Unlike last year’s very rushed birthday cake, I left myself plenty of time this year to make my cake. I took the entire week off work, mainly because we were coming back from Colorado, but also to ensure I would have some time to work on this year’s recipe: Russian Honey Cake, or Medoviy Torte.
When I was in Dushanbe, the Korean-Tajik ladies who ran the (tiny) cafeteria would serve this daily. We would also get it in Turkmenistan, but it was less common there. After I saw the recipe on Smitten Kitchen, I knew I wanted to try and recreate it.
As I said, I gave myself plenty of time to work through this one. I was prepared for an honest-to-goodness full day marathon of working in a hot kitchen. I even recruited Ikinji to help. I mean, the recipe includes a stovetop portion before you even roll out the layers and bake them. As it turns out, the actual flow of the recipe is not that difficult, and it goes pretty easily. Even though I had Ikinji help with trimming the layers into perfect rounds (by tracing around a plate) one person can easily do everything.
The main change I made (other than using whole wheat flour, which I do in everything (except angel food cake)), is to use greek yogurt instead of the sour cream. At least one of the comments on the recipe aludes to the fact that Russian (and post-Soviet territory) sour cream is much, much thicker than what we get. It really is much closer to greek yogurt (that is, yogurt that has had most of the whey drained out) than the sour cream you buy here. Also, rather than using sweetened condensed milk, I wanted more of a honey flavor, so I wanted to sub all honey for the condensed milk in the recipe. Well…I only had about half the honey I needed, but I went with it anyway. This made the icing not nearly as runny, and not nearly as sweet.
I would call it a success. I do want to try it again with the correct amount of honey. Even though it was ready for my birthday itself, due to outside circumstances, we didn’t get around to eating it until two days later. By that time it was almost too dry, since the layers had absorbed all the available moisture. Taste-wise it was great, but the texture was a little off. Still, since it isn’t as difficult to make as it would seem just by reading the recipe, I think it might be making a reappearance.