As days get colder and darker, we are stepping into the winter season, illuminated by Christmas lights and festive decorations. The town is bustling with Christmas shoppers and air is filled with a vibrant fusion of aromas from market stalls, reminding you of all the food that winter festivities bring.
A dish that always comes to my mind when I think of winter is the Medovik cake that I grew up with, served on a New Year’s table as a sweet treat to wrap up the year’s gifts and remind me of one of the places I call home. Medovik (or honey cake) is a dessert that is very popular in Russia, Eastern Europe and other Ex-Soviet nations. It is a gentle, creamy and delicious cake that is made from many layers of honey biscuit (usually 8-10) that are held together with a sour cream base and is completed with a textural crumbed coat. I love it because everyone has their own way of making the cake, none look or taste exactly the same, but all are equally delicious and bring me the feeling of home wherever it may be.
Medovik (or honey cake) is a dessert that is very popular in Russia, Eastern Europe and other Ex-Soviet nations
It is said to have originated as a chef’s error when making a dessert for the Empress of Russia, Elizaveta Alexeyevna, the wife of Alexander I, who unknowingly used honey despite the Empress’ dislike for the ingredient. However, this 19th century origin is contested as it would have been very improbable that a chef would have been able to make an error like that. Although there is no clear, logical origin for the cake, it gained its popularity during the Soviet Era as a homemade cake for celebrations such as Christmas and New Year.
Like many other festive foods, the Medovik cake is traditionally made at home by a maternal figure, however, for those far from home, in small kitchens or new to this dish, it may be challenging to get your hands on a homemade cake. Luckily, you can try this cake here in Exeter as well, it is sold at the Food Plus shop on Sidwell Street, that is known for its variety of Polish and other Eastern European products. It is packaged in a slim and square shaped box from the brand Marlenka and comes in two flavours: original and chocolate. I usually opt for the chocolate one is it’s available. I would recommend Medovik to anyone that enjoys trying new food and exploring new traditions.