Honey Cake / Serbian Medena Pita
24 slices (roughly)
Let me introduce you to this delicious Honey Cake / Serbian Medena Pita 🍯. A cake that is very much inspired by my childhood. This deliciously sweet cake is one of those desserts that always finds its way to the dessert table. Especially on most celebrations during the year. It is a specialty because it is not prepared all the time – making it an extra special treat. I hope this dessert finds its way to your dessert table for your next special occasion. It is a great treat even at a time when you just feel like dessert!
Origin of honey cake / Serbian Medena Pita
You would think that somehow this humble dessert is an interpretation of the grand Russian Medovik Cake, but there is not much information about the history of the Honey Cake / Serbian Medena Pita. All I know through stories and my upbringing is that this dessert stems from generations of women who traditionally baked this cake in their homes. Most women baked this cake to celebrate a Saints Day, for Christmas and even New Years celebrations. Its a very special celebratory cake. There may be slight variations of how people across the Balkans prepare this beautiful dessert. For me, this cake is a reminder of older and more simpler times. It is a dessert that makes its debut each time a special occasion arises.
The biscuit layers
At first sight these biscuit layers may seem intimidating, but do not fear it is as simple as combining the wet and dry ingredients, making a dough and rolling out the layers.
- Measure & prepare Ingredients – this is basic practice (I know) but helpful! For the biscuit layers, measure all the ingredients first, that way you avoid frantic moments.
- Melt ingredients in a pot – Most ingredients for the biscuit layers need to be heated & melted first. This includes the milk, unsalted butter, honey, sugar & baking soda. This makes the wet part of the dough.
- Caramelizing – Once the ingredients have melted, keep stirring. Do not worry when the colour starts changing, or if it is foamy, this is what you want. The mixture will turn into a caramelized colour.
- Let the wet ingredients cool – Very important! Let this cool for at least five minutes. You do not want to get scrambled eggs when they get added.
- Mix the flour with a spatula- I have tested this recipe with a stand mixer and it does not workout all that well. Use a spatula to add the flour to the wet ingredients, this gives you more control over the texture of the dough.
- Rolling the dough – A baking paper and glad wrap are a must! Having baking paper on the bottom and glad wrap on top of the dough prevents any sticking. A ruler will help measure the dough so that you end up with equal sized biscuit layers.
- Extra rolling tip – When rolling the dough, it helps to flip the dough layer and then roll again. Use your hands or the straight part of a dough scraper to shape the dough into a rectangular shape.
The creamy filling
There is nothing too complicated here, only a few tips that will help you create a fuss-free creamy filling.
- Measure & prepare Ingredients – Again, basic practice, but very helpful!
- Do not burn the milk – Bring to a slight boil and then stir in the semolina, sugar & milk mixture to create the filling. Stir constantly.
- Do not overcook the semolina – When you add the semolina mixture to the milk, you are looking for a creamy consistency, you do not want the semolina fully absorbing the milk. The cream still requires some liquid to remain. A good guideline is not to cook for longer than two minutes on low heat.
- Let the semolina cream cool – You do not want the cream to heat up the butter. Let this cool completely. Leave in the fridge for twenty minutes. The semolina will look stiff – this is normal.
- Beat the butter with a mixer – Using a stand mixer is very tempting, but with a hand mixer you have better control over the texture. Beat the butter until soft and fluffy, then add the powdered sugar, vanilla essence as well as the cooled semolina filling (about two tablespoons at a time).
- Troubleshooting – If – for some reason, you find the filling looks like liquid, this may be because the semolina mixture has overheated the butter. In this case, let the cream filling sit in the fridge for an hour to set. Otherwise the filling should be creamy and ready to use.
Refrigerate the cake overnight
This cake requires a period of time to set. Overnight is a good amount of time. This allows the layers to set nicely. The biscuit layers will also soften as the cream sits on top – making it soft to bite into. The following day it is best to take the cake out of the fridge, rest at room temperature for ten minutes before slicing. Feel free to trim any uneven edges and cut into even pieces ready for serving!
Looking for more?
If you are looking for more ideas, try one of the recipes below:
You will love the caramelized honey flavours and the light creamy filling of this Honey Cake / Serbian Medena Pita. This is such a special cake in our culture & across the Balkans, the women put such a labor of love into this cake for all family and friends to enjoy. My preference for eating this cake is to let it sit at room temperature for ten minutes, just enough for things to soften making each bite pure joy! If you try this Honey Cake / Serbian Medena Pita, feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts or how this cake turned out for you! You can also share a picture on Instagram.
|35 ml milk|
|25g unsalted butter|
|75 g honey|
|2tsp baking soda|
|2whole eggs (lightly beaten)|
|470g all purpose flour (sifted)|
|340 ml milk|
|190g unsalted butter|
|100g powdered sugar|
|1tsp vanilla essence|