This recipe is a special one. As far as I know, it has only been taught to me. This recipe, though inexpensive, takes some time and so it is not a recipe for everyday but rather something for special occasions and special people.
It was invented in Estonia during the Soviet Union by two sisters. The story goes that their aunt made a Mille-feuille (Napoleon) but she would not share the recipe. The sisters tried to emulate the recipe as best they could, with the ingredients that were available to them, but in their search they discovered this recipe, which they liked better than their aunt's Mille-feuille. One of the sisters, now a great-grandmother, wanted to teach her granddaughters the recipe but they were not interested and instead I was taught the recipe.
That was several years ago and since then I've been making this cake for the delight of various people around the world; one in Australia remarked "it tastes like love".
Step 1: Ingredients/Tools
- ½-1c sugar
- 2 sticks of butter (unsalted, 175g sticks)
- 3 eggs
-3 tbsp honey
- 1 ½ tsp baking soda
- 4c AP flour
- 1c milk
- Little bit of water (to adjust the consistency of porridge)
- 10tbsp of semolina
- Fruit / coconut / misc. for toppings
- A measuring cup and spoons
- A whisk
- A rolling pin
- Several pots
- A mixing bowl
- A stainless steel bowl to use as a double boiler
- An oven
Step 2: The Cream
- Combine 1c milk, a little bit of water and 10tbsp of semolina to make porridge. The porridge should have a fairly gelatinous consistency.
- Combine 1 ½ sticks of butter to porridge.
- Sprinkle the porridge with sugar, the sugar should create a crust on the surface of the cream once cool.
- Cover the pot with a towel to absorb steam while the cream is cooling.
While the cream is cooling, move on to make the layers of the honey cake.
Step 3: Layers (1)
Now is the time when you'll need to break out the double boiler/bain-marie*.
- Heat water for double boiler over medium heat to make custard.
- Custard: Combine 1c sugar, 3 eggs, 3tbsp honey and ½ of a stick of butter (cut into slices to blend easier).
- Whisk for 15 minutes and turn off the heat but leave it as it is for now.
If you don't know what a double boiler/bain-marie is you can check out its Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bain-marie
Step 4: Layers (2)
- Combine 1 ½ baking soda with 3c AP flour and add to custard by sprinkling, mixing and repeating.
- Preheat oven to 200c/392f
You should have a fairly soft, slightly stretchy dough.
Step 5: Layers (3)
- Spoon some batter onto a well floured surface, roll 2-3mm thick. Add flour as necessary.
- Lay the rolled dough on a baking sheet and place in oven until slightly darker than golden. Repeat until no batter remains.
*You can cut the layers into discs while they are doughy or you can wait until after they are cooked. I was taught to cut them after, but so long as you save a bit of dough in the end, it is alright to cut them before cooking. I will show you how each option looks in the later steps.
- If you have been trimming the edges of your layers before you bake: When you only a have a layer or two worth of dough, roll it out to make a sheet same as you've been doing but cut it into shapes to decorate the exterior of the cake. I made a series of rectangles which I attached to the sides.
- If you haven't been trimming the edges of each layer before baking: After removing each layer from the oven, cut into circles using a template (spring form, pie plate, et cetera) and save the scraps.
** Be very careful when baking, the layers are very thin and so bake very quickly. In just a few minutes they can go from golden to charcoal.
Step 6: Cream (2)
Ok, by now you should have a stack of wafer thin cookies/pancakes and your cream should be cooled.
- Add the remaining sugar to the cream mixture, between 1/2 and 1c depending on how sweet you like your deserts.
- Place your first layer, back side down onto a plate, serving platter, whatever.
- Spread the cream liberally over each layer and stack the layers so that they mirror each other (face to face, back to back). The cream should should be more important than the layers, and some of the cream will absorb into the layers.
- When you've stacked all of your layers, spread the remaining cream over the top of the cake and the sides.
- If you trimmed your layers before baking:use the cream to glue your shapes to the side of your cake or the top.
If you trimmed your layers after baking: crumble the scraps into as fine or coarse crumbs as you want and cover you cake with them.
Step 7: Finishing
- Refrigerate your honey cake for one day before decorating and serving.
- Decorate your cake how you like to make it looks nice. I was taught to do it with strawberries, kiwi, and other fresh fruit or berries in the summer and with dried fruit and nuts in the winter but do it as you like.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact me and I'd be happy to respond to the best of my abilities.