Even as long ago as 15 years, when we were living in Paris, I noticed that food had become international. I could get almost any British foods I could want in the large supermarket where I did my main shopping. Equally I could find French jams, croissants, cheeses, in England. To some extent that's disappointing because it takes away one of the elements of travelling that I enjoyed.
As I was walking through the market in Canterbury I was delighted to see something very unusual - a stall selling Russian food. In all honesty, the only Russian food I could say I'd heard of would be borscht, beetroot soup. I think it's Russian.
I can now add two new delights to my list, the first being pirozhki (some debate about the spelling). This is a bread bun with a savoury filling. In my case it had minced beef inside. Very tasty!
Second there is medovik (or medovnik or medoviy or medianyk), although it was called Madonna cake on the stall. It's a melt in the mouth honey cake. Absolutely wonderful. The best thing I've tasted in a long time. Very rich, a little goes a long way. Sometimes.
As you can see, it's made of many layers of sponge or biscuit with a creamy filling between each layer. I liked it so much I decided to try to find a recipe but it was easier said than done. Here is an amalgam of recipes, and I'm making no claims at all, apart from the fact that just reading it brings back the memory of something very special.
Boil two unopened tins of sweetened condensed milk (or, if you prefer, considered milk as I found in one translation) in plenty of water for about 2 hours, making sure they are covered by water at all times. Remove from the water and ALLOW TO COOL to room temperature before opening. It will have caramelised.
Beat 300g (10 oz) butter in a mixing bowl until soft and fluffy. Gradually mix in most of the condensed milk but not too vigorously.
150g (3/4 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda )
3 tablespoons honey, warmed
110g stick margarine or butter
250g (2 cups) flour
Mix eggs, sugar, honey and butter in a bowl over boiling water. Stir constantly until smooth. Add baking soda, again stirring. Remove from heat and gradually add flour to form a dough.
Divide the dough into as many layers as you want for the cake, maybe eight. Roll them out into circles of about 1 to 2 mm thick and place on a buttered baking sheet. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 180 C (375 F) until golden brown.
Remove from oven and trim to shape. Keep the trimmings and make into fine crumbs.
When cool, spread cream filling on to the first layer of cake, cover with the next, and so on. Finish off with the crumbs made from the trimmings.
Leave over night. If you can.