Ukrainian Honey Cake or Polish Honey Cake? [Medivnyk or Miodownik?]

A while back, I shared my family’s Polish plain honey cake recipe.  It’s a delicious yet simple honey cake that I serve each year for Christmas and New Year’s.  It seems to be atypical as far as honey cake recipes go because there are no spices added to it.  More recently, I’ve found that a little bit of orange zest provides a nice dimension to the flavor, so I’ve added that bit to the recipe since first posting it.  While doing some additional research on honey cakes–what I’ve always called in Polish, miodownik–I discovered that my family’s miodownik looks to be a close descendant of the Ukrainian medivnyk.  I should have known!  The family baker who passed down the honey cake tradition is both Ukrainian and Polish.

The typical Polish-style miodownik that I’ve found on the internet is a spiced honey layer cake filled with a “semolina cream” (whip butter into a Cream of Wheat®, milk, and sugar mixture) and topped with a chocolate glaze.  I’ve made a similar cake before, but have called it “Stefanka.”  It looks like it’s the same thing as the blog Finding Feasts describes so well.  Sheesh!  Well, I’m sticking to my family traditions and that’s that.  But, I will now call my favorite honey cake miodownik, and add on medivnyk to the name too.  That should do it.  I’m re-posting the recipe for this cake not just to tell you all about the results from my research, which I’m sure are incredibly intriguing, but also because my original post was designed to feed a lot of people.  Some would say that it went a little overboard in the quantity department.  This time around, I’m posting a scaled down version that makes a simple Bundt cake.  Hope you give it a try!

This version, as in the original version, does not contain spices (e.g., cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves), but feel free to add in spices.  I’ve come across medivnyk recipes that do include spices, but my family tradition is to save the spices for a different Polish honey-based cake, called piernik, which is the Polish version of gingerbread.  Traditions are sometimes so confusing . . . .

Perhaps because of its simplicity, miodownik/medivnyk is a great treat for kids and not just around Christmas or New Year’s.  It’s also not too shabby for adults to nibble on either!  Below is the printable recipe, and afterwards is a step-by-step illustrated guide to making this delightful cake!

Print Recipe
Ukrainian-Polish Honey Cake (Medivnyk/Miodownik)
HollyTrail © 2019
Servings
Ingredients
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa (optional) [use if using clover honey and a darker color cake is desired]
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (e.g., canola oil, but not olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup honey (liquid)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon orange zest (optional) [zest from about 1/2 an orange]
  • 1 cup milk
  • confectioner's sugar for dusting
Servings
Ingredients
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa (optional) [use if using clover honey and a darker color cake is desired]
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (e.g., canola oil, but not olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup honey (liquid)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon orange zest (optional) [zest from about 1/2 an orange]
  • 1 cup milk
  • confectioner's sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300°F/150°C. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa (if using). Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract until combined. Mix in honey until fully incorporated (about 30 seconds). Mix in orange zest (if using). On low speed, gradually add flour mixture alternating with milk. Mix until just smooth, but do not overmix. Pour batter into Bundt pan and bake in preheated oven for one hour or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set on wire rack to cool completely. Best served after keeping in refrigerator overnight. Dust with confectioner's sugar before serving. Store in refrigerator or at room temperature for up to a week. Freezes well, up to 6 months.
Recipe Notes

To make a honey-spice cake, do not use orange zest.  Instead, sift the following spices with flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda:  1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves.

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STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS

First thing is first:  preheat the oven.  It should be a slow oven, at 300°F/150°C.  Grease and flour a large Bundt pan, or spray with baking spray.  I like to prepare the flour mixture first, so sift together 3 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt and, if you’d like a slightly darker color cake, then also add 1 tablespoon cocoa.  [If you want to add some cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves (1/2 teaspoon each), now would be the time.  Sift the spices with the flour and other ingredients.]

I used my standing mixer to beat 3 eggs with 1/2  cup of sugar, 1 cup of canola oil, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract until well combined, about 30 seconds.

Then I mixed in 1 cup of honey until the mixture is smooth.

I mixed in the zest from 1/2 an orange (optional ingredient, but highly recommended).  With the mixer running on low speed, I gradually mixed in the flour mixture, alternating with 1 cup of milk.

Once the flour has been fully incorporated, I poured the batter into the prepared Bundt pan.
I baked the cake in a preheated oven for about one hour, but the time depends on your oven.  Bake until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
I let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. I then flipped the cake over onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
The cake is best when it is refrigerated overnight and served the next day.  Actually, it keeps well a week or so, either refrigerated or at room temperature.  If you store it in the freezer, it’s good up to 6 months.  Dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.  I suppose a glaze would make it look nicer, but why take away from the honey flavor?
It’s a simple cake the whole family will enjoy!

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