Medovik (Russian Honey Cake) Recipe

Medovik, or Russian honey cake. It’s like a graham cracker and a cheesecake had a baby – just the right amount of sweetness from the burnt honey and a subtle tang from the sour cream. There are a million different ways to make this cake, and not a single one of them is short or simple. But I like to think mine is pretty close. No need for a double broiler and slaving hours over the stove, but you still wind up with a delicious and wow-worthy treat.

It all started in early 19th century Russia with an ambitious confectioner in St. Petersburg and the future tsarina. Originally hailing from Baden, Elizabeth Alexeievna was whisked off to Russia to wed future Tsar Alexander I, and the sunshine yellow Winter Palace became her official residence. She had a real chip on her shoulder with anything to do with honey; the smell, taste and sight of it drove her mad. Until one day, eager to impress, a new chef whipped together a layered cake made from honey and mended with sourcream. Tsarina Elizabeth was a quick convert, and voila, medovik was born.

Two or so centuries, some tsars, dictators, revolutions, and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union later, medovik is still a huge hit. In fact, it not only survived the Soviet Union food shortages, but it thrived. Most of the ingredients required were regularly and widely available. Thanks to this, it’s still a popular dessert in former USSR states such as Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, Belarus, and my favorite – Georgia.

Ingredients For the Frosting:

  • 2 cups sour cream

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 cups powdered sugar

For the Cake Layers:

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/3 cup butter

  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour