Friday, 5 June 2015

French Rustic Cake


It is summer but it sure doesn’t feel like one. You’d probably smirk and think ‘What do you expect? You live in Scotland!’. And while you are somewhat right (I do live in Scotland), I remember Mays and Junes when I did not have to go out with scarves and jumpers and winter boots. I remember sunbathing, barbeques, and clinging ice cubes in my drink. I remember wishing I could move further north so I could escape from the heat. Not this summer. So far it has been dedicated to my woollen blanket and Coldrex.

Still, the Internet is a sunny place. Especially when a certain cake has been circulating my Facebook feed for months. For me it’s a new phenomenon but it seems it has become a staple in the Bulgarian coffee and cake culture as every single (Bulgarian) food blogger has pronounced it The Cake of All Cakes. Everyone is very set on the name and the idea of honey layers, slightly sour cream filling, and flavour enhancing jam.

I was curious and decided to look it up. The Internet is silent on its origin and I couldn’t find any French dessert that remotely resembles this famous ‘French rustic cake’. It’s a mystery why it bears this name and how it’s come to be. I’d imagine that it’s a case of stuck cookbook pages between a French Mille-Feuille and a Russian Honey cake (Medovik) with a twist. Or maybe a chef got carried away thinking of Provence and its rows of violet and lilac lavender while prepping a Medovik.

Anyway, I gave it a go. French or not this piece of summer will definitely evoke thoughts of sun, holiday, and freedom. It tastes fresh and light and it’s perfect for an afternoon cup of tea. Or for the road if you suddenly decide to pack up and go. Like we did. It gave the perfect taste to our Highlands weekend trip.

 Don't be intimidated by the amount of effort. You'll get the hang of the layers by the 2nd one and the filling, jam, and crumbs are super easy. I am terrible when it comes to dough and was still able to roll out new balls of dough while baking the previous layers. And the result is magical. There isn't much ado for nothing. Truly the cake of all cakes. 

Ingredients for an 8’' cake.

Honey layers
260g* mix of rye and white self-rising flour + extra for dusting and rolling the dough
130g soft brown sugar**
1tsp baking soda
2 eggs
50g unsalted butter
65g honey
Pinch of salt
*It’s possible that you’ll need more flour depending on the size of the eggs, honeyness of honey etc. Use your better judgement when you adjust the amount of flour but be super careful you don’t turn your dough into a sticky rusk.
**The sweetness of this cake depends mainly on the sweetness of its layers, so feel free to increase/double the amount of sugar.

1. Mix the sugar, eggs, butter, honey, and salt over boiling water. Be careful that the water does not touch the bottom of your mixing bowl or you’ll get sweet scrambled eggs.
2. Add the soda and keep beating the mix until it becomes lighter. (If you’d like some visual help you can check out this Russian video).
3. Add flour and mix well. The dough will be extremely sticky but don’t be tricked to add tons of flour. It’s important to keep it light.
4. Divide the dough into equal parts – 5,6,7,8 – as many layers as you’d like. I got 8, used 5 in the cake, and froze the rest.
5. Roll the parts as thinly as possible on a non-stick parchment paper. Add flour to prevent from sticking on the rolling pin but don’t be tempted to add flour to the mixture itself.
6. Use the ring you’ll build your cake into to cut the dough to size. Pierce the surface with a fork so it doesn’t bubble up.
7. Bake for 2-3 mins at 200 C.
8. Repeat 5. 6. and 7. until you have a stack of baked pancakes. Let them cool.

Blueberry jam
250g blueberries
5 tbsp light brown sugar
3 tbsp water
1 vanilla bean
Optional: 1 - 2 sheets gelatine. Use depending on how thick you’d like your jam.

1. Bring blueberries, sugar, water, and vanilla seeds to a boil and leave on until the mixture begins to thicken.
2. Cool slightly and add gelatine (after it has been soaking in cold water for 5 mins, remember?)

Cream filling
300 ml crème fraiche
150 ml double cream
30g condensed milk

1. Beat together the crème fraiche and the cream. When it forms firm peaks put aside about 100 g for frosting.
2. Add condensed milk to the frosting part and beat together.

Leftover honey layer pieces
50g nuts
100g sugar
Splash of water
100g blueberries

1. Blend the leftovers from the honey layers to fine crumbs.
2. Slightly roast the nuts on a dry pan.
3. Prepare caramel with the sugar and water and then add the nuts coating them well in the caramel (for video instructions check here).
4. When the brittle has cooled blitz and blend it with the honey crumbs.

1. Place the first honey layer in your mould. Trim it to fit if necessary.
2. Add cream filling.
3. Add splotches of blueberry jam.
4. Repeat 1. and 2. but skip the jam.
5. Keep layering the cake alternating between jam and no jam layers until you are happy with its height or you can’t go any further because it will collapse.
6. Put in the fridge overnight.
7. Remove from mould and distribute frosting on top and sides of the cake.
8. While holding the cake, scoop and stick the honey brittle crumbs to the sides.*
9. Heap blueberries on top.  

*If you have any leftover crumbs put them in an airtight container and use them as a cheesecake base later. 

Once done, don't hold your breath for too long or the cake will disappear before your eyes. 


  1. M-m-m. Looks quite tasty. I envy all those who could try it... Had a drink with the cake as well?

    1. A sip of a good single malt Scotch :)

  2. This will be the next cake I make xx


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