The Secrets of Russian Honey Cake, Revealed
“With just two components, the cake seems simple, but those components unite to release a wave of malty, bittersweet and delightfully tangy notes with each bite.”
Flavor Profile: 20th Century Cafe's Michelle Polzine
“When did you first know you wanted to be a pastry chef?
'When I realized how deliciously glamorous it is. No kidding.'”
20th Century Café’s Russian Honey Cake, in Animated GIFs!
“After I tasted the Russian honey cake at this little café in San Francisco last year, I tweeted 'This is the best cake I have ever eaten.'”
Pastry of the Week
“Anyone who has had the misfortune of eating a typical, greasy block of a knish will wonder if one of Polzine's delicate, plump "knots" can be placed in the same category. Its poppy-seed-sprinkled golden wrapping reminds one of phyllo, if phyllo were buttery and less brittle. This knish, it's like a thin-skinned dumpling you might find on a dim sum cart, at a Jewish delicatessen.
Just think how many minds Polzine could change--about knishes, and, possibly, politics--if she could deliver these door-to-door, canvasser style..”
Best Bakeries in San Francisco
“Inspired by cafes in Vienna, Budapest, and Prague, this charming spot by pastry chef Michelle Polzine in Hayes Valley specializes in Eastern European delicacies such as linzertorte, babka, and the best-selling Russian honey cake. Comprised of a whopping 10-12 layers of cake and frosting, it’s as easy on the eyes as it is on the palate.”
A Knish Like Your Hungarian Grandma Would've Made
"'People have told me that some of my cakes remind them of their Romanian mom or Hungarian grandmother,' says Michelle Polzine, a former Range pastry chef who opened 20th Century Café in Hayes Valley this summer ."
Hot treats at 20th Century Cafe: Krasinski torte, coffee cake
“While other pastry chefs fussed to re-create the cronut, Polzine concentrated her efforts on lesser-known cakes, like mohnkuchen, a poppy seed cake layered with jam, and Viennese coffee cake, a yeasted dough spiraled around a filling of orange marmalade, chocolate and hazelnuts."
20th Century Cafe: Old Vienna Comes to San Francisco
“It occurred to her that these European-style cafes were the perfect restaurant for pastry chefs—a place where people could enjoy cakes and desserts but also have a meal or light fare. And she knew it wasn’t just about the food and the pastries; the aesthetics and feel of the place would be equally important.”
The Potato Knish is Legit!
“Michelle Polzine, formerly at Range, felt the one thing Hayes Valley lacked was a prewar Central European coffeehouse. Her slightly dowdy corner cafe isn’t nearly as imposing as the ones you’d have found in Vienna in Freud’s time, but the potato knish is legit: flaky with poppy seeds on top.”