Anastasia – the last of the Romanovs of Imperial Russia. On the night of July 16 (or 17, according to some reports), 1918, Bolsheviks, under orders of the Supreme Soviet Council of Russia, Yakov Yurovsky, led Anastasia, her family, and some of their servants to a basement in Yekaterinburg, Russia under the pretext that they were being protected from counter-revolutionaries. They were then met by a volley of gunfire from a group of executioners who cornered them downstairs.
However, rumors began to circulate stating that while the Romanov family was killed that night, one member may have survived – Anastasia. According to the 1997 animated film, Anastasia, she found her way out of Yekaterinburg and lived her life as an orphan somewhere in communist-controlled Russia. But was it true? Did a young girl survive that night and escape from the basement?
Let’s break it down!
Part I: Breaking Down History
- Gale In Context | High School: Anastasia Nicholaievna Romanov
- Gale In Context | High School: Grigori Efimovich Rasputin
- Gale In Context | High School: Anna Anderson
- Anastasia | Biography, Pretenders, & Facts | Britannica
- Grigori Rasputin | Biography, Facts, & Death | Britannica
- History.com | Woman claiming to be Anastasia Romanov arrives in the US
Part II: Recreating History – Medovik (8-Layered Honey Cake)
Now that we broke down the historical accuracy of Anastasia, why don’t we recreate some history! Medovik is a layer cake that was popular in the Russian Empire. Created in the 19th century, this cake is made with honey and smetana, a type of sour cream. This dessert would have been very prevalent in the Russian court as one of the many things that the imperial family would have eaten at the time. Since smetana is not something found easily in local markets, you can substitute regular sour cream.
Here is the recipe:
For the cake layers:
For the sour cream frosting:
For the topping:
For the cake:
- Add ¾ cup sugar, 4 tbsp honey, and 2 tbsp unsalted butter to a medium saucepan and melt them together over medium/low heat, whisking occasionally until sugar is melted (5-7 mins).
- As soon as the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and, while hot, add in eggs slowly while whisking vigorously until all of your eggs are incorporated.
- Whisk in the baking soda, then fold in your 3 cups of flour until the dough reaches a clay consistency (it should not stick).
- Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces.
- On a well-floured surface, roll each piece out into a thin 9″ circle (about 1/8″ thick). Place a 9″ plate or base from a springform mold over your rolled dough and trace around it with a pizza cutter to get a perfect circle. Keep the scraps for later.
- Transfer the dough to a large sheet of parchment paper and bake 2 at a time at 350˚F for 4-5 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before stacking. Repeat with remaining layers.
- Bake the scraps separated evenly on a sheet of parchment. Once the scraps are baked, cooled and firm, crush them with a rolling pin or pulse them in a food processor until you have fine crumbs.
For the frosting:
- Beat 1 cup heavy cream until fluffy and stiff peaks form.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together 32 oz. sour cream with 2 cups powdered sugar. Fold the whipped cream into the sour cream.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
Assembling the cake:
- Spread about 1/3 cup frosting on each cake layer. Press the cake layers down gently as you go to keep the layers from having air gaps.
- Frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting.
- Dust the top and sides with your breadcrumbs.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Enjoy with berries on the side!