Russian honey cake
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
200g unsalted butter, diced
6 large eggs
2½ teaspoons baking soda
2½ teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
450g plain flour
1 x 395g can condensed milk, turned into dulce de leche*
1kg heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan-forced). Place half the honey in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until honey is burnt – don’t be afraid, the more burnt, the better. Take off the heat and, holding over a sink, add the water (take care, it will spit, so please be careful). Set aside.
Place one-quarter of the burnt honey in a medium saucepan over a low heat. Add the remaining uncooked honey, the sugar and butter and heat until melted. Whisk to combine and set aside to cool to room temperature. Crack eggs into a small bowl and whisk gently to break them up. Set aside.
Combine the baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the baking soda mixture.
When the butter mixture is room temperature, add the eggs and whisk together. Then, in three batches, add the sifted flour mixture and combine well. Your cake batter is now ready. Set aside in a cool spot for 1 hour.
Line 8-10 baking trays with baking paper. Using an offset spatula, thinly spread 1/3 cup of the batter over one of the trays, making sure it is even. Repeat until you have eight to 10 trays of cake batter. Bake as many layers as you can at the same time in the oven (three is a good number in a home oven) for about 5-7 minutes each. Check after 5 minutes to make sure the mix is not dry or overcooked. Once each layer is baked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool at room temperature.
Choose a stainless-steel bowl that fits within the size of your baked cake sheets. Place, turned down, over 1 of the cake sheets and cut out a nice circle. Repeat on each layer to create 8-10 circles. You now have your cake layers. Keep the scraps of cake and turn them into crumbs. Set the cake layers and crumb aside.
Place the remaining burnt honey and the dulce de leche in a medium bowl. Hand-whisk until combined, then slowly pour in 200g of the cream and mix until combined. Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes or until completely chilled. Place the remaining 800g cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip until it forms medium peaks. Add the dulce de leche-cream mixture and whip just until stiff peaks form (take care not to over-whip).
To assemble the cake, place 1 of the cake layers on a serving plate then spoon a heap of the cream mixture on top, using an offset spatula to spread the filling evenly. Repeat until you use all your cake layers. Finish with a layer of cream and sprinkle with some of the reserved cake crumbs. I like to leave the side of the cake nude so you can see all the layers.
Chill for at least 3 hours before slicing to serve.
*To make dulce de leche, preheat the oven to 220°C (fan-forced) and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Pour the condensed milk into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate and cover tightly with foil. Set the plate in a roasting pan and add enough hot water to the pan to reach halfway up the pie plate. Bake milk in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes. Check water level and add extra, if necessary, then continue to bake for a further 45 minutes, or until milk is thick and brown. Remove pie plate from water bath and set aside to cool, uncovered. Makes about 1¼ cups.