Mézes Kremes Torta from the Bakehouse

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

Incredible caramelized honey cream cake

One of Budapest’s best-loved treats is rarely seen outside its cream-and-pastry-loving homeland! Happily, thanks to the passion, skill, and dedication of the Bakehouse pastry crew, you and I can partake in this delicious dessert without going all the way to Budapest!

(If you want to make the bold move and eat it in its natural Hungarian habitat, we would love to help you there too—Zingerman’s Food Tours will be heading that way in early May of 2025 and you and yours could be one of the small group of food and wine lovers that scores a seat. Let me know if you book a spot—I’ll buy you a couple slices to celebrate with!).

Mézes Kremes (may-zesh krem-esh), which means that it fits well with our ever-growing and ever-more popular range of traditional Hungarian pastries. It is a remarkably delicious and inspiringly iconic taste of Budapest!

First off, the cake itself is awesomely excellent. I’m not typically a big cake eater, but this one is seriously terrific. As in, I could eat a whole slice in about two minutes. Light and elegant with an exceptional caramelly honey frosting and filling. Tammie Gilfoyle, my long-time significant other, says it reminds her of dulce de leche—not as rich as straight caramel, and with a near-perfect ratio of cake to frosting. Our Mézes Kremes has four layers of tender, sweet honey sponge cake, lightly spiced with cinnamon and sandwiched between luscious layers of cream infused with “burnt” (i.e., caramelized) honey, dulce de leche, sour cream, and a hint of orange zest. In a sense, I feel like its blend of sweet and delicate bitterness from the burnt sugar is a pastry parallel to the similar dairy flavor palate of the De Graafstroom Extra Aged Gouda. 

Interestingly, in the way that all traditions move and weave and evolve over time, this cake came to Hungary during the painful 20th-century period of what can be seen as colonial Russian rule, from the end of WWII through October 23, 1989. In Russian, the name is Medovik (“honey” in Russian, is med, “bear” is medved). The cake was invented in Russia over two centuries ago by a chef for the Empress Elizabeth Alexievna, wife of Tsar Alexander I, who ruled from the time of the American Revolution until her husband’s death in 1825. (His death was followed by what came to be called the Decembrist Revolt, one of the early efforts to overturn autocracy and create a democracy in Russia. It failed. It did, though, yield you and I the band The Decemberists.) 

Mézes Kremes’ elegance makes it easy to imagine this being served—more likely in Russia with tea than coffee—in St. Petersburg back in the early 19th century. You can, absolutely, eat it anytime. It’s great paired with the Costa Rica coffee that’s the current Roaster’s Pick. I think it would be beautiful at breakfast too!