Here is another Lithuanian festive dish, the Honey Cake.
This cake is very popular in Lithuania, they make it on very special occasions such as Christmas.
Medaus Tortas is a 24 layer honey cake, 12 layers of honey biscuit dipped in black Earl Grey tea and 12 layers of lemony crème fraiche.
This is the Lithuanian version of the Russian Medovnik (Honey Cake), which exists in many countries of the former USSR realm under various names. According to Russian tradition, the cake was created in the 18th century by a young chef who sought to impress Empress Elizabeth. My grandmother used to bake something similar, she calked it Turta Dulce, we don’t know if it was if Russian influence.
I used the recipe from Beata Nicholson’s book Taste Lithuania, which has become my most used recipe book…that is how much I love Lithuanian cuisine. Plus the book is a cultural gem in itself.
Ingredients for the biscuit layers:
- 220 g butter
- 250 g honey
- 100 g brown sugar
- 100 g white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp sour cream (crème fraîche)
- 800 g white flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup strong black tea
For the cream:
- 1-2 lemons
- 1 kg sour cream (at least 30%, you can use double crème Gruyeres)
- 150 g sugar
Melt the butter and the honey over bain marie. Turn off the heat and add the sugar, let cool. Separately, whisk the eggs and the sour cream and add this mixture to the cooled butter mixture. Sift the flour together with the cinnamon an the baking powder into the liquid mixture. Knead the dough, cut it in half and wrap it in plastic film. Refrigerate for an hour, or even overnight. But in the later case take it out 30 minutes before using it. I rolled 12 thin layers out of the dough, although the book recommends 10. Bake each sheet for about 8-10 min at 180 C. Let them cool completely before assembling the cake.
Scrape the zest of 1 large lemon or 2 small, after you have washed them. Whisk the sour cream and sugar, add lemon zest and the juice of one lemon. Put the cake together, layer by layer. Make sure to moisten each sheet with the cooled tea before spreading the cream (2-3 tablespoons for each sheet).
Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.