My mom baked a honey cake for the New Year. It is my childhood favourite. She wanted to write “2018” on it, and I suggested making a paper stencil and shaving chocolate over it. When I was a child, she would decorate the cake with chocolate shavings all over the top. Now, my mom thought that stencil was a great idea, but she understood it so that the chocolate would be inside the digits. Instead, I thought that the image should be inverted – everything but the digits would be chocolate-covered. She went with my design, naturally – the more chocolate the better!

A note for the next time: the dough crumbs on the top are not necessary at all. Having a white cream background would make the writing more contrasty and would make the chocolate shavings stick better. As Winnie the Pooh told Piglet in the Russian version of the cartoon, “Both jam and honey, please, and you can skip the bread!”

My mom’s honey cakes are very close to the top of my sweetest childhood memories, but more recently, my notion what a fantastic honey cake looks and tastes like was re-calibrated when my wife and I travelled in Czech Republic in 2008. I had a conference in Prague, and after that, we travelled around most of the Southern part of the country by car over a two-week period. Two things impressed me in terms of cuisine: beer was cheaper than (bottled) water and honey cakes (called medovik) were served nearly in every cafe. The recipes were slightly different, but they were were all very-very good. Maybe, this is why that trip is one of my all-time favourites? After all, we all have incredibly strong emotional relationships with food one way or another.

Portrait of a young woman on a Charles Bridge in Pargue. Czech Republic

Portrait of a young woman on a Charles Bridge in Pargue. Czech Republic