaining dough balls.  
  • Bake two sheets at a time until the top of each round is slightly puffed and set, about ten minutes and let it cool.   

For Assembling The Cake:  

  • Place the first baked cake layer on top of the parchment and spread with one and half cups of filling.  
  • Top with a second cake layer and then spread the apricot over it, and repeat the same with the rest three layers. 
  •  Pat the reserved crumbs over the top and sides and let the cake rest for a few minutes.
  •   And finally sprinkle some more of the reserved crumbs all over the cake and enjoy.